Over the last few years I’ve been crying out for some originality when it comes to dating shows. When I was growing up ‘Blind Date’ was the dating show, which unfortunately makes me ever so slightly older than I care to admit. These days the pinnacle of television dating is probably ITV’s Take Me Out, my thoughts on that? Too much of a game show feel and to be quite honest it’s had its day. So, much to my delight I was invited down to Birmingham to spend a day on the set of Channel 5’s exciting new show, Strip Date. Now this particular episode was screened last night and so finally I can reveal all!
What instantly grabbed my attention with Strip Date was really simple – it was fun! Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it. For those who haven’t yet tuned in, two people describe their perfect crush and each undergo a makeover to look like the other’s dream date. For this particular episode I met Rihanna fan Isaac from Cardiff and Sinatra loving Emma from Kent – no contrast there then!
First up was Emma. When I first met Emma all I could see was her make-up free face surrounded by a chunky white dressing gown and a similar thing on her head which as a guy I have no idea what to call. Emma was understandably a tad nervous, but still very bubbly and excited for what the day had in store. Her enthusiasm did however wane when her outfit was revealed piece by piece and who could blame her! Nothing against Rihanna, but ‘stripper on a night out’ springs to mind with this particular outfit. As she was surrounded by a crack team of make-up artists and stylists, I grabbed a few words with Emma to get her thoughts on dating and how she felt about the evening ahead:
Emma! so what made you come on the show? “I split up with my boyfriend and I just felt like I needed to do something really different and I came across the show and thought I’d go for it.
What are your expectations from tonight’s date? I don’t have any major expectations, I think the date will be a fun experience but I’m open minded to finding another relationship.
The dating industry is very online based at the moment, what are your thoughts on dating apps? I am on Tinder but I just use it as a way of curing my boredom, it’s just easy but I don’t take it too seriously and I’ve never been on any dates from it.
Ok so a little scenario for you, you’re going on a blind date tonight and you’re not remotely attracted to them, what do you do? Tell them you’ve got to go to the toilet, ring your mate to pick you up and leg it haha.
Up until this point your day has very much been focused on how you’re going to look, how are you feeling about now seeing Isaac’s transformation? Too be honest I’ve not even had a second to think about him after being so distraught by what I’m wearing, so I couldn’t care less about him right now haha.
How do you think he’ll be feeling about the outfit you’ve chosen for him? I think he’ll be thinking I’m seriously old fashioned.
Do you think there’s a chance he’ll adopt his new look? I think he’s going to look great actually but when we go out there’s going to be a bit of a pretty woman feeling to it, he’s going to look really suave and I’m going to look like Julia Roberts.
Two hours later and Emma was fully transformed. Her unease was clear for all to see but still she embraced her new look and seemed to be enjoying the experience, even if her vintage granny chic style had been demoted to a thing of the past.
With Emma raring to go, albeit a little apprehensive, I moved on to Isaac and his impending transformation.
Isaac was an interesting character to say the least. In fact Isaac was a perfect example of never judge a book by its cover. A rapper from Cardiff with a little bit of ‘gangsta’ in him, he did in his own words look like someone who might steal your purse, but in truth you couldn’t meet a nicer, more chilled out individual.
At this point it really hit home how sincere and genuine this show was. The entire building had met both Emma and Isaac, except Emma and Isaac. There was no fakery with this show (apart from the wigs), no Tattoo Fixers style setups, every single person was totally dedicated to ensuring Emma and Isaac had the best possible experience and that included not clapping eyes on one another until that one pivotal moment. So what you see on screen, is exactly what you get.
Back to Isaac, no more Goldie Lookin Chain, Emma was after a Frank Sinatra/Lord Disick look for her man and poor Isaac in for something of a shock to the system. The style was suave, the hat was was on fire, the cane was so money and the wig was horrific – but still all part of the fun of course!
As I sat down with the man himself, I posed a few questions about dating and of course his upcoming date:
So what made you come on the show Isaac? “Well I saw a status on Facebook that I replied to and they called me for a Skype interview and here I am.”
What attracted you to the show was it the chance to meet someone? The chance to be on TV? “I’d say a bit of both really, the chance to meet someone and just have a laugh and a relaxed date and be on TV, I like to be the centre of attention haha.”
What expectations do you have from your date? Would you be open to a relationship? “It’s more just the experience to be honest, you’ve got to go into it with an open mind but yeah I’d say what drove me to taking part was the experience more than finding love.”
I mentioned to Emma that the dating industry is very online focused at the moment, what are your views on apps like Tinder? “Yeah I have used Tinder in the past, I’m not really very good at it I prefer being face to face that’s what I thrive on…meeting new people, talking to girls…it might not even be more than a chat but I just prefer talking in person. I just like being myself and having the opportunity to let people get to know me properly and I don’t think you can always do that online.”
So I’m going to put to you the same scenario I put to Emma…you’re going on a date and the second you see her you realise you’re not attracted to her in the slightest. What do you do? “Do you know what, I’m not the type of person who would just ditch out on her, I couldn’t do that and would feel so bad so I would just carry on. There’s a chance she might be thinking the same thing so you can still be adults and go out and enjoy a meal with someone without having to be attracted to them.”
What’s the most important thing to you when it comes to a girl? “I’d say sense of humour is key, I like to say a lot of random stuff and one-liners, I laugh a lot at my own jokes and I don’t want to be the only one laughing haha.
…and your biggest deal-breaker? “Live, Laugh, Love on their bedroom wall hahaha”
And so on to the big reveal. Having spent time with both Emma and Isaac I wasn’t at all sure they were each other’s type, however both were tremendous sports and lovely people so I was confident that they could at least have a fun night together.
The way the two clapped eyes on one another for the first time, shocked and startled, anyone would’ve thought Frankenstein’s monster had just awoken. However, they both looked great– in spite of their contrasting styles. The whole room held it’s breathe as they spoke for the first time, was it love? Absolutely not! Were they polite and chatty? Of course they were. Did they have a new-found respect for one another having gone through the same process? I’d say so. Most importantly, however, everyone had fun and that’s exactly what dating is all about! From myself to the director to the camera crew to the awesome stylists, the whole experience was a breathe of fresh air and everything I’d been craving for in a new dating show.
Emma and Isaac kitted out in their new looks hit the town that night where they enjoyed a sushi making session at a swanky restaurant. Did they hit it off?
No. Isaac threw up.
You can catch Strip Date every Tuesday, 8.30pm on 5Star.