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TV eight are a dream date

Date: 2007-01-12

LOVE is in the air in Ross-shire this weekend with the start of a new TV dating show featuring eight local women all seeking Mr Right.

Eight bachelors from Chumleigh in rural Devon travel 700 miles north to Gairloch in Wester Ross to see if they will find love among eight single women as part of the BBC’s newest reality series When Love Comes To Town.

A shy 31-year-old primary teacher from Gairloch, a divorced social worker from Nigg in Easter Ross and an occupational therapist from Fortrose who has previously tried placing personal ads and speed dating, are among those who will try to find that special someone in the series.

Helped by two larger-than-life matchmakers from Gairloch and Chumleigh, the romantically-rusty men and women embark on a rollercoaster of dates and group events, in both the Highlands and Devon.

The first of the eight-part series, which starts on BBC1 on Sunday at 5.10pm, sees a lively welcome ceilidh in Gairloch during which the matchmakers help break the ice and keep an eye out for any initial sparks of attraction.

Later the ladies go on their first dates with their chosen beaus.

But it all proves too much for one woman as she finds herself in floods of tears with pre-date nerves before her chap arrives for their lobster fishing trip.

One of those who took part, 39-year-old community care assessor Vanessa Adams from Nigg, said she took the plunge and applied to the BBC after being teased by colleagues at work.

“It wasn’t really anything to do with desperately wanting to find a man,” said Vanessa who was briefly married to a Cuban man she met on holiday five years ago.

“I just decided to apply because I was feeling in the doldrums at the time and thought I didn’t have anything to look forward to. But what an experience! I loved every moment of it. I always thought I was not a particularly hardy type and I like to keep my nails painted, but there I was kayaking on the wild north coast. I didn’t find love but I found a super friend in Stewart, one of the guys. I’ve been down to stay with him several times in Devon and he’ll definitely be one of my best buddies.”

Thirty-one-year Rachel Oxley, a primary school teacher at Inverasdale near Gairloch, admitted she almost fled the audition with stage fright. And she said: “The reason I’m single is because I’m too scared to talk to people I’m attracted to – I just go bright red and get tongued-tied.”

But in the series she hit it off with 31-year-old mechanic, Mike, and soon the couple were singing songs as they pedalled along the Highland roads on a tandem.

They have now been seeing each other for six months, despite the 700 miles between them, but she admits she still has difficulty explaining to people how they met.

Other local ladies taking part are the matchmaker, Frances Wade (56) from Gairloch; Jane Middleton from Ardross; Barbara Manson from Fortrose, music teacher Beth Hunter from Gairloch; Suzanne Laing from Gairloch; hairdresser Janet Redfearn from Gairloch; as well as Ailidh Morrison from Glenfinnan.

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