Ever thought about going on First Dates?
On one level, it appeals to our best instincts. Deep down, we all enjoy happy, loved-up endings, and it can be encouraging to see the show's contestants, many of whom are portrayed as hopelessly lovelorn, forge real connections.
For some, the show has even led to wedding bells: Adam Stewart and Dan Muncaster-Ross, who met on the programme in 2015, have been together ever since their "first date" and, last we heard, were planning a wedding for early 2019.
That said, First Dates can also appeal to our less generous emotions. Who doesn't like gawping at mismatched couples as they vainly struggle to find something in common, or watching in gleeful fascination as conversations become progressively more stilted? (Yes, the show ostensibly does it best to pair people up based on shared tastes - more on that later - but it doesn't always get things right.)
Most painful of all are the encounters in which one dater admits to being quite keen on seeing their dinner partner again, while the other confesses a complete lack of interest.
But how exactly does the show pair its couples up in the first place? And what's it really like to take part in a televised blind date?
We caught up with some past contestants to find out what goes on behind the scenes.
Get ready for a boat load of questions
Your first step is to fill out an online application form. But be warned: if your application manages to catch the eye of one of the show's researchers, that's only the beginning.
"For my application I sent a photo and a video of me, doing a presenting thing at university," says Joel, who appeared in an episode of the show that was filmed in September 2015 and first broadcast in the December of that year.
"My bio was just who I was and what I'd been doing. I was really honest about my background: about never really having had a long-term relationship before, but obviously wanting one.
"A month later I got a 45 minute phone call, about myself, what I was looking for, what I liked and didn't like. I told them all about my history. And then I was invited for an initial kind of screening, which was just on the camera, answering very similar questions.
"And about a month and a half after that, they said 'We've matched you with someone, and can you do these dates, and this time?'
It takes a lot of time
"You have to do a pre-date interview, in the room with the heart behind it. That's the one they show on TV. The one you film on camera before that, they claim they use that as the benchmark, to discuss and work out why you [and your eventual date] would be good matches for each other."
Amelia Murray, a Telegraph journalist who appeared on First Dates in November 2015, also warns that, if you're interested in appearing on the show, it's definitely worth factoring in the time commitment.
"It's quite an investment," she says. "You have your initial phone interview, during which they ask for a bit of background and suss out if you're interesting or not. And then they invite you for what they call an audition. It's kind of like a mock up of the interviews [that they show in the programme]. And then you go in again, for the actual interview, the one they use, and then you go on the date. So if you're working full time, that is a lot of time."
Big Brother is watching your every move
"I don't really get that phased by the cameras, so that was all right," Joel explains. "But they're there. They're little tiny spheres, about seven or eight inches across, and they are around the whole room. There's about 20 or 30 of them. So at any one time you probably have three to six cameras on you, but you can't see where they're facing."
You may not like what you see on screen
Both Joel and Amelia say that, while they were aware that their dates would be edited, they didn't initially think about quite how this would work.
"After the date I realised they summarise an entire hour and a half date, and the hour-long interview beforehand, into about eight minutes," says Joel. "I knew they would have to heavily edit it, so I was nervous about what they would show me as, and I had a feeling they would show me as a young, preppy city person, which is kind of fair.
"Ultimately, everything that they showed, I did say. But a lot of the context was taken out of it.
My personal favourite moment was when they said 'Do you have any doppelgangers?' and I said 'Not really.' And they said 'What about Prince William?' and I said "I don't think I have a Prince William look.' And they used 'I have a Prince William look'."
The good news, Joel adds, is that he was told in advance what his edit would look like.
"They give you a call a few days in advance saying 'This is what we're going to show of you, this is the rundown of all the things, how you'll be portrayed, this is your scene'. They talk it through with you, and then you see it. So from that I sort of knew what kind of angle they were going for with me."
The matching process is...questionable
Amelia, who decided not to watch her episode through, but learned about it from friends and family, says that she feels she was perhaps pushed into a box by the show's producers, who wanted to portray her as one half of a 'hipster couple'. (Looking at her date, it's difficult to disagree.)
