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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Do you come here all too often?
After Blind Date, a new BBC show offers singletons a more scientific approach to finding Mr or Ms Right, and claims a 100% success rate. Here, two of the programme's dating experts relate their top tips to BBC News Online's Megan Lane.

Ever made eye contact with a beautiful stranger, only to bottle out of making an approach at the last minute? Ever stressed about what to wear, what to talk about on a first date?

Would Like to Meet
All six singles who took part in the show are now seeing someone special
Thus, in keeping with the BBC's public service remit, I sought advice from the experts on how to improve one's chances of a successful date.

Our advisers were drawn from the expert team consulted in BBC2's new dating show, Would Like to Meet, in which 30-something singles receive a six-week refresher course on how to attract the opposite sex.

What to wear
The most common pitfalls are for women to go too tarty and men too slobby, says stylist Jay Hunt.

"If you're going to take your first date to a cosy pub in the country, you shouldn't turn up looking like you're out for a night clubbing with half a ton of glitter in your hair and a little strappy top."

Jay Hunt
Jay Hunt: "Ditch the head-to-toe black"
Instead, pick a more relaxed outfit - something quietly sexy.

"As for the men, one participant turned up wearing a T-shirt with Wasted written across the front. He thought it looked cool and funny, but the girl thought he hadn't made an effort."

But a suit is also a no-no, unless the date is straight after work.

Top tip for both sexes? Ditch the black and beware of going overboard on the hair goop - "It may put off someone who wants to run their hands through your hair."

Chat up lines
Approaching an attractive stranger is a tactical exercise, says Steven Anderson, an actor who trains comedy compères.

"You have to dodge the minefield and walk away unscathed. Be confident of what you are going to say - you can't just wing it.

Steven Anderson
Steven Anderson: "We're talking strategic stuff"
"Check out the situation first. Reccie the event to make sure you're not intruding. Then go SAS style - get in there, take care of business, get out again."

While you can be a bit cheeky while chatting to someone in a loud bar, supermarkets require a more subtle manoeuvre.

"A nice angle to go for might be to approach someone at the wine stand and say, 'I'm a white wine drinker but my friends like red - can you recommend one to go with fish?'"

Confidence tricks
Nothing like a bit of Dutch courage to start the date, right? Wrong.

"Many people are nervous, so they start drinking quickly or have a swifty or two before the date. This just makes them look quite sweaty, quite flushed," says Jay.

To avoid the weight of expectation, Steven suggests pretending you are auditioning for a new friend.

"Ask yourself, 'Is this someone I wouldn't mind going down to the pub with for a beer?' If you've got that going on in your head, it takes the pressure off wondering if they want to see you again."

Conversation tips
Most daters think they sound as assured and knowledgeable as David Dimbleby, but actually come across more like Mr Blobby.

Steven's solution? Be up to speed on the current events of the day, both hard-edged and tabloid trashy.

And meet for lunch if at all possible. "The beauty with lunch is that after a couple of hours, you are free to go. If you're getting on like a house on fire, you can keep it going."

Treat the date like episode one of An Audience With, and don't give away too much about yourself.

"Work out three or four questions that you'd love to be asked and then ask them of the person you're with. They'll answer the question, then reciprocate - and you'll have this comfortable anecdote to recount."

Success story one
Janine, before and after
Before and after: From "just a mum" to dating diva
Janine Lawrence, a single mum in her 30s from Brighton, described herself as a "geezer bird" when she volunteered for the show.

"She just looked completely slobby," Jay says. "She went on her dummy date wearing her hair in bunches and she fidgeted with her clothes the whole way through."

The team urged Janine to think of herself as a woman, not "just a mum". Jay banned bunches and got her used to wearing sunglasses on school and supermarket runs.

"By the end, she said she felt like an All Saint."

Success story two
George, before and after
Before and after: From mummy's boy to lady's man
George Janopolous, a 35-year-old primary school teacher, lives with his mum in Putney, west London.

"On his dummy date, he looked like a pastiche of a '50s matinee idol because his mum was advising him on what to wear," Jay says.

But by week six, he had peroxided his hair and snapped off the "George's room" sign on his bedroom door.

"He hadn't asked a girl out before he came on our show," Steven says. "George now is dangerous. There is no-one he will not chat up."

With that sort of intensive coaching, no wonder Would Like to Meet has a higher success rate than the get-'em-drunk-and-see-'em-snog dating shows.

Would Like to Meet starts Saturday 8 September, 7pm on BBC2.

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Some of your comments so far:

I had a first date with a vision, whom I believed was THE picture of vulnerable femininity. At an expensive restaurant, she described the steak she wanted as "cut off the horns and bring it in - I want it rare". The waiter recovered, I didn't.
Dave, United States

I had my first banana daiquiri on a first date, and after about 20 minutes was so sleepy, I had to ask the guy to stop at a park so I could get a few minutes sleep on the grass...
Eilat, Argentina

I went on a date with a seemingly sharp-dressing TV reporter. When he came to pick me up, he was wearing "little boy" shorts and socks pulled halfway up his calves. Obviously TV stylists were behind the initial attraction.
Elizabeth, NZ

I once went on a blind date set up by an (ex) friend. The girl turned up in a Celtic football shirt, got falling-down drunk, told me I look like Patrick Swayze and punched me in the groin.
Jon, Belgium

I was staring at the coffee in a supermarket. A woman came up beside me. After a pause she said in a cool tone, while still looking at the coffee: "Do you see anything you like?" I was so dumbstruck I missed the moment.
Ricardo Nunnini, England

I went to a beer tasting with a journalist, who spent the evening making silly comments and drinking as much free beer as he could. Then he tried to make a move on me after telling me about his girlfriend and their sex life.
Chris, UK

I got talking to a lovely girl at a nightclub, and I thought I'd seen her working at a local bar a year before. I asked if she worked there, and got an evil look. Later a friend informed me it had changed to a strip joint.
Wakefield Turner, Birmingham

Have an exclusion zone around your neighbourhood. I dated a guy who lives in my street. After several months it ended very bitterly. I see him every morning on my way to work and every week in the supermarket.
Andrew Kenny, UK

I turned up to a date with a woman I had met in a pub to discover she'd invited me to an outing with her singles club. I spent the evening being stared at and cross examined by the other "lonely hearts".
Marcus Fry, UK

Whatever you do, DON'T find a date over the internet. It's too easy for (both parties) to pretend to be something they're not.
Karl, UK

I met my husband over the net and nobody can ever believe it, we're both so "normal". Just be careful and follow all the common sense guidelines.
Emma, UK

Have you had a dreadful dating experience? Or do you have any better advice? Add your comments by using the form below.

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See also:

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You CAN hurry love
15 Feb 00 | UK
Puppy love in the park
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