Blind Date (UK game show)

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Blind Date
Blind Date Logo.png
Genre Dating game show
Presented by Cilla Black
Voices of Graham Skidmore (1985–2002)
Tommy Sandhu (2002–3)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 18
No. of episodes 376 (inc. 10 specials)
Location(s) The London Studios
Running time 45 minutes (Series 1–4)
50 minutes (Series 5)
60 minutes (Series 6–18)
Production company(s) LWT
Distributor ITV Studios
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3 (1985–2001)
16:9 (2001–3)
Original run 30 November 1985 (1985-11-30) – 31 May 2003 (2003-05-31)
Related shows Blind Date: Kiss & Tell
Take Me Out
The Love Machine

Blind Date is a British dating game show produced by London Weekend Television. An unscreened pilot was made with comic Duncan Norvelle as presenter[1] but it was eventually hosted by Cilla Black, who already hosted the LWT series, Surprise Surprise. Blind Date ran on Saturday nights from 30 November 1985 to 31 May 2003.

Blind Date returned on 16 October 2013, to celebrate Black's 50-year career in the entertainment industry. This special one-off was part of another programme, The One and Only Cilla Black, presented by Paul O'Grady.[2] Blind Date producers brought back three of the show's most memorable contestants who were still single, giving them a second chance to win a date.[3] However, the couple's date was not shown.


The show had a format similar to the show known in Australia as Perfect Match or in the US as The Dating Game. Three singles of the same sex were introduced to the audience. They were then questioned by a single of the opposite sex, who could hear but not see them, to choose with whom to go on a date. Before the decision 'Graham' (replaced on the final series by Tommy Sandhu), who was never seen, gave an amusing reminder of each contestant. The couple then picked an envelope naming their destination. The following episode showed the couple on their date, and interviews with them about the date and about each other. Locations ranged from Bognor Regis or a date in an ice cream factory, to Anguilla or the Maldives.

In the final series, the format was tweaked; the "Ditch or Date?" twist was added to the show.[4] Also, a behind-the-scenes companion show, called Blind Date: Kiss & Tell was produced for ITV2 and hosted by Sarah Cawood and Brendan Courtney.

In 2003, the show was broadcast live to try and improve dwindling ratings.


A pilot was shot in early 1985 fronted by comedian Duncan Norvelle. John Birt, LWT's director of programmes, and the IBA regulatory body had reservations about Norvelle's camp style. Black had seen The Dating Game in the US and enthused about it to LWT's Alan Boyd, who produced Surprise, Surprise and who made the Norvelle pilot. After two pilots starring Black, the series was commissioned.[1] Thelma Pickles, an old girlfriend of John Lennon, worked as a producer on the show.[5] The distinctive theme music for Blind Date has a strong resemblance to the jazz standard "Soft Winds".


At the height of its popularity in the 1980s, 18.2 million tuned in on a Saturday night. Black's scouse accent and her catchphrases became familiar throughout the United Kingdom. The first episode of Series 17, on 10 November 2001, was reportedly watched at 19:00 GMT by seven million viewers – 32% of the audience. Although, this was around a million fewer than tuned in to its debut episode in the previous series.[6]

Viewing figures declined to 5 million by 2003.[citation needed] The final episode in May 2003 was seen by 2.9 million viewers.[7]


The series ended in 2003 when, during an episode on 4 January 2003 (the first to be broadcast live), Black announced she was quitting the show.[8][9] The production crew had not been told. Production was halted after the series ended; Dale Winton and Paul O'Grady were to be in line for her replacement[10] but the show was later cancelled. ITV had been refused permission to make changes to the format by Columbia, the US company which owned Blind Date.

However, ITV briefly aired a similar replacement show in 2004 hosted by Davina McCall, called Love on a Saturday Night and since 2010, Take Me Out, hosted by Paddy McGuinness which is still airing.

Famous contestants[edit]

Blind Date featured celebrities before they became well known. These include:

A Comic Relief special in 1993 had Mr Bean on the show. The sketch featured Rowan Atkinson as Bean, Barbara Durkin as Tracy, Bean's date and Cilla Black. The skit also featured Alan Cumming, in one of his earliest on-screen acting roles.


