First Dates is returning for a new series filmed in Manchester this autumn, but how exactly are they managing to pull it off in the middle of a local lockdown?
Some new insider information has given us an insight into how it’s going down.
Filming for the new series of the hit Channel 4 dating show – which first arrived on TV screens in the UK back in 2013 – had already begun at Spinningfields restaurant The Refinery in March, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic understandably brought production to a halt.
The show’s star host and Maître D, Fred Sirieix, has confirmed via social media this week though that filming is now back underway.
Writing in a post shared to Instagram, Fred said: “So happy and excited to let you know that after 6 months of forced closure due to COVID-19, we have finally re-opened the First Dates restaurant.
“We are back in business and more determined than ever to make love happen.”
First Dates’ simple format sees singletons matched up for a blind dinner date and there’s already an impressive success rate having led to several engagements, marriages and even a baby, but for a show that’s centred around finding love, how will this work under local lockdown restrictions?
With a number of necessary social distancing measures having to be put in place, it was thought that couples participating in the show would be prevented from exchanging in any form of physical contact – including hugging and kissing – but now, an insider source has revealed to the Manchester Evening News that this might not necessarily be the case.
The source said that because the restaurant is now a TV set, it does not operate under the same rules.
They stated that the filming crew is sticking to strict COVID-19 guidelines that govern closed sets – such as regular testing of themselves and contributors – but confirmed that, once on the closed set, daters can “interact as normal”, without the need for social distancing, so this means that a smooch could be on the cards after all.
The spokesperson said: “First Dates’ restaurant location is a closed TV set that is not open to the general public.
“The production is abiding by strict COVID-19 guidelines and protocols, and all contributors will be taking a COVID-19 test in advance of filming and only allowed to film if their result is negative.”
The Manc has reached out to Channel 4 for follow-up comment and is awaiting response.
Want in on the action yourself?
Fancy going on what is potentially one of the best socially-distanced date nights there is in Manchester city centre right now?
You can also see the railway lines snaking through the city centre, cars nipping around the ring road, and the comparatively small apartment blocks around Castlefield.
Commenting on the video, one person said: “This is mint.”
Another wrote: “Fricken love this!!!!”
Featured image: @lef_tsotour
Question Time audience stunned as first-time buyer says mortgage quote DOUBLED
Thursday night’s Question Time audience could be heard audibly gasping after a fellow crowd member revealed that her mortgage quote had doubled followed the recent mini-budget.
Taping in Manchester on 29 September, the current events and politics programme was discussing property when would-be first-time buyer Rabia revealed that her mortgage offer had jumped from an initial amount of 4.5% interest to a shocking 10.5% in just a matter of days.
As you can see in the incredible clip, both the audience and the panel are taken aback at the revelation.
The Greater Manchester resident said she is desperate to know what the government’s plan for mortgages is as following the latest revision, she says she simply cannot afford to put the money down on her first home.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer weighed in on the social media reaction, quote tweeting the clip from his party’s own account and stating that “the Tories must get back to Parliament and reverse their kamikaze budget” as the current economic mess is being “paid for by working people”.
To make matters worse, Rabia was given no clarification from her lenders, only that they were pulling her offers. Conservative MP and Minister for Local Government, Faith and Communities, Paul Scully had little information to offer her either, simply stating it is a short-term effect and that the market will stabilise.
Scully was subject to an entirely different reaction from the audience as well after his blind attempts to defend Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng were met with laughter. Conversely, Richard Bacon was met with applause after he labelled the mini-budget “absurd”.
As if the anti-Tory sentiment wasn’t already at a high, the chancellor’s mini-budget – which saw the corporations, bankers and the generally wealthy benefit ahead of the working class – has seen fresh calls for a general election to be held as soon as possible.
Beyond declaring a so-called £2,500 limit on energy bills (which many have warned isn’t a guaranteed cap), there was seemingly very little in the way of policy that
For those still unclear as to what was announced in the divisive mini-budget, here is a quick summary:
Speaking in a speech at the Labour conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, Starmer said that the government “haven’t just failed to fix the roof, they’ve ripped out the foundations, smashed the windows and now they’ve blown the doors off for good measure.