Blind Date contestant TURNED DOWN Amanda Holden 30 years ago.. and then married her lookalike

It might have been 30 years ago but it is a moment Barnaby Hands’ friends will never let him forget – the time he turned down Amanda Holden on prime-time TV.

Amanda was then a 19-year-old unknown drama student who signed up for Cilla Black’s Blind Date ‘for a laugh’.

Now, as she is tipped to host her own dating show for the BBC, The Mail on Sunday tracked down the man who rejected her in front of 14 million ITV viewers.

‘I still get teased about it to this day,’ Barnaby said. ‘When she became famous everyone kept telling me, “You idiot!”’

STAR QUALITY: As Amanda Holden is tipped to host her own dating show for the BBC, The Mail on Sunday tracked down the man who rejected her in front of 14 million ITV viewers

‘My brother used to tease me so much. He said, “I can’t believe you turned down Amanda Holden!” She used to do some modelling in men’s magazines and he would phone me up and say, “What were you thinking?”’

He admits that even on that day in 1991, he felt a pang of regret when he first set eyes on the girl he rejected. ‘I felt so awkward,’ he confessed. ‘She was stunning.’

Barnaby, now an executive at film giant Paramount, later found love with Becca, who he married 17 years ago. And he admits she bears a similarity to the star. ‘They are both quite petite,’ he said.

Barnaby, 50, still remembers every detail of his Blind Date appearance, even though it started in a haze of lager.

DOUBLE DATE: It might have been 30 years ago but it is a moment Barnaby Hands' friends will never let him forget – the time he turned down Amanda Holden on prime-time TV. (Pictured: On the popular ITV dating show in 1991)

DOUBLE DATE: It might have been 30 years ago but it is a moment Barnaby Hands’ friends will never let him forget – the time he turned down Amanda Holden on prime-time TV. (Pictured: On the popular ITV dating show in 1991)

Amanda was then a 19-year-old unknown drama student who signed up for Cilla Black’s Blind Date ‘for a laugh’ (pictured on the show)

 Amanda was then a 19-year-old unknown drama student who signed up for Cilla Black’s Blind Date ‘for a laugh’ (pictured on the show)

‘I was 20 and at university in Manchester,’ he said. ‘A load of mates had been drinking in the union and called me up and said, “You have to come and join us – they’re interviewing for Blind Date.” We all went in together and had an interview at the Piccadilly Hotel. Then they asked me to come on to the show.’

When he appeared, Barnaby posed three questions to three different contestants, including Amanda. His opening gambit was to admit he had put on weight as a student, so asked: ‘How would you help me lose the pounds?’

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