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Steve 'go Dutch' Salvari from 'First Dates' fame speaks

LOTS OF LOLs: Participant Elaine, left, with Steve during their appearance on 'First Dates' (photo credit: Channel 4)

SINCE CHANNEL 4's Valentine's Day edition of their popular reality series First Dates, national media (social and otherwise) has been ablaze with fiery feedback about a particular couple, Steve and Elaine, after Steve asked his blind date if they could "go Dutch" on the bill.

Steve Salvari has single-handedly (with some help from Elaine) created national uproar as many viewers voiced their opinions on the end-of-night awkwardness. People in their thousands have called-in to debates on BBC radio, watched a recap of events on The Wright Stuff, shared articles about the dinner date from national tabloid websites and weighed-in on in the comments section under a Salvari-inspired Guardian opinion piece.

A music producer and singer of respectable pedigree among those in the know from the British Funk and Soul scenes, Salvari has worked with the likes of Chaka Khan, Barry White and Natalie Cole plus he's a founding member of Top 40 charting 1980s / 1990s band Central Line.

Keen to share his side of the story after Channel 4 "butchered" him during their editing process, Salvari sat down with The Voice and offered his point of view on what happened and why.

HARD AT WORK: Music producer Steve behind the mixing desk

Q: Elaine's first question to you on camera was, ‘do you work?’ - what did you make of that?

A: Nothing (chuckles)! I’d already written her off. I looked at her and thought 'nah'. She's not my type at all. I'm just friendly.

Q:You told Elaine she was a "good-looking woman" so how come she's not your type?

A: She is good-looking. She's a very nice woman, just not for me. Channel 4 didn't show the part where she said to me 'you're very easy on the eye' - I was being polite. That's the way I was bought-up.

Q: So if you had met a woman that was your type, how different would your behaviour have been because you seemed quite flirty on the show and even danced with her in the restaurant?

A: I would have been a bit more touchy-feely and done all the things that typically happen with someone that you fancy the pants off! I would have reached over and touched her arm while we were talking, that sort of stuff.

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW: Steve and Elaine during a spontaneous moment during their date

Q: When you asked Elaine what was 'wrong with rub-up-rub-up dance' many people felt like you fancied her - don't you think you were giving off the image of a player with that comment?

A: I know people would have looked at that and thought I was being a chancer but that was just me being my normal jokey self. I may be old now but my sense of humour feels the same as it did when I was 15, haha!

Q: Some viewers commented that perhaps you didn't like Elaine because she was a strong woman - what say you?

A: Nah, that wasn't it. I wasn't attracted to her. She said 'I could never be with someone like that' and I felt the same about her but I wasn't going to be rude. She had a high opinion of herself and I was a bit put off. Strong people don't need to run their gums like she did.

My mum she was ill for most of her life and if ever there was a leader, it was her. My aunty Velma could chop down a mountain with one chop, my cousin Eileen, who's 20 years older than me so I call her 'aunty', my aunty Mary - those were strong women.

Q: Did you know you had to pay for the meal before you went on the show?

A: No! What man in his right mind would go on TV without money, knowing he was gonna have to cough (up)?! I had no idea how big the show was. The night before I went on, I watched about 10 minutes of it and thought it would be airing at one o'clock in the morning or something like that!

To be fair to Channel 4, they did ask me if I had seen the show before and I said 'yes' so they must've thought I knew about the payment bit.

EXTRA CLASSIC: Musical Steve on a video shoot

Q: What were you really hoping to gain from going on the show?

A: A friend called me after one of the junior producers got in touch with him to see if he could recommend someone to them. They had a shortage of older black and minority ethnic (BAME) men for the show and this lady of the same age, who turned out to be Elaine, already waiting. I thought 'if I meet someone nice, I meet someone' and if not I'll do it for a laugh.

Q: Some people questioned your legitimacy as a producer and said you were broke - what would you say to those people?

A: I don't care what they think (laughs)! I didn't have it on me. I had no idea they were going to ask us to pay. What people don't know is that just before I went on, someone went into my bank account and took all I had so I was waiting for the money to be replaced and for a new card.

Q: What’s your view on chivalry?

A: If it was a blind date, it would have been arranged by people that knew you mutually and knew your potential budget. On a first date I would've paid but I would have liked it if the woman offered to contribute. I am an equal opportunities person as I said on the show but the right thing to do on a first date would be me to pay.

I once went on a date and a woman insisted on paying. I wouldn't have it. In the end we went back and forth and I said 'alright, you pay for the drinks and I'll pay for the food'.

Watch one of Steve and Elaine's awkward moments below:

Q: What didn’t we see, what was edited out?

A: You have to be quick to see the look of surprise I had when the waitress was coming up. When I got the bill I was like 'oh my gosh' and I gave Elaine a panicked expression which she should have picked-up on. I felt annoyed that she then said 'what are you saying to me exactly Steve'? We were both given £25 towards the bill by Channel 4, which I thought was for our travel expenses. She put down £20 which meant she wasn't even prepared to put down the £25 that she had. I was actually quite annoyed. The bill was £111...she had a couple of glasses of wine.

I’m aggrieved that they let her have the last word and didn't show my final comments. I said that I wouldn't want to see her again.

Channel 4 rang me the day after it had aired and asked if I was alright. I was driving down the motorway, I hadn't even seen all the comments and then they told me. I said, 'look, I'm a big man, I will handle it, don't worry' but I do feel I've been thrown to the wolves a bit. They really butchered me.

PUT A TENNER ON IT: The Voice's Online Editor Andrea Photiou, left, with Steve and a valued £10 note!

Q: What has affected you most about this whole thing?

A: The ignorant comments from women who don't listen!

I went on BBC Three Counties, it was Edward Adoo's show. An idiot called Yvonne (and you can print that) who was a random woman in the studio, ignored what I had said and live on air commented that I had issues, a lack of confidence and that something must've happened to me in my past life! I only heard it by chance because they let the conversation run for 45 minutes after I'd left the studio.

I’ve only been really annoyed by a couple of people online who have attacked my friends, people that have stuck-up for me and said 'you don't know what you're taking about, he's not like that'. There was a pastor, who I don't know on my mate Steve Stavrinou's Facebook page that said I was "cheap" and some other upsetting, personal things. Steve dealt with him on the thread.

Another woman called one of my female friends a "whore" because she was defending me. Some friends have been attacked in a bad way!

98% of my friends and family have stuck by me but sadly I've lost a 40-year friendship with a woman who was close to me and my family - we used to babysit eachother's kids...she just looked at me, shook her head and turned away when I saw her at the Soul Survivors awards - I was playing there with my band BritFunk Association and initially greeted her with open arms.

Another friend and I still have to work some things out because he said he didn't believe I literally didn't have the money on me. We'll work it out though. We're blokes.

What would you say to your true future Valentine who might have seen you on in a misleading light the programme?

A It's up to them to judge, I really don't care! My real friends know who I am.

Watch out for our filmed debate, featuring Steve Salvari, on who should pick-up the tab - coming soon to The Voice Online. If you have any comments or questions to add to the conversation, please comment below this article.

Watch Steve in musician mode as he performs Golden Lady, below:

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