TORONTO – “Oh So Cosmo” TV host Wilder Weir says he doesn’t consider himself suave and has never tried online or speed dating, so when he went looking for love on the new series “Come Date With Me,” it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of his life.
Good thing he had a friend who was well-versed in dating in front of cameras and could offer him advice.
“I grew up with Brad Smith, who (starred on) ‘The Bachelor Canada,’ so I was on the phone with him through that whole experience, and this was kind of like a mini ‘Bachelor’ in a way,” Weir, 29, said in a recent telephone interview from his Toronto home.
“I was telling him, ‘Dude, I’m not envious of you at all.’ … He just said, ‘Be yourself and be respectful and try and not be aware of the cameras, just try to be as natural as possible.’
“And he said, ‘Good luck,’ because I was single and he’s marrying the girl that he met on that show!”
A spinoff of “Come Dine With Me Canada,” the comical series sees four eligible suitors trying to woo one singleton in each episode, through one-on-one dates and dinner parties attended by all the contestants, mostly in Toronto. The show airs Wednesdays on W Network starting Feb. 20.
Dates throughout the series include sausage-making, laughing yoga, Segway riding, circus school and a striptease lesson.
The singleton rates each date and dinner party on a scale of one to 10 and can retroactively adjust the score, depending how the suitors behave over the week.
The potential mate with the highest score at the end of the week wins $1,000 to go on a “dream date” with the singleton.
“We tell them it’s not the ‘B’ word — it’s not ‘The Bachelor,’” said Amy Hosking, the show’s executive producer and writer. “We’re not saying in five dates you’re going to find the one, you’re going to get married, you have to propose or anything like that.
“We also say it’s not like other dating shows that you’ve seen in the past, you don’t have to hook up with a person in a hot tub…. It’s more the middle ground of both those extremes.”
That doesn’t mean contestants don’t take the experience seriously.
Hosking said some of the singletons were upset over breaking hopefuls’ hearts and shed tears before announcing the winner.
Weir, whose episode airs March 20, said he also had a hard time eliminating potential mates.
“I’m always so bad at breaking up with people. I try and avoid breaking up with people like the plague,” said Weir, who’d been single for about three years before signing on to the show on the network’s suggestion.
“So when I was forced to do eliminations, that was definitely the toughest part, but I tried to be as respectful as I could.”
Did any of the contestants cry when he snipped them?
“You’re going to have to watch. It’s good TV, I’ll tell you that,” Weir said with a laugh.
Weir hosted his dinner in his condo and got his chef friends to help plan his menu.
“I’m definitely not a good cook, so you can imagine how my dinner went,” he confessed.
As is the case with “Come Dine With Me,” each dinner party also sees guests snooping around the host’s home for anything gossip-worthy.
“There were definitely a few eye-raisers, and when I saw what the girls had found snooping around my place, I was like, ‘Oh God, that’s embarrassing,’” said Weir.
Of course, Weir couldn’t say whether he made a love connection on the show but did reveal, “They picked some amazing girls, so there was definitely immediate chemistry.”
“It was great,” he added. “I mean, what’s not to love? Four successful, good-looking girls vying for my attention. It was a really interesting week, for sure. I’ll never forget it.”
Hosking revealed that two “sleepovers” resulted from the tapings and that there was one couple who did make a connection, although she’s not sure if they’re still together.
Other love-seekers on the series include former “Come Dine With Me” contestant Cathy Habus, and Craig McKinnon, who was known as the villain on “The Bachelorette.”
“Craig was an interesting one because he came on saying, ‘On “The Bachelorette” they painted me as a villain and that’s not who I am and I’m really looking for love and I’m serious and I want to redeem myself,’” said Hosking.
“But he didn’t redeem himself. In all of these shows, you can only fool the camera for so long, and after five days we’re going to catch on to ya.”