It’s Christmas and at last we finally saw Sam and Cici revealing their feelings for each other in First Dates’ own Love Actually moment to end the series.

Yasmin and Ryan

29 year old operations manager Yasmin is looking for a new partner in time for Christmas. The Manchester lass is looking for someone who wants to marry, who will have kids, and won’t cheat. They’re basic requirements, but it’s something she’s struggling with when it comes to men. Yasmin has been single for six months, and doesn’t think she’s had the confidence to put herself out there.

She might appear like “she has her shit together” yet she’s so far away from getting married and having children which is so unlike her friends. Yasmin is looking for someone tall, with good facial hair, and good teeth too.

So hoping to dazzle Yasmin with her good teeth is 31-year-old Ryan who works in the dental profession. Ryan seemed very happy with the match of Yasmin. The two were quickly chin-wagging about Yasmin’s avocado cocktail which Merlin had served up at the bar. The fact Ryan wasn’t disapproving about the drink put her in good stead.

It’s unfortunate for Ryan that his least favourite first date setting is a restaurant, so being on First Dates seemed to be the least ideal place to meet a prospective girlfriend.

Unlike Yasmin, Ryan has been fortunate in having first dates since his last relationship. He’s had six, but none of them progressed to second dates. He had been engaged in a previous relationship but the two came to realise they wanted different things. Yasmin by contrast has been let down by her past partner. The cheating left her feeling not good enough and dirty after investing in time and love into someone that didn’t feel the same way.

Things were going well until Yasmin started talking about her active lifestyle and doing yoga – something that Robert believes was really for 70-year-olds. Nonetheless, the two did seem to click, and the niceness of Robert gave Yasmin some confidence that she seemed to have lost with her last relationship. The pair were keen to meet again. With tonight’s episode we never find out how the couples progress, so fingers crossed it all works out.

Mandi and Robert

59 year old Mandi from Shropshire and high-end catering company. She’s served the Royal Family, but she’s still looking for her Prince Charming this Christmas. Mandi certainly got people talking on social media – she turned up with a bird’s nest of a haircut complete with a bird in her hair.

Mandi seemed a charismatic lady, she had even put a bar stool in her kitchen a week before her date to ensure she was able to elegantly turn up to Merlin’s bar without revealing too much or looking awkward.

Antique dealer Robert, 66, from Essex is Mandi’s date. He’s sold a lot of rugs in his time, but when it comes to dating he’s a bit more threadbare. He admits knowing more about rugs than he does women, in his view they’re a lot more complicated!

Mandi and Robert didn’t seem to have First Dates nerves but were slightly apprehensive. Mandi admitted finding love is now her toughest conquest in life after setting up a successful business, she finds the job a good distraction from her personal life. If she doesn’t find someone who’s going to look for a sugar daddy who’s at the end of their life, who she can benefit financially from. At least she’s honest!

Mandi and Robert are both pet lovers. Mandi has a pink poodle, Robert has an affectionate cat. The cat is the only affection he gets in life after getting divorced many years ago, but he has nothing bad to say about his ex-wife. Robert isn’t in any rush to find a new love interest, he wants to get things right, something Mandi didn’t disagree with either.

Robert perhaps was giving a bit of a premonition by saying this, as despite Mandi finding Robert worthy of a second date, Robert was only interested in meeting again as friends. Nonetheless Mandi loved the attention, and loved being on a First Date with someone who paid her such attention.

Roisin and Johnny

30-year-old events manager Roisin has been spending the last year struggling with her own personal relations. Despite her looks, she wants to make it perfectly clear she’s not one of those ‘girl next door’ ladies. Her job means she has a bit of a label of a party girl. She admits to going out a lot, but actually she feels like she’s got to the age where she’s done all of that and feels she wants to settle down.

32-year-old software account manager Johnny from Portsmouth is Roisin’s date. Arriving in a leather jacket he frequently gets asked if he’s in a band. He manages a band, so he does tend to get a lot of groupies, but clearly he’s looking for something a bit more than that. He shares Roisin’s outlook that now is the time to change his lifestyle.

Johnny sees himself as quite a charmer too, he says he can talk women into bed, although admits he certainly can’t dance them into bed. He certainly didn’t seem to start off that charming – talking about his dislike for many foods, including a bad experience with garlic. He’s going to have to step it up a gear to win his date over!

