Zoe spilled the secrets of the show after appearing in 2020 (Picture: ITV)
There are dozens of glossy dating programmes out there, but no other show captures the awkwardness of it all quite like Dinner Date.
For more than a decade, it’s provided us with some of the cringiest and endlessly compelling viewing on British telly.
Over the course of almost 300 episodes, we’ve followed the romantic exploits of prospective partners as they meet for the first time and enjoy a dinner date in each other’s houses.
But what’s it really like to go on Dinner Date?
We spoke to Zoe Georgiou, a senior PR executive who starred as a contestant on the programme back in 2020.
Zoe hosted Love Island’s Michael Griffiths for a date as part of a celebrity version of Dinner Date, and spilled all the insider secrets about her time during filming.
Applying is easier than you might think
Zoe Georgiou went on a date with Love Island’s Michael Griffiths on the show (Picture: Zoe Georgiou)
Thinking of going on? The application process sounds like a doddle.
‘I had to go to a few stages of interviews,’ Zoe tells us. ‘The first interview was a phone call, the second interview was a video call. And then the third interview was another phone call.’
The next thing Zoe knew, she was on the show.
But the day itself sounds gruelling by comparison
On her day of filming, Zoe headed off to work as normal and came home at lunch, where she was joined by two producers.
‘You start at 12pm and film your introduction,’ Zoe said. ‘They ask you questions like “What is your type?” and “What do you expect from this day?” and stuff like that. And then you start cooking at 3pm until about 8pm.’
Most of the time, though, is actually spent getting the right shots for the director.
‘When you’re cooking, you have to do a lot of stuff over and over. So when you get something from the fridge, it has to be filmed at various angles. That took up a lot of time rather than cooking.’
They don’t always let you choose your hobbies
Zoe and Michael had an awkward date on the show (Picture: ITV)
Everyone on the programme shares their interests and hobbies with viewers and films accompanying clips – but the contestants don’t always get to decide what they are.
‘You don’t get to choose your hobbies,’ Zoe said. ‘They give you your hobby. So mine was painting a ceramic cat – which obviously made all my friends p*** themselves.’
She explained: ‘I think they just chose it for me because I was a fashion student and I’m really interested in art and work in a creative industry.’
The date won’t always go well…
Michael appeared on series five of Love Island (Picture: ITV)
Just like in real life, blind dates don’t always work out as hoped. As Zoe knows only too well, it’s not always love at first sight.
Describing her encounter with Michael, Zoe said: ‘The date went absolutely horrifically. He just wasn’t very nice, but when the cameras were off he was a lovely guy.’
In the end, the pair didn’t quite hit it off on the day, and Zoe ‘didn’t get picked for the final date’.
But a bad rating doesn’t mean all hope is lost
Zoe served a Greek-inspired menu on the show (Picture: ITV)
Despite only giving Michael one and a half stars during their date and telling him she ‘hated him’ (in jest, it must be said), Zoe ended up meeting up with Michael a few times after the filming.
‘I told him I hated him on TV. That’s just my sense of humor,’ she said, ‘but I actually ended up seeing him a couple times after the show.’
Make sure you bring a change of clothes – or six
Zoe wasn’t too impressed with her date Michael (Picture: ITV)
The majority of filming takes place over the course of one intense day. However, the production team makes sure there’s plenty of outfit changes to give the illusion of the shoot lasting much longer.
‘They make you change outfits a lot to make them look like it’s probably a different days,’ Zoe says. ‘You have your introduction outfit, your hobby outfit, your cooking outfit, your day outfit, your pyjamas, and then your next day outfit.’
The dates themselves last for hours – and you don’t even get to finish your food
Dating can be awkward at the best of times, but especially when the date took six hours to film.
‘You get set times to eat,’ Zoe said. ‘So if you don’t finish your food, it’s taken to the kitchen. It’s difficult to eat and talk at the same time, so that’s why a lot of the time on the show the meals aren’t finished.’
And the food you see people eating on dates? It’s always stone cold.
Zoe entertained Michael during their date (Picture: ITV)
‘None of the food that you cook can be prepared when your date is there,’ Zoe said. ‘So it all has to be cold.’
It’s a very late finish – and a very early start
If you’re thinking of applying, you can rest assured you’ll be in for a long night.
‘They were at my house until about 2am,’ Zoe said, before adding: ‘And then they came back at 7am the next morning.’
They film a LOT of takes
The pair didn’t hit it off so much during the episode (Picture: ITV)
‘When Michael first comes to the door in my episode, that got filmed 10 times. You have to say “Hi” to each other 10 times before you actually sit down and talk,’ Zoe said.
The producers are very nice, but there are strict rules
‘They were really lovely and we had a drink and stuff before the date started,’ Zoe said about the crew.
Explaining their set of rules, she added: ‘We weren’t allowed to speak when the cameras weren’t rolling. So for example, I went to get a drink and I was like, “I like your tattoos on your hands” and they’re like, “No, no, don’t talk.”’
Zoe went on to say: ‘It made for very disjointed conversations. They give you topics to talk about. They encourage you to think about certain things and bring up certain things.’
If things go well on Dinner Date, you might get asked to go on other things on the back of it.
‘I have been approached by a lot of other TV shows, like dating shows on Netflix,’ Zoe explained. ‘I’ve interviewed for Love Island before. After Dinner Date was the second time I’ve been approached.’
Don’t be surprised by the harsh editing
Zoe has been offered roles on other shows since (Picture: ITV)
However well the date goes, Zoe urged people to be aware of how much the episodes are edited to suit a narrative.
‘I guess everyone who doesn’t know me probably thinks I came across as a b**** because my sense of humor is quite dry. Oviously they edited it in a way to make you look a certain way,’ Zoe said.
‘When I was joking and laughing, they cut up and had me rolling my eyes. I guess a lot of people probably don’t know that it’ll be like that. Other people might be surprised by it. But yeah, I didn’t take offense to that. I don’t really care.’
You get a budget to buy food and drink with
‘They pay for all the food and alcohol. You have a budget which they give you after you show them your menu,’ Zoe said.
‘I think it was 100 pounds. It wasn’t a huge amount. I just went out to Aldi and bought everything and got a few bottles of wine.’
There’s way more drinking that you might expect
‘I was so drunk on it,’ Zoe laughed. ‘You’re there for so long and there are so many awkward silences that you just drink.
‘In the last clip where you’re supposed to put your pyjamas on, I was so drunk I just ended up just putting my dressing gown over my outfit. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open!’
What’s the biggest advice Zoe would have for applicants?
‘Be prepared to laugh at yourself,’ Zoe advised, before saying that you shouldn’t expect to find your soul mate on the programme.
‘Don’t expect to meet somebody. I guess if you do meet somebody, that’s a nice touch.’
She added: ‘I went on it as a joke, but people that are actually going on it to find love I do question.’
Would Zoe recommend signing up for the show?
‘Yes, definitely! It was so much fun!’
Dinner Date is available to watch on ITV Hub.
Credit: Original article published here.