During the show's history, three Blind Date weddings took place and were watched by millions of television viewers. Black was a guest at the weddings.

  • Sue Middleton & Alex Tatham (1991) – met on the show in 1988, married in October 1991 and celebrated 25 years together in 2013[21]
  • Lillian Morris & David Fenson (1994) – they married in February 1994 in Tiverton, Devon[22]
  • Anna Azonwanna & Paul Pratt (1998) – met on the show in September 1993 and married October 1998 in Barbados.[23] The other couples also attended the wedding with Cilla.[24]

On 29 December 2001, the episode saw contestant Hannarle Davies from Essex propose to Mark Ackerell from Buckinghamshire; after they fell in love on their date to Vienna, Austria.[25]



Series Start date End date Episodes
1 30 November 1985 11 January 1986 7
2 30 August 1986 21 December 1986 15
3 5 September 1987 25 December 1987 17
4 3 September 1988 24 December 1988 17
5 16 September 1989 10 February 1990 21
6 29 September 1990 2 February 1991 19
7 7 September 1991 25 January 1992 19
8 10 October 1992 27 March 1993 21
9 18 September 1993 5 February 1994 18
10 1 October 1994 4 March 1995 22
11 16 September 1995 2 March 1996 24
12 28 September 1996 8 March 1997 24
13 20 September 1997 14 March 1998 26
14 21 November 1998 15 May 1999 24
15 20 November 1999 13 May 2000 24
16 18 November 2000 5 May 2001 24
17 10 November 2001 25 May 2002 26
18 12 October 2002 31 May 2003 28


Date Entitle
29 July 1989 The Best of Blind Date
22 September 1990 The Best of Blind Date
9 February 1991 The Best of Blind Date
20 October 1991 Blind Date Wedding of the Year
18 July 1992 Telethon Special
1 January 1994 The Best of Blind Date
12 February 1994 Wedding & Best of the Rest
31 December 1994 The Tenth Anniversary Show
6 September 1997 Blind Date Exclusive
20 June 1999 Blind Date Wedding 1998


  1. ^ a b Jennings, Luke (6 March 1994). "Independent on Sunday, 6 March 1994". The Independent (London). Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "The One And Only Cilla Black". ITV Press Centre. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Tom Eames (14 June 2013). "Cilla Black to host one-off 'Blind Date' on ITV for 50th anniversary". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Charlie Brooker's Screen burn: Blind Date". The Guardian. 26 October 2002. 
  5. ^ Beatles Girls, Thelma Pickles page, Jeannette Caserta
  6. ^ "Blind Date makes strong return". BBC News Online. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "ITV gives 'Blind Date' the axe". Digital Spy. 22 June 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "Cilla quits Blind Date". BBC News Online. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Cilla quits ‘Blind Date’ after fronting the popular dating-game show for 18 years!". 7 January 2003. 
  10. ^ "Blind Date to continue". BBC News Online. 6 January 2003. 
  11. ^ Speight in Blind Date
  12. ^ Revealed: The spot where tragic TV star Mark Speight's body hung undiscovered for six days
  13. ^ Blind Date Christmas 1989
  14. ^ Amanda Holden
  15. ^ Biography Howard Griffiths
  16. ^ Ed Byrne
  17. ^ How Jenni played a Blinder; GMTV's Jenni Falconer may have got her big break on Blind Date but she still hasn't found love
  18. ^ Blind Date Veterans
  19. ^ Nikki Grahame
  20. ^ Tara Palmer-Tomkinson
  21. ^ "Blind Date couple who met on Cilla Black's TV show still happy together after 25 years". Daily Mirror. 30 June 2013. 
  22. ^ "Granada's hot new date: It started 30 years ago as one man's tentative idea. Today, as Blind Date, it is one of the most valuable properties in British television - and, like it or not, a part of our national heritage". The Independent. 6 March 1994. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "Matchmaker Cilla Black celebrates the third ‘Blind Date’ wedding with a lavish TV special". 10 June 1999. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "BLIND DATE (Blind Date Wedding 1998)". ITN Source. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Blind Date contestant's proposal". BBC News Online. 29 December 2001. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 

External links[edit]