It’s a reason to celebrate thirty years of marriage. Your relationship may have started on a television dating program, but that is a whole new level.

Even though they are ratings hits, no one is expecting the myriad of relationships formed on shows like Love Island and Married At First Sight, to last more than five seconds.

It would be fair to say, in fact, that the faster relationships end, the more entertaining it is. The make-ups or break-ups as well the jealous spats, the tears, and tantrums are all part of the entertainment.

Sue Tatham (55), and Alex (56), are so happy to be together. They celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with their children Emily (27) and Charlie (25) on October 19.

When Alex — then an ebullient 23-year-old accountant — picked the shy but smiley 22-year-old Sue on ITV’s iconic dating show Blind Date in 1988, no one could have anticipated they would forge a life-long relationship, least of all the couple themselves.

Without Blind Date — which was presented by the late Cilla Black and, in its heyday, attracted 18.2 million viewers every Saturday night — there is no way on earth they would have met.

Sue Tatham, 55, and her husband, Alex (pictured), 56, were blessed to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on October 19 with their children Emily, 27, and Charlie, 25

Sue Tatham, 55 and Alex (pictured), 56, were able to celebrate their 30th anniversary together on October 19, with their children Emily, 27 and Charlie, 25

It’s an understatement for them to have moved in different social circles. Alex was educated at Eton College and Durham University. His family was regularly featured in society bible Tatler. One report included Alex’s 21st birthday party at Fulham, West London.

Sue, a solidly middle-class woman, is the product a West Midlands comprehensive. She left school at 18 to start work in a DHSS Office.

But if the show’s producers were hoping for comedic mileage out of a culture clash between the pair — perhaps even some fireworks — then they were disappointed.

Alex and Sue were the first Blind Date couples to get married. Cilla Black was the guest in honour at their October 1991 wedding. She wore a stunning hat and had a starring role.

They are celebrating a significant anniversary at their beautiful home in London. They are smiling and exuberant about life, just like when that famous curtain was pulled back 33 years ago.

What is their secret? How is it possible to have such a successful marriage with virtually every other couple that has been on a dating show (there were only 2 other Blind Date marriages in 18 series)?

Sue, a former teacher, who now’manages her life’, admitted that she wasn’t looking for a husband. “I was just going on the show for some fun. It was the most popular TV program of its time. Everyone wanted to be a part of it.

Alex agrees. He smiles and says, “I’ve always been a show-off.” ‘I was looking for a laugh — not a wife.’

Without Blind Date — which was presented by the late Cilla Black and, in its heyday, attracted 18.2 million viewers every Saturday night — there is no way on earth they would have met

Without Blind Date — which was presented by the late Cilla Black and, in its heyday, attracted 18.2 million viewers every Saturday night — there is no way on earth they would have met 

In fact, so blasé was Alex, who was doing the ‘picking’, he confesses he actually went ‘eenie, meenie, minie mo’ in his head before plumping for Sue, who was sitting in the middle between her brunette rivals — Lyn from Middlesex and Kate from Essex.

Talking to this charming couple, it’s evident that they have the secret to a happy relationship, regardless their intentions.

Sue says, “We have each other’s backs.” We are there for one another no matter what life throws at them. Alex will always be there to check on me, even if we’re at a party.

“We may have different backgrounds, but our values are similar. We both hate arguments, and we make it a priority for our relationship to be friendly. Family is always first. 

“Most importantly, we want fun. We love to share new experiences. It’s true, I still get goosebumps every time Alex enters a room.

It all began when the curtain was pulled back. . . And had very little to do about looks.

Sue, who is 5’6″ tall, was so afraid that Alex would be short that she borrowed flat shoes from a friend to wear for the night.

When the mop-haired Alex — an impressive 6 ft 2 in — appeared, Sue instantly relaxed.

Alex was struck by Sue, a bubbly blonde with a huge smile.

Their future was sealed when they left the set hand in hand, ready for a date in Ireland.

Alex whispered to my: “This is going to an extraordinary experience, which we will discuss for the rest of our life.” No matter what, let’s ensure we stay friends,’ Sue says.

It summed up how I felt. Knowing that Alex valued kindness as much I did made it easy for me to get to know him. Many of the Blind Date couples fought over one another afterward.

They did. This is what cynics might think was the intention of TV producers when they matched Old Etonian Alex with the slightly more humble Sue Middleton.

Alex says stoutly that he’s never seen himself as a posh kid and that he still doesn’t. “A class divide may exist in the eyes of others, but it doesn’t exist in my eyes. I do know that Sue and I were very much wanted to be on the same program by the team. 

‘I had accountancy exam, which meant that I had to change the date on which I could appear. They altered Sue’s appearance in order to make her fit in.

When Alex picked Sue (pictured with Emily, four and Charlie, two in 1998) on ITV's dating show Blind Date in 1988, no one could have anticipated they would forge a life-long relationship

Alex and Sue, pictured with Emily, four, and Charlie, two, in 1998 on ITV’s dating program Blind Date, were not expecting to form a long-lasting relationship.

No matter whether TV producers felt love or loathing for Alex and Sue, their relationship took off like an explosion. Their date was to fly to Shannon to attend a medieval banquet. 

They chatted non-stop on the plane, quickly discovering how similar they were. Even their birthdays are two days apart.

