Blind Date couple from Walsall still together 25 years on

When Sue Middleton became the first Blind Date bride in 1991, the streets of Pelsall ground to a standstill.

Cilla Black turned up in her now-famous floppy hat, and police had to erect crash barriers to cope with the 3,000 well-wishers who turned out.

It is now 25 years since Sue met her husband Alex Tatham on the hit dating show which pulled in 18 million viewers in its heyday.

Sue, a former pupil at Aldridge Comprehensive School, was a nervous 22-year-old when she appeared on the show in 1988.

“I was persuaded to audition by some friends, it was just a bit of fun really, I suppose I just wanted to see how a television programme was made,” she says.

“There were two auditions, the first one was in a big hotel in Birmingham, and I think there were hundreds of other people there.”

She remembers that programme staff were at great pains to point out that only a handful of the people who attended were likely to end up on the show, and once she left the interview she thought little more about it.

When she was called for a second interview in London, she remembers there were far fewer candidates there, but she was still surprised when she was picked to appear on the show.

“It was exciting but very nerve-wracking, I had never done anything like it before,” she says.

Sue, who was working as a clerical officer at the Walsall DHSS office in Lower Hall Lane at the time, remembers giving some witty answers to Alex’s questions, and couldn’t believe it when she was picked over the girls sat either side of her, ‘No. 1, Lyn from Middlesex’ and ‘No. 3, Kate from Essex.’

“We went to a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle in County Clare, or County Clurre as Cilla would say, and it was all lovely.

“We were chaperoned all the way, and we even stayed in different hotels.”

When the couple finally tied the knot at St Michael and All Angel’s Church in October, 1991, it was big news, with Cilla and her husband Bobby as guests of honour, with the whole ceremony being filmed for a special edition of the programme.

“Until then, Cilla hadn’t had any success stories, so everyone went mad,” says Alex, now 48.

Sue, who also worked as a recruitment consultant at Pertemps in West Bromwich before moving to London with Alex, remembers her wedding day as being a wonderful experience, and says the TV presence did nothing to detract from the dignity of the occasion.

“We had a fantastic crew, and they were all wearing morning suits, they really were a part of it.”

The couple now live in south London with their daughter Emily, aged 18, and son Charlie, 16, but Sue’s mother Barbara still lives in the Walsall area.

Sue, now 47, says few people remember them now as the first couple to get married from Blind Date, although from time to time they get approached for interviews.

Last month they were interviewed by ITV for Cilla’s 50 Years in Showbiz celebration.

“It’s been 22 years since we got married, and we don’t see many of the people who were at the wedding that often,” she says.

The couple still see Cilla when they attend the Henley Festival every year.

“Alex, who’s more extrovert than me, goes up to her and goes ‘Hello Cilla’, and I’m sure she remembers us,” says Sue.

“But you have to remember that to her it was just business, although she was very good the way she went about it.”

Some years after they got married, Alex actually bumped into one of the girls he had rejected at a New Year’s Eve party in pub.

He remembers being a little startled when a girl dressed up as a rabbit hopped up to him and introduced herself.

“Of course I had no idea who it was until the human head under the outfit revealed itself to be Kate from Essex.

“She was nice, and if I’d picked her we’d have got on very well.”

There were only two other further Blind Date weddings before the show was dropped in 2003.

Pensioners David and Lillian Fensom married in February 1994, and then five years later it was the turn of Anna Azonwanna and Paul Pratt.

Sue says there are still some amusing moments when people ask how we met.

“Sometimes you will be at a dinner party and people will make smalltalk, but what can you say?

“It’s very funny, they don’t believe me when I tell them.”

But while Sue has no regrets about her appearance on Blind Date, she would never consider going on today’s equivalent, the more risque Take Me Out.

“I can’t even watch shows like that, they’re grim,” she says.

“I find them so embarrassing and tacky.”

But 25 years on, Sue is thankful to the friends who egged her on to enjoy her 15 minutes of fame.

“I’m glad they persuaded me to go on.”