Interview with Zara McDermott from Love In The Flesh

Zara talks Love In The Flesh

Following her stint on Love Island, Zara joined the cast of Made in Chelsea when she began dating Sam Thompson. Her reality TV days are behind her now though and she works as a TV presenter and documentary maker as well as an Instagram influencer and mo

Zara McDermott and Sam Thompson recently reveald their stunning garden transformation at modern £1million London home after undergoing complete renovations.

Can you tell us a bit about the premise of Love In The Flesh? 

Love In The Flesh is a dating show that is based around five couples who have only ever spoken online – they have connected either on dating apps or social media and the series brings them together for the very first time. Some of the couples have been speaking for years, and some of them just for a few months. The idea is that we bring them together in a peaceful beach house in Greece to meet for the first time – in the flesh. We watch them lock eyes and have their first in-person conversation which is a really magical moment! And then we put them into this beach house for a week and see if these relationships can survive with no distractions of phones or dating apps. It’s a really fun show, but with a powerful meaning behind it as we explore what the landscape of dating looks like in today’s society for young people. 

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You get to be quite involved like with the couples on their journey – how did you find that experience? It must have been emotional at times! 

What I loved the most about the show is the fact that I was able to go into the beach house and check the temperature, check in with the contributors, give a bit of advice and be a shoulder to cry on from time to time. So it was a really immersive experience for me and I was definitely rooting for every single couple in there and wanting everyone to get on! It was an incredible experience to be able to feel so connected to them and ask them the questions that I wanted to ask – I always felt like I was kind of the voice of the viewer in that sense. I felt that I could ask those questions and give that little nugget of advice that one of them might need. It was a really great experience as a presenter to be so immersed in that environment… I became a kind of a friend and a confidante to them. 

Was there anything that you learned or that really surprised you throughout the process? Did it change any of your opinions on dating? 

I think that it made me realise how disposable relationships and online connections can be nowadays, just from hearing the talk around dating apps and things like that. Most of my friends are in relationships, so I don’t get to hear those dating apps stories and how much time young people are spending talking to people on social media or using apps and it opened my eyes quite a lot. I obviously knew people used them but I realised that, actually, a lot of people are glued to them. I think it will surprise a lot of people, especially older generations, that this is how most young people are meeting nowadays. 

Can you tell us a bit about the five starting couples and what kind of scenarios they have found themselves in? 

There are a few couples that have been talking for a while – you’ve got Jess and Kwame who’ve been talking for five years and Chibz and Shazelle who have been speaking for two years, plus others who have been chatting for less than a year. So you’ve got quite a nice variation of people who’ve been speaking for different lengths of times. Among the couples, you’ve got very different stories to watch and to follow as well because they’ve all had different journeys and reasons as to why they haven’t met in person before. Some of them I just couldn’t understand why they hadn’t met before, for example – I think Hannah and Brandon only lived maybe half an hour from each other?

It just shows that that there is such a lack of emphasis on meeting in person because sometimes dating online is actually just easier – it’s more flexible and free. You don’t have to give up too much of your time, you can speak to that person when you want and that person is accessible all the time. We’ve got a really good mix of people on the show, with different sexualities and different backgrounds, and it was lovely to see them all get on as a group – I think they’ve become friends for life. 

What is it that you think is difficult about making the move from digital to in person dating? 

I think that social media means that we have a mask that we can use at any given time. And we can be anyone we want to be. Sometimes that can be problematic, but it also means that as a society we’re so used to channelling our confidence through social media and we spend so much time glued to our phones that I think we have forgotten how to communicate, and we’ve forgotten how to fall in love without that escape. The more people are using that as a mask, the less confident they become in who they actually are. I think – and I’m definitely guilty of it – but we’re all trying to show the best parts of our lives on social media and to constantly be the best version of ourselves. But that may be a very small fragment of who we actually are. So the idea of meeting someone and thinking they’ve got to accept you for all of the things you haven’t shown on social media – that’s scary for a lot of people. 

What do you think has brought these contributors to taking part in the series? 

I think all of them feel confident that they want to take the next step with the person they’re speaking to. And what better way to do it than in a beautiful beach house in Greece, in the summer, where they can experiment with that relationship and see whether it can work? I think a lot of people were quite relieved to have a bit of time away (from phones) because not many people nowadays get to totally digitally switch off because it is everywhere. So I think that was a really poignant part of the process. Not all of the couples necessarily work out but they’ve all made really solid friendships too and it just shows how much you can establish a connection – even if it’s just a friendship connection – by taking away your phones and digital outlets. 

What do you hope BBC Three audiences takeaway from watching hope experience after they’ve watched the series? 

First and foremost I hope that they are entertained and they enjoy the show, because I enjoyed making it so much and it was one of the best experiences of my life in so many different ways. I think a lot of people can hopefully relate to someone in that beach house and I think it’s important that you can draw from the contributors’ experiences as you’re watching their first dates unfold right in front of your eyes. Maybe you’re scared of meeting someone you’ve been dating online for a while and you think, “oh, I’ll just keep it as an online thing.” Or maybe the show could encourage you to actually go and meet them and see if you like them.

I really hope it encourages people to be more of themselves online and open up, not to be afraid and hide behind a screen. We all put our best foot forward all the time, but it’s still important to engage in those deeper conversations, even if it’s online, from day one. And I would always say, speak to someone for a bit online but always have the intention of meeting them, because otherwise what’s the point? 

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Scott Baber
Scott Baber
Senior Managing editor

Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.


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