Both Roisin and Johnny have had a bit of a rock-and-roll lifestyle, Roisin went to live in LA at the Playboy Mansion. Johnny has spent some time living in America, but to Roisin’s disappointment it was Florida.

While Roisin was single for three years, Johnny has been single for eight. Now they’re feeling the pressure the older they get. For Roisin, her frustration was trying to find someone prepared to commit, and at the moment it’s leaving her feeling not good enough.

As the night went on, in my view, there were some big differences between the two. Johnny loved recent indie music, whereas Roisin was more into older music. Johnny didn’t really enjoy the theatre, whereas Roisin did. He didn’t read, again a stark difference. There seemed to be some very awkward moments.

Johnny thought the evening went well, but Roisin’s face dropped when he admitted to wanting to see her again romantically. She friend-zoned him, and he was somewhat gobsmacked to hear she wasn’t up for a second date.

Scott and Jim

One king keen to share his crown jewels this Christmas is 29-year-old Scott from London. Scott is an embroidery designer, who has even designed for the Royal Family. His job isn’t just work, but his love and life too.

Scott’s date tonight is Royal Academy of Arts assistant Jim, 25, and also from London. The pair hit it off from the start as Jim turned up in an embroidered short made by his friend. Jim admits decadence excites him, and the pair seemed to share a mutual love of eccentricity. Jim even had a work of art he could compare the dating scene to – a thousand squiggles where no one really knows if it’s going anywhere.

Jim had been single for a couple of years, whereas Scott has only been single for a year, and it seemed he was still feeling a bit caught up about the break-up. Scott’s problem is apparently a problem with flirting, he says he needs to go on a course about it, and even more of a problem is trying to make eye contact on dates.

The two however seemed to hit it off despite the awkward flirting through the meal.

Scott and Jim both seemed up for seeing each other again although the pair seemed very hesitant about opening up with their feelings on camera.

Sophie and Mehmet

Old fashioned Mehmet is looking for his happy ever after. The 34-year-old from London is looking for true love. He wants to meet someone serious – a Princess for his castle. The ideal for Mehmet would be Holly Willoughby. Someone down to earth, with banter, and wants a bit of fun but also having a connection with him. Mehmet had even brought flowers for tonight’s date.

Self-confessed Princess 24-year-old Sophie from London is Mehmet’s date. Sophie’s ideal date changes every week, but she’s looking for someone who will treat her like the princess she wants to be. Mehmet was soon pulling out the compliments for Sophie, who is a make-up artist.

Sophie didn’t set the First Date up very well in the restaurant by revealing she wasn’t particularly keen on eating tonight. That’s after ordering a three course meal. Nor did she seem particularly into Mehmet’s romantic gestures and old-fashioned view of dating. She would rather have make-up and fragrance. Mehmet fears he’s being too nice on dates, and that perhaps he needs to change himself to play more difficult to get.

Despite Mehmet’s best efforts, Sophie was being very difficult on the date. As well as not getting too excited about his romantic gestures,
she has a very materialistic view of what she wanted from a man, and she wouldn’t accept that she was in any way easy to get along with. She also didn’t seem accepting of the fact Mehmet wasn’t much of a drinker, or the fact that he doesn’t go on holiday very often. The pair were struggling to find a common connection, but Sophie certainly wasn’t helping on that front, but Mehmet put that down to being really guarded.

Sophie admits she has been hurt in the past, and has hardened because of that. However, she wasn’t looking to waste her time on just anyone, but it was clear there wasn’t that mutual connection. Sophie wanted a bad boy, and she even skipped dessert to opt for a McDonalds instead.

It was no surprise Sophie wasn’t up for a second date, Mehmet couldn’t even persuade her to hug it out to soften the below. I think he had a lucky escape!

The First Dates Hotel

That’s it from this series of First Dates but there’s a whole new series starting on Monday 2 January 2017. The First Dates Hotel will be First Dates with a bit of a twist. I’ll be tweeting along on Tuesday evening so please join me by following @jonoread but my reviews won’t be back until the original series returns. However in the meantime watch more First Dates on catch-up on All4, and read more reviews of this series of First Dates on my blog.

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Written by Jono Read
Jono Read is a 30 year old writer from Norfolk. He is a social media manager and a digital campaigner. He blogs about politics, popular culture, and marketing.