Entertainment & Arts

Blind Date couple remember 'fairy godmother'

Alex and Sue Tatham on Blind Date Image copyright ITV / Rex Features
Image caption The couple met in 1988 and tied the knot three years later

Alex and Sue Tatham were the first couple to meet and get married on Cilla Black's dating show Blind Date.

Twenty-four years later, they are still together - with two children - after tying the knot in front of a TV audience of 18 million.

The couple talked to the BBC about their experience on the show, and their memories of their televisual "fairy godmother".

The couple auditioned for Blind Date in 1988 and ended up at the same recording, where Alex had to choose between three potential dates.

Sue: I was completely nervous and very jittery. But Cilla made everyone feel at their ease.

Alex: Blind Date was very much Cilla's show and she was extremely professional. She had an extraordinary grip on the whole programme. Anyone who showed off too much, she'd put them down. She ruled that show.

Sue: I volunteered particularly to see how a TV show was made. I didn't actually go on it to meet a husband.

Alex: I was an accountant at the time and I remember one of my questions to Sue was: "I'm an accountant because of my passion for figures. What aspect of accountancy most interests you?"

Sue: My answer was: "Maybe we should go into business together." You can see it was a good start.

Alex: Cilla got very involved in the pairing of the people on the show. So much so, that when I had some professional exams clashing with the original date I was due to be on, they moved Sue to make sure she was matched with me.

Sue: We were destined to meet. We have a lot to thank her for.

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Media captionBlind Date couple Alex and Sue Tatham describe Cilla Black as their "fairy godmother"

After Alex picked "Sue number two from the West Midlands", the couple were sent on a date to a medieval banquet in County Clare, Ireland. But their relationship was a slow-burner.

Sue: Who can say they have, on TV, the first moment they met their partner? We're very lucky to have that.

Alex: That's an extraordinary thing to be able to show your children.

Sue: It's such a surreal way to meet. We didn't quite know where it would take us. We thoroughly enjoyed our date and made a pact right at the beginning that we would get on with each other - because I know some couples came back and said horrible things.

Alex: We were living a long way away from each other at that stage. Sue lived in the West Midlands and I lived in London.

Sue: We're sensible people and we wouldn't have pursued it if we didn't have any feelings for each other. But Cilla constantly asked us: "Do I hear wedding bells?" Three years later, we thought we might save ourselves some money on train fares and actually get married.

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption The wedding was broadcast on ITV a day after it took place, with 18m tuning in to see the nuptials

When the couple finally tied the knot at St Michael and All Angel's Church in October, 1991, the whole nation was watching.

Sue: Cilla and Bobby were at our wedding, which was just gorgeous. We were thrilled to have them there, as they were instrumental in our meeting.

Alex: We were the first couple to get married on Blind Date. There have been two others since.

Sue: Cilla bought a hat. A beautiful hat.

Alex: And what a hat! It was an extraordinary Philip Treacy number. It looked more like a tea cosy than a hat.

Sue: "Soup terrine," it was labelled. But it was all part of the charm.

Alex: She lent it to a charity and it's been stolen, apparently.

Sue: She was just lovely. It was my wedding, my special day and while she was there, she didn't take the limelight away from me at all. She was just a normal guest - ok, she was uber-famous, but she didn't detract from my special day. She was part of the family by then.

After the wedding, Cilla stayed in touch with the couple.

Alex: I think she was very proud of us. We had a long and successful marriage with two children, Emily and Charlie. It's an absolutely wonderful thing to have done. She always kept in touch and always said, "How's it going? How are the children? What are they up to these days?"

Sue: She was glorious. So natural and so lovely to get on with. We'll always remember her with great affection.

Alex: I feel a star has gone out today. She was part of our lives for 28 years. It's extraordinary to think she's not going to be here any more.

Sue: We would never have met if it wasn't for her.

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