No kissing or hugging on new series of First Dates

There will be no hugging or kissing allowed between participants on the set of the upcoming series of First Dates Ireland in response to Covid 19.

That is according to chief executive of Coco Content, Stuart Switzer whose company produces the format series for RTE.

Couples who find romance on the show often share a kiss or a hug on camera after their date but as Mr Switzer said on Thursday:

“They can blow each other kisses but no kisses or hugs on our watch due to social distancing. They must and we must abide by all of the protocols. That is an absolute.

“Any contact is out. It is challenging but everyone is beginning to realise it is the only way we can work.

"We will have a Safety Officer on board for the show who will make sure everyone is abiding by the rules. If they don’t, they are off the set - for obvious reasons.”

He also said that the protocols they have put in place themselves are more "stringent" than what the HSE has.

The number of applicants for the 12 one hour episodes of the new series of First Dates “is about the same as last year which is terrific” according to Mr Switzer.

Independent Productions

Mr Switzer made his comment as a new report, the RTE Independent Productions Annual Report shows that Coco Content was one of the big winners in the €40m that was paid by independent productions last year in terms of hours produced for the broadcaster.

Coco Content also produces Home Rescue and Dermot Bannon’s ‘Room to Improve’.

Other companies to feature prominently in the report include Shinawil for Dancing with the Stars and Vision Independent Productions for Operation Transformation.

Mr Switzer stated: That €40m spend would be vital to the industry and that €40m turns into at least €100m by the time we leverage co-productions and Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and tax funding.