A professional martial arts fighter from Magherafelt has appeared on the hit Channel 4 show Celebrity First Dates.
Tommy Quinn who now lives in Newcastle, made the trip to London to take part in the programme and was unwittingly matched with Gogglebox celebrity Scarlett Moffatt, 25.
In a bizarre twist, the pair actually discovered they knew each other through Facebook, although they failed to hit it off romantically.
Scarlett has since tweeted a link to her date’s Twitter profile, saying: “For everyone fan girling about how fit Tommy my bearded date was on first dates his Twitter is @TheRolyPolyKid #FirstDates”
On his Twitter handle, Tommy describes himself as an ‘Irish, bearded, ballroom dancing magician who likes to sketch from time to time’ - aka The Roly Poly Kid.
Anyone who watched the Celebrity First Dates programme (episode two) will know the name harks back to when he carried a little more weight. Indeed, while he’s since been a Tyne Tees model, Tommy admitted to Scarlett, on what was actually his first-ever date, that at the age of 17 he was 17 stone.
“I used to be dead fat at school – I was morbidly obese,” he said. “My life was non-existent without fighting.”
The tables have somewhat turned however, as Tommy, who travels around the world coaching fighters, was given a 10 out of 10 by First Dates maitre d’ Fred Sirieix as he entered the restaurant.
Although Scarlett and Tommy seemed to get on well, the talkative TV star said he was too chatty for her liking, so gave him the brush-off.
Before he arrived at the restaurant, she said she liked the pirate look and someone she could have banter with. During a toilet break however, she rang a friend and said: “He’s lovely and very very handsome. On paper he would be amazing but he just doesn’t ask any questions… I want someone who listens to me.”
They made me look like I didn’t shut up!Tommy Quinn
Speaking to the Mail on Tuesday, Tommy said he’d applied to go on the show nine months ago “for a bit of craic”.
He got the email asking him to interview however, when he was in Australia helping a friend prepare for a fight.
“One of the crew then asked to Skype me,” he said. “She recorded it and said she’d see if they could forward me through to the filming stages.”
By the time he got home to Newcastle, Tommy had been invited to London for an interview and two weeks later, was called back for his date. At the time, however, he had no idea it was for the celebrity version.
After turning up for his date, Tommy said he so was surprised when he saw Scarlett.
“We have a lot of mutual friends,” he said of the TV star. “She invited us to be friends on Facebook over a year ago. As I walked in, we just knew each other. We just talked about Newcastle and the people we knew.”
For anyone who saw the episode, there was a card trick from Tommy, while it looked as if he did most of the talking.
Having watched it back, he told the Mail the editing had been very much in Scarlett’s favour.
“They made her look a lot better than she was,” he said. “They made it look like I didn’t shut up! The worst part was that, when I went to the interview for the show, they asked me what else did I do, apart from the fighting. I did a lot of ballroom dancing for a while and I do tricks. So, they asked me to bring a deck of cards down to the date.”
It was his father, who used to own Broadway Bar in Magherafelt – where Sizzler’s and Curly’s is now – who inspired Tommy to learn magic tricks.
He told the Mail his dad was a “ridiculously good jiver” and that customers coming to the bar would teach him tricks.
The day job for Tommy is, however, coaching fighters of all ages, as he works with teens from 14-years-old, to more mature fighters through his business, Bad Boy Training Centre.
A second date with Scarlett might not have been on the cards for Tommy, but he said it had been a positive experience, despite the fact the show made him look “a little weird”.
“I would do it again,” he said.