When was First Dates filmed and how did it keep to Covid lockdown guidelines?

20 January 2021, 15:04 | Updated: 20 January 2021, 15:14

First look at new First Dates restaurant in Manchester

Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

The new series of First Dates was filmed during the coronavirus pandemic - here's how they kept to the guidelines.

First Dates is officially back on our screens, and our favourite heart-warming dating show couldn't have come at a better time.

The show has moved to Manchester for the first time, and is being filmed in The Refinery in Spinningfields.

It started on Tuesday 19 January, and features a new set of faces joining beloved staff like Merlin Griffiths, Fred Sirieix and Cici Coleman.

Many viewers have been left wondering how they managed to film the show during the pandemic, as nobody in the restaurant was wearing face masks.

Here's your need-to-know.

First Dates is in a brand-new Manchester location
First Dates is in a brand-new Manchester location. Picture: Channel 4

When was First Dates filmed?

First Dates was filmed over the last year, while there were a number of changes in rules amid the ongoing pandemic.

Filming was scheduled to start in March 2020, but - because of lockdown - it was shut down, and didn't resume until September.

First Dates is on Tuesdays at 10pm on Channel 4
First Dates is on Tuesdays at 10pm on Channel 4. Picture: Channel 4

How did First Dates film during the pandemic?

At the time, Greater Manchester was in Tier 3, but filming was allowed to go ahead as it was a closed TV set and not open to the general public.

Show bosses were able to make the show look like it usually does (without face masks and social distancing) due to rapid coronavirus testing on set.

Producer Sarah Fink said: "The crucial bit for us was to test people as close as them going into the restaurant as possible, so they knew they were negative when they went in, and knew that everyone around them was also negative."

She added to the BBC that waiting and editorial staff, kitchen staff, crew members and daters were all tested "so that everyone could feel comfortable that they could be normal in that environment, just for that one day".

Each dater due to appear on the show was given a hotel room where a testing station had been set up, and they were allowed to go ahead with filming after receiving a negative result.

Daniella, one of the new waitresses, told Metro.co.uk: "We filmed in March and September.

"There was some filming we did in lockdown but we followed all of the procedures and everyone had Covid tests.

"Everything has been really safe."


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