"It does kind of feel that they have decided what character they're going to make you beforehand, or during the process," she explains.
"I think that's what annoyed me: why ask me about my views on immigration, or my views on politics, if you've basically decided I'm going to be 'the hipster'? It doesn't matter what your say, or what your views are, or how intelligent you are: they've basically made a snap judgement about you on your appearance. They make you into a character, and it's two-dimensional.
When the guy walked in, I was a bit like 'Oh...I see what they've done here'. It made me determined not to play the part, which was difficult from a visual perspective - I was wearing a bright dress; I've got curly hair..."
Ultimately, Amelia says, it was frustrating to realise that, no matter how much the programme makers might talk about love, the need to make "good TV" is also always going to be a consideration.
"I never went on the show to find love: it's an experience," she says. "But the whole time they keep telling you 'we're working really hard to find your perfect match'. They keep using the 'perfect match' language, which they really push - and then in retrospect you realise it wasn't about that.
"They do all this research, and ask you what you want - and then it feels like they just threw all their notes in the bin."
Don't believe everything you see or hear
"You have self control, but you have no control over what they're going to do. Before your episode airs, they call to talk you through the edits. And you know it's all you, it's everything you've said - but they also have to explain the narrative they've created," says Amelia.
As an example. she points to a moment when, towards the end of her date (which was not romantically successful), she decided to see if her dining partner Josh fancied getting a few drinks away from the cameras.
"It was 9.30 on a Saturday night and we'd just had this weird experience together," she explains. But they cut it so it looked like I was begging him for another drink. They turned me into this tragic figure."
Prepare to become low-key famous
"I didn't realise how many people watched the programme and it is really strange, having people comment on something you were in that you never saw," says Amelia. "At Notting Hill Carnival, my friends and I put a bet on it, and I think 12 people came up to me.
"Everyone is totally cool, and so sweet and so kind. No one has been aggressive, or in your face. But when you're not feeling great, or you've just left your house and there's a teenage girl and she's like 'Oh my god! Can I get a selfie?'..."
"I now say: 'It's lovely to meet you, but I'm not going to have a photo with you I'm afraid, sorry.'
"You kind of feel like you've suddenly been put on the spot, and you've got to perform, because people have seen you as a character on TV. They're expecting you to be the same, or be better, or just be something, when actually you're just a normal person."
Both Joel and Amelia also say that it's worth remembering that your appearance on the show won't just be a once-off: thanks to on-demand TV and re-runs, people will continue to recognise your for years after your episode first airs.
All the other couples you see in the restaurant are also part of the show
While the Paternoster Chop House, the London-based establishment where the show is filmed, is a real, working restaurant, the eatery is cleared out to allow the First Dates filming to take place, and popular Maître d' Fred Sirieix and the serving team are brought in as part of the show.
Earlier this year, it was also reported that First Dates was advertising for "background couples", offering applicants £25 towards a meal at the Paternoster in return for their services as extras.
In years past, however, the other diners you see on the programme have also all been blind daters - with the programme-makers selecting them from the pool of hopeful applicants.
"There were the main people who are going to be on TV, and they were mic'd up, and there were cameras everywhere. But I wasn't mic'd up, so I knew on the day that I wasn't going to be one of the main ones," explains Steve, who appeared on the show as a "background dater" in one of the early series.
But despite the fact that he wasn't shown on TV (other than as an extra), Steve, and his fellow extras, still all took part in a blind date.
"It was quite funny, because I'd never been on a blind date before, but beforehand we were sent to a holding area: all the men in one room, and the girls in the other."
The good things about this approach, he says, is that being in the same boat as everyone else was actually quite calming: "If it'd been a normal first date I'd probably have been more nervous."
Like Amelia and Joel, Steve was also asked advance about what kind of person he'd like to date - and feels like the programme-makers at least made a stab at getting it right.
"I said I like blondes, and I like accents," he says. "And I got paired with a Geordie brunette, so..."