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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 13:49 GMT
The Perfect Gentleman
To be a gentleman host, you must be over 50, a good dancer... and single.

Ryan teaching dance classes
The Perfect Gentleman
Tuesday, 12 April, 2005
1455 BST on BBC Two

Seventy-year-old Californian Gerald Ryan - known as Ryan to his friends - is no ordinary senior.

For 100 days a year, for the last 10 years, he has sailed the finest cruise ships of the world... for a living.

His job is to seek out the divorcees, widows and elderly singletons on the passenger list and offer them his time as a dinner companion or dance floor partner.

Many of the women he approaches are shy, so it often takes a great deal of persuasion to secure that first dance of the evening.

An accomplished ballroom dancer, Ryan is one of the few gentleman hosts confident enough to teach dance lessons during sea days on board too.

In fact, other hosts often attend his lessons to pick up some tips!

Strictly ballroom

Ryan has always been careful to stick by the rules, which means not fraternising too closely with any of the single ladies on board.

He insists he has no difficulty in retaining a professional distance from his clients, adding: "We're pretty good at being able to withdraw when a lady is getting a little too attached, shall we say."

Although relationships between hosts and passengers are strictly forbidden on board ship, if an attraction does develop, they are allowed to swap names and numbers.

On a recent cruise, Ryan did meet a very special someone, an English lady who is now his girlfriend.

And if romance continues to blossom, it may well mean his hosting days are numbered.

Filmed and produced by Ashok Prasad
Series producer: Kiran Soni
Executive producer: Karen O'Connor

Ryan's dancing rules
31 Mar 05 |  Golden Years
The professional gentleman host
11 Apr 05 |  Golden Years

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