Davina McCall and Ricky Merino, with the promo 'The language of love'. | Última hora


He's a Mallorcan singer, actor, TV host, big fan of the Spice Girls and co-host of Channel 4's new reality dating series The Language of Love alongside Davina McCall.

Channel 4 caught up with Ricky Merino to ask him all about the new series and his busy year of releasing music and stepping out as "the Spanish Patrick Swayze".

The Language of Love starts 4 January at 11pm on Channel 4.

Many viewers in the UK won’t be familiar with you yet. How would you like to introduce yourself?
I’m Ricky Merino, I’m a singer and an actor. Here in Spain, people started to know me because I was a contestant on a talent show (Operación Triunfo) which is kinda like The X Factor of Spain. I’m so pleased to be a host now on British television. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe it’s happening.

In your own words, tell us a bit about what The Language of Love is about.
It starts like a dating show, but to me it’s more than that. It has some bits of social experiment. For example, the daters need to break the language barrier to have deep connections between them and that’s not easy.

How did the daters initially get along with the challenge of not knowing each other’s languages?
Some of them were really open to the experiment. A few of them were not that happy in the beginning, because they came thinking they were going to be in a conventional dating show and this revelation blew their minds. We have a great cast and every one of them wanted to give the experiment a chance. We have some really funny moments in the beginning when they didn’t know they wouldn’t be speaking the same language.

What type of activities did the daters do to get to know each other?
We had these tareas románticas – tasks that they had to do to improve their connections. They have things like yoga time as couples to get to know each other. They did something called soul gazing, where they had to look into each other’s eyes, and there were tears! I’m very proud of some of the tareas románticas because British people will get to know a bit of my country and my culture: lots of them are related to Spain.

What do you think the daters found the most difficult about getting to know someone who doesn’t speak the same language?
The first days were the most difficult, because they had no idea how to explain themselves. For example, when you meet someone for the first time, you ask them for their age and they didn’t know how to do it, so that was frustrating for them. It was fun for me and Davina to watch. But you’ll see as the time goes on that they really build strong connections.

Did you think the Spanish men or Spanish women would have more success in the experiment?
There’s one thing about the Spanish people that I think is very different from the British people and that is that we are very open from the very first moment, which is very good for the experiment, but also we can be a little bit rude or a bit loud. But we are very easy-going people so that really worked for the experiment. I don’t think that would be a difference for women or men. I think in this show, the men were a little crazier but all of them were really open.

How did you get on with your co-host Davina? It seems like you two really hit it off.
It was love at first sight! I met her a couple of days before we started the show. It felt like we’d known each other for ages. She was the perfect co-host. I was so lucky.

Did you find you had anything surprising in common with Davina?
I’m a huge fan of British music, especially the Spice Girls, and Davina knows some of the Spice Girls, so that was huge for me. I told Davina that I remembered that she was the host of the Brit Awards in 1999 and she was the one that introduced Geri Halliwell’s performance of Bag It Up – the one where Geri danced between two legs, it was iconic – and the moment I met Davina, I needed to tell her. After I met her, I called my friends and told them “Oh my god, I met Davina!”. I know her because of the British culture and also from MTV Select, because I was a teenager who watched MTV and I remember her on that.

And you’re both into your exercise, did you get to work out together?
No, she was in one hotel and I was in a different hotel so we didn’t get a chance to have time together to work out. I’m keen on crossfit, so I’d love to have Davina as a crossfit partner anytime.

Did the British daters or Davina teach you any interesting English expressions you didn’t know?
More than words, they taught me so much about the British culture, because I had so many questions. I’m from Mallorca and I’m used to meeting British people. So, for example, I asked Davina, “Why do you British people always wear socks with flip flops when you come to Mallorca?” and “What is gravy made of?” and she didn’t know.

Did you teach any Spanish expressions to Davina?
A lot of them. One was “picaflor”, which we use for that kind of guy who goes from one girl to another. We use it for guys and not girls. It’s like a hummingbird that goes to a flower and dips its beak and then flies off to another flower.