First dates are often followed by a period of frantic self-doubt and unanswered questions: did I talk too much? Not enough? Was the garlic chicken a bad choice? It was a bad choice, wasn’t it?
If a second date never materialises, these questions can swirl around in the back of the mind for a long time. I’m still wondering whether Tom was put off by my ability to put away five large cookies on our cinema date 10 years ago. I never heard from him again.
But what if that person is still in your life? Fran and Will met on series eight of Channel 4’s First Dates and their awkward yet very sweet first conversations were broadcast to millions. (Fans of the show will remember them for their love of tweed and lack of dating experience.) Fast-forward a few years and they’re now engaged.
With First Dates Hotel back on Channel 4, we asked Fran and Will to cast their minds back to that night and ask each other 29 questions about the date. Who went in for the first kiss? It seems the story differs on that one...
1. Why did you apply to First Dates?
Fran: Life is too short so I thought, Why on earth not?
Will: I wasn’t having much luck on all the apps so I thought, Why not go on national television… I just wanted to meet someone but never dreamed of actually finding a soon-to-be wife.
2. What were your date criteria?
Fran: A lovely country man. In fact, 'a man in tweed is all you need' so it was an absolute necessity that he owned and liked tweed.
Will: Needs to love the countryside, and tweed would be a winner.
3. What was your idea of a dream date before First Dates?
Fran: To be completely honest, I really wasn’t used to dating. I did have a few dating apps and went on a few dates but if I was asked that question, then I probably would have answered like that poor girl in the film... March 22nd, haha!
Will: A few drinks in a pub beer garden.
4. What was going through your mind in the lead-up to the date?
Fran: I was absolutely terrified as I had no idea who they were going to match me with.
Will: A word that cannot legally be published.
5. What would have been the best case scenario?
Fran: I honestly went into the date with no expectations at all and thought, Right, even if we don’t go any further, we will have shared a wonderful experience that we can laugh about years later. Still to this day, I can’t quite believe I met 'the one'.
Will: A second date.
6. And the worst?
Fran: Someone I didn’t have anything in common with, and nothing to talk about.
Will: A sore cheek.
7. Were you initially attracted to me?
Fran: My darling Will, I was so terrified and shaking like a leaf so I didn’t exactly fall head over heels when I first saw you because it was all such a whirlwind, but I thought you were attractive, yes!
Will: Does the pope wear a pointy hat?
8. Who do you think was the most nervous?
Fran: Oh definitely me. Watching it back, I looked quite calm but I was terrified and sweating – you actually looked more nervous than me!
Will: I think we both looked like rabbits in headlights.
9. Do you remember what I was wearing?
Fran: I noticed your beautiful jacket straightaway and thought, Phew.
Will: I don’t think I will ever forget the 'brown thing'!
10. Did I compliment you?
Fran: You tried to... Remember that 'brown thing' I was wearing, my beautiful cashmere jumper which you insulted rather than complimented. You still do it now: say how beautiful I am when we are in bed after I have just switched the light off and it’s pitch black!
Will: Of course, you loved my tweed.
11. What did you think of my choice of drink?
Fran: A pint – fabulous! One regret I have from our date is that I had a glass of fizz because I love my pints but I was too embarrassed to order a huge beer.
12. Did I tell interesting stories?
Fran: Umm… I don’t think so! We had a lot in common so we did have things to speak about, which was lovely, and I think we both made each other feel comfortable.
Will: I couldn’t stop staring at you so I am not 100% sure what you were saying, I apologise.
13. Was I funny?
Fran: You made me laugh yes, but I still think I am the funnier one.
Will: You were and always have been absolutely hilarious.
14. Anything you said but wish you hadn’t?
Fran: No. I am glad we both said yes to seeing each other again!
Will: I think the second the word 'poncho' escaped my lips I knew I had made a mistake.
15. Did I have good table manners?
Fran: You were very polite and well mannered, which was a big tick.
16. Any awkward moments?
Fran: You asked me what my hobbies were and I thought, Oh my gosh, I can’t say 'going to the pub'... I honestly couldn’t think of anything to say at all so I said cooking, which was a complete lie.
Will: Compliments are not my strong suit.
17. Did your opinion of me change over the course of the date?
Fran: We both definitely relaxed as the date went on so I wouldn’t say my opinion changed, I just thought you chilled out a bit more.
Will: You were perfection from the moment you walked in. Everything you did and said merely enforced my initial opinion.
18. What is your favourite memory of the date?
Fran: That the first time we ever met was filmed and, if we want to, we can watch it over and over again and it will always be there. That’s quite something.
Will: When you said 'ditto'.
19. Any intimate moments?
Fran: I was terrified they had asked you to kiss me when we were sitting next to each other at the very end. I was like, No no, I am too shy! I thought we would knock each other out or something.
Will: In all honesty, I think we were trying to get through without ****ing anything up!
20. Where did we go after the date?
Fran: We went to a pub up the road from the restaurant, where I did have a pint. It was lovely because we could finally relax without the cameras.
Will: Off into the sunset…in the direction of the nearest pub!
21. Who made the first move for a kiss?
Fran: I think it was me! It was the third or fourth date and we were meeting up after work. I was walking towards you and I thought, He looks really rather dapper in his big tweed coat and suit. I had been too embarrassed and shy to kiss you before so as I was walking towards you I thought, Right, it is now or never. I gave you a peck on the lips.
Will: The gentleman, of course.
22. Was it a good kiss?
Fran: Well, yes it was I suppose.
Will: Well, the rest is history!
23. Who did you speak to first after the first date, and what did you tell them?
Fran: I rang Mummy Schiller, of course! I wanted to ring her in the restaurant when I went to the loo but I was in such a daze that I forgot.
Will: My housemates. I admitted I hadn’t been out for lunch with family as I had fibbed, but met someone incredible in a certain famous setting.
24. How would you sum up that date in three words?
Fran: Happy, wonderful memories!
Will: Slightly awkward perfection.
25. Did you see a future for us from that first date?
Fran: I did genuinely think this could go somewhere, which I had never felt before. I was excited for the next steps but also frightened at the prospect because you were my first proper 'boyfriend'. It makes me smile to think about it really.
26. Did marriage cross your mind?
Fran: As our relationship progressed we used to talk about it quite a lot but I was still flabbergasted when you proposed! Me, standing there in my rubber gloves, I almost fell over when you asked me. In fact I almost said no because I was in total shock and thought I was in a dream.
Will: Well, I didn’t want to get that far ahead of myself.
27. What did we do on our second date?
Fran: We went to an Italian restaurant.
Will: We had arranged to meet up a week later but by day two I couldn’t wait so I took you to dinner.
28. What do you see for our future?
Fran: A long and happy marriage, my darling. I am so excited about our future. Here’s to many more happy memories together.
Will: Laughter and happiness.
29. Anything about that first date that you haven’t shared before? Now’s the time…
Fran: I just feel so lucky that it was you waiting at the bar for me. I am a huge believer in fate and I genuinely think our meeting was written in the stars. As corny as it sounds, I never thought I would know what it was like to love someone and now I do. Love really is the strongest force on Earth!
Will: I don’t know if you could tell…but I was slightly nervous.