Here’s a fact about me: I love a dating show, there ain’t no ifs or buts about it. Unless of course it’s Naked Attraction, in which case there are many butts about it.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching them, it’s that people are absolutely desperate to go on them - there’s a never-ending queue of hopefuls pining for love, all wide-eyed and optimistic, fingers crossed they’ll meet ‘the one’.
But which dating show gives you the greatest chance of actually embracing the one thing we all want in this world: true love?
To find out, I looked at the most popular UK dating shows that are currently on, or at least between series, but not included any seasons of a show that are currently airing or have just finished, as it’s a bit too early to tell with the relationships in those ones. And for the most part, the figures are calculated estimates (for example, I’ve assumed you see four dates per episode on First Dates, which is standard for the show).
Here are the results - you can thank me later, at your wedding, which I am invited to now:
Should you go on: Celebs Go Dating?
127 people dating across three series (not including the last one)
No lasting couples
0% chance of finding true love
No, you should not go on Celebs Go Dating, because the show is inherently flawed. Celebrities do not want to get into relationships with normal people. They do not want to have a date in a Wetherspoon’s “as a treat”, they do not want to sleep in a grotty bed that has a Pringles tube somehow stuck under the covers. They want fancy hotels, they want expensive trips around the world and they want Kettle Chips, not Pringles.
There have been three seasons of Celebs Go Dating (not including the one that’s just finished) and if we’re looking at lasting relationships, it’s pretty bleak. If we ignore the short-lived romance between Joey Essex and Stephanie Pratt (they were both celebrities, which isn’t of much help to you), then all we’ve really got is Calum Best and a fitness model called Victoria Winterford. It seemed to last for a bit, but no idea what’s going on with that now. I’m pretty sure it’s not time to buy a hat.
Don’t go on Celebs Go Dating if you’re looking for anything meaningful, basically. However, if you just want to meet a famous person, maybe see their whoopsies, get ghosted, have a bit of a cry, and get called a ‘tosser’ on Twitter, then here’s my advice: onwards!
Should you go on: Married at First Sight?
14 people dating (well, getting married) across two series (not including the current one)
No lasting couples
0% chance of finding true love
Again, no, you should not go on Married at First Sight, simply because of its actual premise: scientifically matching people is not a thing, getting married the first time you meet someone is not a thing, this programme is not a thing.
Marriage is a massive commitment, not one you bang out the very second you meet someone you’ve never met before.
“Hello, sort of nice to meet you, you are my husband now, gutted.”
This programme is haywire, and doesn’t really work as a way to set up future couples.
Of course, despite all of this, I am in love with it and everything it is about.
Should you go on: Dinner Date?
1275 people dating across ten series
Three lasting couples
0.5% chance of finding true love
You should definitely go on Dinner Date, because you might get three free meals out of it, and that’s worth it in any book. However, if you want to get yersel’ married, then it’s probably not the best idea, seeing as I can only recall one episode where the following doesn’t happen:
“Barry and Kate swapped numbers…
“But didn’t see each other again”
However, my research has found that yes, there has actually been a Dinner Date marriage and its spin-off, a Dinner Date baby.
I discovered a total of two other couples still together, so that’s at least six people all loved up as a result of this show. But statistically speaking, that’s not great, is it?
As such, if you want your white picket fence and 2.4 children, then Dinner Date is not the one for you; it is however, if you fancy contracting salmonella at the unwashed hands of a woefully inexperienced cook who has made chicken breasts wrapped in parma ham, the quintessential poisonous Dinner Date dish. RIP.
Should you go on: Naked Attraction?
210 people dating across two series
One lasting couple
1% chance of finding true love
I mean, erm, even if this show came with a 100% guarantee that you would find your soulmate and get married and have kids and then both die at exactly the same time on your 100th birthday, you shouldn’t go on it. To go on this show - which I must say, is one of my favourite things to ever have hit our television screens - you have to ‘get your winky out’. This is the preserve of nightmares, not of cheerful phonecalls to mum and dad informing them that you’re “on the telly tonight”.
On Naked Attraction, everyone is seeing everything that you have in your pants, and then they are judging you for it/them. This is not only terrifying, but also quite detrimental to finding a worthwhile relationship. Only one successful, long-lasting coupling, it seems, from 210 people, has happened on this show, because a girl picked a boy because of his dick.
A common piece of advice for many men is: “Stop thinking with your dick”, but in this case, I think the advice should be: “Stop thinking with someone else’s dick”.
Should you go on: First Dates?
