First Dates Hotel – the sun-drenched spin-off of Channel 4’s First Dates – has proven to be incredibly popular. After all, who doesn’t love to watch people find love, or gain comfort in the knowledge that others, too, struggle to fill awkward silences during those pressure-filled first meetings?
But while the contestants’ stories of what brought them to the show can often be touching, some viewers were left “heartbroken” by the most recent episode (16 Jan), when one woman discussed the moment she witnessed her husband’s murder.
Julie, 58, was paired up with father-of-two Dave for her date in the south of France, and it wasn’t long before he began asking about previous relationships. She took a deep breath before revealing that her first husband had been shot dead in front of her while they were travelling the world together.
Recalling that she and her husband had been backpacking in the Philippines, the mother-of-three said: “Unfortunately we were accosted and held up at gunpoint.
“And for whatever reason, I don’t know why, they decided to shoot him.”
Although she watched the horrific event unfold before her eyes, Julie said there is just a “black space” if she tries to remember.
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She said: “I know I witnessed everything obviously, but it’s not a memory it’s just a black space. So the next thing I know is someone helping me and he’s gone.”
She added: “I loved him and he loved me.”
Julie went on to marry for a second time, but the marriage failed – a fact she said did not surprise her, as she knew at the time she “wasn’t in a good frame of mind” due to her grief for her first love.
“I pushed myself and told myself that I had to be happy, because I knew that’s what he’d want for me,” she said.
Despite this, however, Julie explained on the show that she feels ready to meet someone new: “As much as I loved my first husband, I would never think. ‘that's it, I’ll never have that again’. I do want to meet somebody.”
Viewers at home were heartbroken by Julie’s story, with many taking to Twitter to share their feelings and to commend her for her bravery.
“First Dates Hotel is breaking my heart,” wrote one. “Please be happy again, Julie.”
Another added: “First Dates [has been] making it another emotional evening; I’m in tears again [at this] heartbreaking story.
“Your happiness will come again.”
“What an incredibly brave woman,” commented another. “I hope she finds love again.”
Following their date, Julie decided that Dave – despite being lovely – was not the man for her.
“I think you're lovely, I've had a fantastic time. Unfortunately, it was a friend spark, more than a romantic spark,” she told him. “I'm looking for the perfect scenario, the romance and everything that goes around it. It might sound terrible and awful, but I need to have the whole thing.”
The pair did say that they are going to keep in touch and remain friends.
First Dates Hotel continues next Monday (January 23) at 10pm on Channel 4.
Images: Channel 4