Why everyone fell in love with this absolute First Dates hero

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Amy Swales
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First Dates gifts its viewers many things: awkward chat, uncomfortable displays of misplaced arrogance, and sometimes, just sometimes, happy endings.

But this time, it delivered a solid gold hero – and fans couldn’t get enough.

While potential couples often leave viewers seriously divided, the last episode (23 October) united everyone in admiration for firefighter Nikki, who was matched up with former rugby player Ross.

first dates nikki ross still together firefighter grenfell
The hopeful couple, Ross and Nikki

Initially, much was made of her height. At 6ft 3 “in heels”, Nikki told the camera she was after someone taller than her. Enter 6ft 4 Ross, and the usual nervy date stuff got underway; he got a little sweaty, made a joke about her putting him out, and they continued to chat once at their table about online dating and the like.

Then he asked about her career and after she explained a lot of men were dismissive, assuming she couldn’t carry them out of a burning building as well as a man could, he asked if she had any tales to tell.

Nikki revealed she’d been called on to help tackle June’s devastating Grenfell Tower blaze in London, and described the feeling of looking up at the 24-storey building and knowing she’d not only have to go in, but climb as high as she could.

Describing battling through the heat and smoke, she expressed regret that she and her colleagues had no chance of saving everybody, but revealed that she’d carried more than one person to safety.

Nikki went on to say that she used that knowledge to help her through the difficult emotions following the incredibly distressing night: “If I’ve done something that's saved somebody’s life then I can call upon that to help me through a bit”.

(If you recognise Nikki, it may be because she was one of the firefighters to meet Adele at Chelsea fire station in the days after the fire.)

Many on social media hailed Nikki a “hero”, an “inspiration” and a “role model”.

We couldn’t agree more.

It seemed Ross was equally blown away by her heroics (as well as her personality and her ability to win a rib-eating contest, of course), and the pair secured a second date – sending a heart-warming vibe across the internet.

And what of those three pictures at the end that can so often ruin all our hopes and dreams for a couple that appeared to get on with a super casual, “Despite their date, X found someone else…”?

This time, it was a true match: Nikki and Ross had many more dates, and are still together. Ross called her his “superhero”.

Everyone applauded.

It’s OK to cry at TV programmes, you know.

Images: Channel 4


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.