A woman has given birth to the first ever Dinner Dates baby – despite telling her family that her now-hubby was “the best of a bad bunch” on the TV show.
The hit ITV programme sees single men or women pick three blind dates based on menus put together by hopeful singles who cook for them in their own home.
Jemma Simpson, now 33, took part in the TV dating show “for a laugh” and picked to go on three blind dates – including one with fireman Edd Rodgers, now 37.
He won over Jemma thanks to his pudding of deep fried chocolate bar – but the make up artist jokingly told her family he was just the “best of a bad bunch”.
But seven years on the happy couple are still going strong and have welcomed baby Ember, into the family – the first baby born to a couple who met on the popular show.
Mum-of-one Jemma – also one half of the first and only ‘Dinner Date’ marriage – said: “I never thought that I would pick my future husband – and father of my daughter – from a menu.
“I basically owe it to the fact that I chose his menu over others – even though I don’t even like curry which he had as his main course.
“When we tell people how we met they don’t believe us.”
Edd added: “You never go on one of those shows thinking ‘oh I’m going to find someone forever’ let alone your wife – and the mother of your child. I didn’t think that for a second.
“If it wasn’t for being randomly matched on a TV dating show then we never would have met.
“If it wasn’t for First Dates we would never have our lovely little daughter and we can’t imagine life without her now.”
Jemma applied to go on the ITV dating show in 2010 after having a blast on the first series of dating show Take Me Out – but failing to find love.
Like Edd, who had just missed out on applying for the show, she just “fancied a laugh” and had zero expectations about meeting the love of her life.
He said: “I thought it would be something a bit unusual for my mates to laugh at me about when I came last.”
After being presented five menus at her home in Birmingham, Jemma picked Edd’s offering of figs in parma ham, followed by Thai curry.
But it was his pudding – fried chocolate wrapped in filo pastry – that clinched the deal, and she went on her first date with him – accompanied by a TV crew.
Jemma said: “I saw the advert that asked ‘are you single and do you like food?’ and I was like ‘yes and yes’ so I applied for a bit of fun.
“I certainly did not thing in a millions years I would meet someone to build a relationship with – let alone get married and have a baby!
“I just did it to have the experience of being on TV for a bit of fun.
“It was really good fun but it was nerve racking – the pressure of going to three strangers houses for dinner by myself.”
Edd – her second of three dates that week on the show – impressed with a rendition of a Take That song on his guitar and she picked him for a second date.
“It was a bit odd because he didn’t have a dining room so had to stick a table in the middle of his lounge,” said Jemma, who works as an eyebrow microblader.
The shows see the ‘winner’ asked on a second date as a restaurant – while the two losers get a ready meal delivered to their door.
The pair went out for a fancy dinner at a posh restaurant in his home town of Leicester, before sharing a cheeky kiss when the cameras disappeared.
Both admitted that it wasn’t love at first sight – but they exchanged number and became close in the six months after their date.
“We had a really good time and went for a few drinks and I got a taxi home and he added me on Facebook,” she said.
They dated long distance before moving in together in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, eight months after their first date.
He proposed in 2012 – the day before he was on TV winning £18,000 on Deal of No Deal – and they got married the following year in front of 120 friends and family.
Their photos of their TV appearances appeared around the reception room and Jemma’s dad mentioned it in his speech.
“My dad claims when he spoke to me after it to ask how it went on Dinner Date he asked me ‘how did it go?’ and I said to him the guy I picked was ‘the best of a bad bunch’,” said Jemma.
“So he joked and said ‘So today congratulations on marrying the best of a bad bunch’.”
After three years of trying to fall pregnant naturally, the pair had IVF privately, paying £7,000, to conceive Ember.
She was born weighing 5lb 8oz on November 3, 2016.
They called her Ember because of Edd’s job and she was born near Bonfire Night.
Edd said: “You don’t imagine that meeting someone random on a TV show will plan the rest of your life out.
“I had spent all those years trying to find a partner for myself and failing. And it turns out ITV did it for me.
“It seems they are a better judge of people and me than I am.
Jemma added: “You’ll be pleased to know he’s still a good cook.”