912 people dating across eight series (not including last series of First Dates and First Dates Hotel)
Seven lasting couples
1.5% chance of finding true love
Yes, you should go on First Dates, because it is the best TV show on at the moment, and the greatest dating show of all time. I love it, you love it, everybody loves it, so obviously go on it. However, you need not apply if any of the following apply to you:
1. You are a ‘dickhead’, because you will briefly become a national figure of hate.
2. You are simply in it to get laid, because it’s always really obvious which ones want this, and the editors will make you look like a (see above).
3. You think this is a foolproof way of finding true love.
You see, for all the life-affirming and heart-warming successful dates on this show, it’s a sad fact that many of them don’t lead anywhere. Sure, “Soho, please” said aloud in a taxi by an enthusiastic Essex boy in a three-piece might be exciting and comforting, but what happens after? We’re not privy to anything past the prologue end-titles, and through my research - not to snap your frozen heart into a thousands shards or anything - it’s not exactly match.com.
Still, that’s not to say that it hasn’t worked, which it absolutely has - there’s even a First Dates baby. As such, the potential is there, so it’s still the best thing on the telly, ever.
Should you go on: Take Me Out?
961 people dating across nine series (not including the most recent one)
Eight lasting couples
1.7% chance of finding true love
Before First Dates started, Take Me Out was the best dating show on TV, and as such, is reason enough for wanting to go on it. It’s less humiliating if you’re one of the women, but then you’ve got more chance of getting a date if you’re a bloke - let the swings, see the roundabout. Like, sure, you’re going to have to do one thousand keepy-uppies on stilts just because you mentioned in your application that you like football, but you’ll most likely get a free holiday out of it.
The thing with Take Me Out is that it’s one of the only shows where you’re not stuck on a blind date with someone - you get to know a tiny bit about each other before you date, and if you’ll allow me to get physical for a fleeting second - at the very least, you probably fancy each other.
Of course, your eventual date helpfully concealed the fact that she eats ice cream with a fork, so it’s still gonna go to pot once you get to Fernandos, but here’s another plus: just because your first date didn’t work, it’s not the end of the line. You see, Take Me Out is quite famous for its end of series wrap-parties, and two couples are now married as a result of this. They are now married to people they didn’t go to Fernandos with. There is hope for us all.*
*This is in no way a guarantee
Should you go on: Ex on the Beach?
132 people dating across seven series
Three lasting couples
4.5% chance of finding true love
You have to be a very specific type of person to go on Ex on the Beach, and if you deviate from this template in any way, then chances are you will fail and be unceremoniously booted off the island straight into the jaws of a shark.
Essentially, if you do not have:
1. Lots of tattoos
2. Lots of big muscles
3. Lots of ‘bravado’
4. Lots of “At the end of the day”s
Then you’re getting your goddamn legs snapped off by a great white.
However, if you do possess those qualities, then - and this may come as a surprise to you - you’ve actually got quite a good chance of finding love. The reason for this is that pretty much everybody that goes on this show is the same, and if you don’t love yourself, who are you gonna love?
Extremely like-minded (read: they absolutely fucking love shagging) individuals getting plied with booze in a hot country in a fancy villa - of course people are gonna get together. And against all the odds, it seems that some of them have even stuck it out and are in it for the long run.
Everyone else? They don’t want a relationship, do they? They make that very clear early on when they say “Howay, I’m gonna smash up this house with me turbo cock” or “Shagging’s my middle name, I’ve done so many shags that they should build a- OH NO A SHARK”.
Should you go on: Love Island?
81 people dating across three series
Five lasting couples
12.3% chance of finding true love
So it turns out that Love Island is your best bet. Who’d have thought it, eh? The biggest, most popular dating show on television, the one with the most preening, the most strutting, the most peacocking - that’s the one to go on if you want love?
Well, it seems so, looking at its track record, and also its predilection for forcing couples together. Of course there are showmances, of course there are desperate declarations of love - men and women lying through their perma-white teeth just to stay on a free holiday. But much like Ex on the Beach, you’ve got to be a certain brand of fame-chaser to want to go on this, so you’re going to find a lot of other people with a lot in common with ya. You all want to be famous, you all want to have flawless bodies, and you all want to bang each other into next week.
Of course, Love Island is extremely hard to get on - the upcoming 2018 series had 80,000 applicants in the first week - so this only applies if you actually make it to the show. But once in the villa, you’re onto a winner. Even if you don’t end up with a fellow cast member, you’ve got a great chance of finding an ancillary partner by virtue of being thrust into a very particular club scene populated with other attractive and single reality stars.
Providing you don’t crash out early, you’re going to get famous if you go on Love Island - and that’s going to increase your potential love-pool a thousand-fold. It’s a good bet all round, basically. And you don’t even have to get your winky out.
(Images: ITV/Channel 4/MTV/Rex)