First Dates is, without a shadow of a doubt, the cream of the crop when it comes to reality television; there’s just something so strangely compelling about watching nervous singletons sit down to enjoy dinner together.
From dating mishaps, to empowering women, to unexpected romances (anyone else rooting for CiCi and Sam after that Love Actually moment?), the show is packed full of feel-good moments.
However, behind the scenes, maître d' Fred Siriex admits that he constantly worries that he’s letting the show’s applicants down.
Speaking to Digital Spy, he said: “They put their faith in us and I think it's a huge responsibility, because we need to deliver.
“People really want to be on the programme because they think we're going to make magic here for them, and that's why they apply.
“The difficulty for us is we have so many people applying - it's just sometimes heartbreaking not to choose one over another one, and that's the dilemma. We've had about 100,000 applicants - it's really, really crazy.”
However it’s not all doom and gloom for Siriex, who recently launched spin-off show First Dates Hotel.
“I'm very grateful and lucky to watch it all unfold before my eyes," he said. “I've not been invited to any weddings, but we’re going to have a baby soon and apparently they want to give it the middle name Fred, which I'm very honoured by!”
First Dates Hotel, which saw its first ever episode air on 2 January 2017, has already been met with praise from fans.
As you may have guessed from the title, the new Channel 4 show aims to match up singletons on blind dates at a beautiful boutique hotel.
Nestled in the French countryside, the location has been dubbed an “oasis of romance” – and it is hoped that the new format will lead to more successful unions than the original two-hour dinner date of the original show.
However some cynics have taken to social media to voice their concerns that the hotel-based dating show will encourage too many one night stands. Because, yes, apparently consensual sex between adults isn’t acceptable in 2017.
“Nice hotel and great for one night stands and then not see each other again,” wrote one.
Another added: “Guess #FirstDates producers got tired waiting for daters to shag at the table and decided to force 48 hours abroad on them.”
However Siriex insists that this is absolutely not the case; the show’s intentions remain as pure as ever.
Speaking to The Sun, he explained that “yes, there are bedrooms” – but added that this is not the true premise of the show.
“Our vision is to put people up and help them find love. That’s all we want to do!”
Siriex added: “It was more about giving them the chance to get to know each other over a longer period of time.
“So they meet on the terrace, they have a meal, then they can have breakfast the next day and have more opportunities to meet and get to know each other.”
Siriex did admit that the show’s gorgeous sun-soaked location is very likely to spark envy and feelings of wanderlust amongst viewers, however.
“I think you will like it, and it will be a great time to watch it in January when it's all cold and we have no money,” he joked to Digital Spy.
“We will just have a bottle of wine and think about the next summer holiday and where we're going to go!”
Meanwhile Adam Chapman, the show’s series editor, said: “Having worked across multiple series of First Dates, we’re really excited to develop the format and take it into a new space.
“The hotel, whilst retaining all of the charm of the restaurant series, will give viewers the chance to see first dates develop into second dates, answering that eternal question of ‘what happens next?’.”
He added: “Maître d’ Fred will be on hand, as always, to deliver a bespoke first date like no other.
“The First Dates Hotel will be the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life; an oasis of romance where daters can focus on one thing and one thing only – finding love.”
The next episode of First Dates Hotel will air on 9 January at 10pm on Channel 4.
Images: Channel 4