Louisa Griffith-Jones went on Channel 4’s First Dates “as a dare”. Little did she know that she would immediately overtake Cheryl Fernandez- Versini to become the nation’s new sweetheart. Not only did she get pride of place on the popular reality show, she was asked back a second time for ‘The Proposal’ special – and they’re still ringing her.
Referred to by The Guardian as ‘Miranda Hart’s kid sister’, she charmed the viewing public with awkward anecdotes and cute quirks. The time when she went to a party dressed as Exeter Cathedral was Buzzfeed’s favourite, the moment when she revealed her Van Gogh-inspired socks was mine. The public responded to her modesty, her self-deprecation, her desire to be nothing but a completely accurate version of herself and what’s more, she was simply excellent TV.
I’M GOING TO HAVE TO WRITE TO THEM… WITH THE WORDS ‘SINGLE AND VERY POOR’
Just your average (well, extremely eccentric) third-year Theology student, Louisa describes her new-found fame as truly “bizarre”. Always fairly undisturbed on nights out, last Friday in Arena she was forced to grant the drunken masses a staggering 20 stranger selfies. “Exeter needs to be cool,” she giggles.
For two episodes, Louisa was self- admittedly the very opposite of ‘cool’, constantly reminding her dates – Will, a Tesco manager and Will, a similarly awks public school boy – of her weirdness. But what was the First Dates process actually like, I wonder. “I was really afraid of the entire experience, but I just went with the flow. My parents were like … umm is this a good idea?! But when else am I going to be on television?”
With the second date going monumentally better than her first, Louisa and Will (number two) bonded over a shared passion for stand-up comedy. However, they did have the added pressure of appearing on ‘The Proposal’ episode: “We were having our dinner and suddenly I was like ‘oh my god I think someone’s being proposed to!’ It’s not actually shown on television but we didn’t know how to respond so we just sang ‘Happy Wedding Day to You.’”
With the impetus of fully fledged First Dates relationships in the same room, are wedding bells already ringing for Louisa and Will Number Two? The last thing we saw of them was a mutual entry into the same taxi – did further dates unfold after the drink? “No, we didn’t actually go for a drink”, Louisa reveals, “it was actually very late, like 3am, nowhere was open.” Commence national sob-fest. Would you ever meet up again, I ask? “He’s a really nice guy but he’s in London and I’m in Exeter. If I ever met him for a drink I think we’d just be like lol remember when we went on First Dates?”
With Will cast to the wayside, there is surely a queue of people at Louisa’s door, loving her just the way she is. Is she ready to embrace the Exeter dating scene? “Yeah maybe,” she says, “I think email is an underrated form of communication. So I might email some people.” I can see it now: ‘Dear human, May I request your company this evening? Yours, Louisa. P.S. Fancy dress costume and gin compulsory.’
Whilst university is nearly at an end for Louisa, her obsession with fancy dress was not sparked by Freshers’ Week. She has forever been a “fancy dress Nazi”, we concur, as she remembers the time she was put in charge of World Book Day costumes in sixth form. She made her fellow students traipse up to the art department to create Mr Men suits: “I said to them, ‘if it’s not made out of cardboard, I’m leaving.’” She also describes her approach to the age-old public school quandary: “Home clothes day. Am I going to wear Jack Wills or am I not going to wear Jack Wills?” Obviously, Louisa decided on the latter and purchased a banana suit to sport on the special day: ”I was 14 and I bought a banana suit for myself, and I wore it on home clothes day.”
Obviously keen to get this level of comedy gold back on our screens, the First Dates production team rang her up AGAIN last week. However, this time she declined their request for a repeat appearance: “I don’t want to appear desperate!”, she laughs. “I was like ‘I’m not going to come back but can I be your runner please?’ I’m definitely going to write to them after I’ve graduated with the words “‘SINGLE AND VERY POOR.’”
I WAS 14 AND I BOUGHT A BANANA SUIT FOR MYSELF, AND I WORE IT ON HOME CLOTHES DAY
However, fear not-Louisa will be back. Inundated with tweets and messages telling her she needs her own show, she’s gone and gotten one. Exeter’s student TV station XTV are collaborating with Louisa to launch a spin-off version of Britain’s best-loved programmes First Dates and The Great British Bake Off, named First Bakes. Set for release in February/March, Louisa will host the show which sets up singles in the kitchen: “They’ll probably have to bake a nine-loaf platter in the shape of Exeter Cathedral, I imagine.”
With other plans to capitalise on her recent fame, Louisa admirably aspires to raise money for charity. She’s already organising an anti-bullying stand-up night and wants to do a sponsored rollerblade across America in the summer – a decision she tells me about nonchalantly, as if everybody does it: “I bought some rollerskates. It was a Sunday night, late-night purchase. I can’t roller-skate. My housemates and I are going to do a trial run from Bordeaux to Toulouse. Then we want to do San Francisco to LA.”
So there you have it – Louisa: Theology student, First Dates queen, fancy-dress Nazi, baking show host, stand-up comedian, amateur roller- skater. One thing’s for sure: Exeter’s definitely got itself a new BNOC.