Star was like a fun auntie, says Blind Date's Grainne from Northern Ireland
As the nation mourns Cilla Black, a woman from Northern Ireland recalled her own Blind Date experience with the beloved TV entertainer.
Now a public relations executive, back in 2002 Grainne McGarvey was a masters student looking to experience how a top TV show was put together.
"I was doing a masters in media studies and wanted to know what it was like behind the scenes on a TV programme," Grainne told the Belfast Telegraph.
"So I auditioned and was Number Three... Grainne from Belfast."
The 33-year-old remembers the veteran TV star, who was found dead at her Spanish holiday home on Sunday, was as endearing off screen as she was on.
"Cilla was great, definitely the exact same person you see on the screen, sadly I didn't get any photos with her," recalled the Pulse PR boss. "She was very accommodating and would have a talk with you in the downtime, but as soon as the camera came on she was professional."
Grainne added: "Cilla was personable as well, she was like a family member, the good fun auntie you would go out with."
However, Grainne soon discovered the hugely popular show wasn't the seemingly spontaneous matchmaking service that millions tuned into every week.
"You go through the questions with the producers and researchers to work out your answers and then you get two runs at it before they bring the live studio audience in," she explained.
"The guy, Crispin, got rid of number one and two but thankfully kept me - it could have been pretty grim," she joked.
But Cupid's arrow missed its mark when the pair were whisked off for a supposedly romantic getaway on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
"After the show you go out for dinner and you do have a wee bit of a connection, then you're away with the producer, researchers and cameraman on an organised trip.
"I really enjoyed the experience, I had a lovely trip to Madeira, but we just didn't really click. To be honest, I never thought I was going to get picked."
However, Blind Date didn't end there, as the pair had to go through the public debriefing back in the studio to tell Cilla all about the would-be romantic weekend.
"When we came back Cilla was really nice to Crispin, because I wasn't particularly nice to him on camera and then everybody booed," laughed Grainne.
"It was all good fun, but I would never do it again. Things like Take Me Out are a completely different format. Blind Date had no real innuendos, it was just good clean fun."