The UK has been good to the dating genre, and broadcaster Channel 4 has been better than most. Just this year, it has commissioned shows such as Bryan Elsley-penned drama Dates, while groundbreaking disability-themed series The Undateables has been lauded for its approach.
Warner Bros. International Television Production is taking one of Channel 4’s latest venture in the genre, Date Night (known in the UK as First Dates), to the international market as a finished programme and a format.
The series seeks to play with audience expectations of dating shows by borrowing from the hidden camera and ob doc genres. Each episode sees different couples who have arranged a date on the internet meeting for the first time in a unique restaurant, in which every detail is captured on hidden fixed-rig cameras. If the dates are unsuccessful, the singles advertise themselves to viewers at home, who can then appear on the following week’s show.
“Date Night is by far the most authentic dating show you will see,” says WBITVP’s senior VP, creative, format development and sales Andrew Zein. “Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall on someone’s first date? Every person has either gone through the experience or will do so. This format gives unprecedented access into these dates as hidden cameras capture every detail.”
The first episode, which took 833,000 viewers (4.3% overall share) on Channel 4 on launch night (June 20), saw 1,050 men appeal to date a 23 year-old cheerleader and dance coach called Fahye.
A second season has been commissioned for next year and WBITVP is billing it as a “unique and truly authentic dating format”. Twenty Twenty, which Warner Bros. owns through its UK powerhouse Shed Media, is attached to produce.
“Dating is a universal theme and this format is a simple and intriguing concept, brilliantly executed, easily replicable which we feel will travel well internationally. We will be taking it to MIPCOM and presenting it to all our buyers. There is already interest from a number of territories,” says Zein.
He and his team will be targeting “any” primetime slot available, notifying buyers of the added caveat that “the interactive element of the format means that people can keep talking about the show even after the credits have rolled”.
The show: Date Night
The producer: Twenty Twenty
The distributor: Warner Bros. International Television Production
The broadcaster: Channel 4
Concept: A dating format in which hidden cameras record the first meeting of singles that have met online