Take Me Out - to Israel tour?

He had the pick of the girls on a TV dating show - then unwittingly chose one he'd met on an Israel youth tour.


They went on a dating show to meet someone new - and ended up walking into the sunset with someone they hiked through the Negev with 10 years ago.

Accountant Richard Ludwig, 26, unwittingly chose a Jewish girl on the ITV's Take Me Out without realising they already knew each other.

The show offers male contestants the chance to impress 30 single girls. The girls are equipped with lights, which they switch off if they are not interested in a date.

The men have to choose from those remaining. And Mr Ludwig, from West Hampstead, picked 26-year-old Jacqui Faiman from Stanmore for a romantic trip to the "Isle of Fernandos" - thought to be Tenerife.

Pick me out: Mr Ludwig and Ms Faiman on an FZY tour in 2000

Pick me out: Mr Ludwig and Ms Faiman on an FZY tour in 2000

It was only after the show had finished that he noticed Jacqui was wearing a magen David necklace.

"I said, oh my God, you're Jewish. But she didn't react, so then I thought maybe her necklace was just jewellery.

"Then backstage she looked at me in a really familiar way and I knew something really weird was going on. I thought I'd been stitched up by my friends."

He began to think of all the Jewish girls called Jacqui he knew in London - but never dreamed it would be one of the 20 who had been on FZY Tour 7 in summer 2000.

"We travelled together for four weeks, so I can't believe I didn't recognise her," he said. "I knew then that it had to be her. We were even Facebook friends, but hadn't spoken for 10 years."

Their holiday will be screened on Saturday. But he said they spent so much of it reminiscing about Israel, producers told them to talk about something else.

"It's an amazing story," he said. "I can't believe there were two Jews on the show and that we picked each other out of everyone.

"When I found out, my heart started beating. I thought it was fate."

Despite his fling with reality TV, Richard, who was born in Manchester, said he would like to meet a Jewish girl for a long-term relationship.

"And, as my mum said, even if nothing happens with Jacqui, maybe she has some nice Jewish friends."

Ms Faiman, who works for Living TV, was less forthcoming. She wanted to be paid to talk to us.

No likey. No lighty.

Last updated: 10:49am, February 11 2011