However, there was no opportunity to be intimate as opposed to reality shows like Love Island where such things are encouraged. Alex recalls that Alex was heavily chaperoned, and that our hotels were five-miles apart.

“It was almost Covid style social distancing conditions. Although we were enjoying ourselves, the TV researchers didn’t want any hankypanky.

Sue quickly agreed. She says that it couldn’t have been any different to today’s dating shows. I enjoy Married At First Sight. I find it utterly addictive, even though Alex isn’t there to disapprove.

‘When I went on Blind Date I was a real party girl, eager to have fun, so I may well have been tempted to appear on something like Love Island — with all that sunshine and nice men.

“But thank goodness I lived in an era when TV was not so intrusive and people weren’t encouraged hate to each other.

“I would be very concerned if any of our children wanted go on a dating program. It’s more than just the tackiness. It has the potential for trolling. Life was so much more gentle 30 years ago.

Alex and Sue remember how they managed to escape cameras shortly after returning from Ireland.

Alex says that Sue was taken to London Zoo by Alex because she could see behind the scenes at Chimp House thanks to her degree in Zoology. I took Sue out to dinner that night and that’s when she got her first kiss.

Although they lived 120 miles apart, their relationship developed at an incredible pace. Just three weeks after meeting, Sue — who still lived at the family home — introduced Alex to her parents, Barrie, a headmaster, and Barbara, a civil servant.

Alex and Sue made TV history as the first Blind Date couple to get married. Cilla Black was the guest of honour at their wedding (pictured) in October 1991

 Alex and Sue made TV history as the first Blind Date couple to get married. Cilla Black was the guest-of-honour at their October 1991 wedding (pictured).

She said, “It’s a big moment.” “I had been with boyfriends before, but this was the first time I knew it was serious.

“Alex is such a charmer, and wanted to get his name remembered. He brought along some ladybird-shaped slippers. They were a complete icebreaker. My parents laughed with joy. It cemented our jolliness.

Alex’s parents, David (a trademark agent) and Jenefer (an interior designer), had never even heard of Blind Date. They were not only baffled, but also worried when he revealed that he had fallen for his date.

Alex says, “But then they met Sue, and all their worries disappeared.” They could see how wonderful we were together.

They courted for three years — spending every weekend together either in London or Walsall — before getting married at Sue’s parish church in Pelsall on October 19, 1991.

Sue says that when you long to see someone again after saying goodbye, you know it is real.

The nation was so involved in their romance, that 5,000 strangers showed up outside the church cheering them on. Meanwhile, the televised Blind Date marriage special was the second most-watched program of 1991 with 17,000,000 viewers.

‘Even so, it was very much our wedding — us saying our vows,’ insists Sue.

“Cilla was just lovely, she wore a funny cap and everyone wanted to see it.

Six weeks prior to the wedding Sue’s employment company transferred Sue to London. The newlyweds were to establish their home in a terrace house in South-West London.

Alex says, “We had a traditional courtship as well as a traditional wedding, but we didn’t live with each other before we were married.”

“Our honeymoon in Mauritius was the first time we spent any amount of time together.”

After retraining as a Montessori teacher, Sue worked while bringing up their children — Emily, who was born in 1994, and her little brother, Charlie who arrived two years later.

Alex, who is now the managing director at Westcoast, a top supplier of IT products, has made a transition into the computer industry.

How have they built such a successful marriage when there were only two other Blind Date marriages over 18 series? Pictured: Alex and Sue with children Emily and Charlie

How did they manage to build such a successful marriage after only two other Blind Date marriages in 18 series? Pictured: Alex, Sue and their children Emily and Charlie

This is a couple who are determined to make light of everything life throws at them — and appreciate that they are lucky to have privileges many would envy.

Alex has had a great career and both of their children went to top private schools, including Charlie to Eton in London and Emily to Downe House (Berkshire). 

The house that has been my home for 20 years is a magnificent double-fronted Victorian house, built in 1879 in a fashionable area of South London.

Sue says that she knows we are extremely lucky. ‘We are blessed with two amazing children whom we adore. Emily is a Warwick graduate and works in social media. Charlie is a software developer and studied at St Andrews. Every Sunday, we have a Zoom family.

No couple can avoid pain, regardless of how cheerful they are. These past years have been very challenging.

Alex’s father David died suddenly two years ago. He was 82.

Alex says that Dad went to hospital for an operation, but never woke up. It was very traumatizing, but it was so good to have Sue by my side. It was the moment that summed up everything I care about in my life. My job is looking after Mum, Sue, & my sister.

“Then, in January this year, Alex took over the responsibility of comforting Sue after her father’s death, also aged at 82.

Sue explains, “Dad had Parkinson’s disease for the final few years of his existence, which was really horrible. It was even worse that we couldn’t see him at the end due to Covid. He is missed by me every day.

However, these happy couples will treasure all they have, no matter their private pains.

Alex says that if there is a secret, it’s that they still love one another crazy and get that little frisson whenever we see them.

“We have one of those doorbells that you can see who is at the door. It’s connected to my phone. Sue will often come into the house and I will be at work. I’ll surprise Sue by calling: ‘Hello! I love you!’ ‘

Sue says that Alex is always there to make life interesting. I’ve enjoyed every minute of the past thirty years with him.

“I don’t think anyone would recommend going on a dating program to find a husband. But it has worked out for us.

“Without Blind Dates, we simply could not have met.” We are very lucky.