TV

Is First Dates real or fake? A former contestant reveals the dating show's surprising behind-the-scenes secrets

''They basically just chuck you in a room.''

By Alana Mazzoni
Compared to the controversial behemoth that is Married At First Sight or the high-budget production of The Bachelor, Channel Seven's First Dates may seem like nothing more than an effortless, no-frills dating show.
But a contestant on First Dates' 2022 season says this assumption couldn't be further from the truth.
Lincoln Alexander, who's coincidentally also appeared on MAFS as Natasha Spencer's best man, has given a rare insight into what actually goes into filming the fly-on-the-wall dating series.
Lincoln was matched with Jacob, and the pair hit it off. (Image: Seven)
Despite being a quick program that only airs about 10 minutes of each date per episode, Lincoln says the filming process was surprisingly arduous.
"It was over two days of filming. The first day of filming was for the backstory and walking shots of you before you walk to the restaurant," he exclusively tells Now To Love.
Lincoln and his fellow co-stars, of course all separated from their dates, were then taken to the Skye Suites in Sydney's CBD - ironically where MAFS contestants live for the duration of their filming.
"But because it's such a high rotation of people on the show, they basically just chuck you in a room until they need you with a few other people that are going to be on the show. It's a lot of waiting around," Lincoln says.
Lincoln says he got to know his fellow contestants very well while "waiting around" for his date to be filmed. (Image: Supplied)
"I was with a lot of other people who were going to be on the show and we were all chatting and getting along, it was really good banter.
"There's producers everywhere and drivers and assistants, so one of the runners takes you and a few other people outside the restaurant] and they filmed us walking up and down."
Lincoln says that prior to going on the actual date, the crew filmed him "walking up and down" the street outside the restaurant, which is located in the inner Sydney suburb of Waterloo.
"The second day of filming was the date. So you have to rock up at a certain time, but obviously you don't meet your date straight away," Lincoln says.
The 27-year-old says that during the second day of production, contestants film their pre-date interview where they introduce themselves to the camera and reveal what they're looking for in an ideal partner.
"You have to wear exactly the same outfit on both days, you have to have your hair the same for continuity," he says.
While producers give the illusion that the dates take place at night, contestants actually meet up with their suitors at the restaurant at just 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
The 27-year-old hairdresser spend two long days filming for the show. (Image: Instagram)
"It was a legit restaurant but they moved everything around so it was set-worthy," he says.
"A lot of the cameras were hidden in plain sight and slightly camouflaged. There's not massive tripod cameras where there's microphones hanging over your head. It's a lot more subtle."
The Sydney hairdresser says he was chauffeured to the date in a car with another contestant, whose rendezvous was filmed simultaneously in two separate parts of the restaurant.
"Once you finish your date with the person you walk out with them and then producers split you up immediately," he says.
Cheers to a successful first date! (Image: Seven)
After arriving back at the Skye Suites, Lincoln was put into a room where he was interviewed on camera about how his date went.
"Once you do your post-date stuff separately, then you can be put into a room with who you went on a date with," he says.
"There was one or two other couples in the room and we were waiting for four hours and then they drove us back to the restaurant where we did our leaving filming."
This is where Lincoln and his date Jacob were filmed walking out of the restaurant, giving the allusion they had only just finished their dinner, despite being over four hours after leaving.
SHAREPIN
  • undefined: Alana Mazzoni