A 26-year-old from Buckinghamshire said going on a reality TV dating show was a ‘crazy’ experience that ‘taught him so much about himself’.

Paul Liba, 26, moved to Chesham with his family in 2019 and had settled into his life as a self-described “country boy”, focusing on his account manager job, boxing side hustle and going out drinking with his friends on the weekends.

His priorities suddenly shifted, though, when his best friend Jack passed away unexpectedly, shocking him out of the easy-going pattern he had fallen into.

“I just realised that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. You can’t predict the future and it’s not going to go the way you think it will. I’d always liked the idea of going on a reality dating show, but I don’t think I would have taken it seriously before Jack's death.

“I probably would have come on the show and got married but tried to chat to the other wives or something. But instead, when the opportunity came up, I thought, ‘I need to be more serious about myself and my life’.”

Paul was approached on Instagram to star on Channel 4’s Married at First Sight, a show where singles are paired up by a panel of dating experts before exchanging (non-legally binding) wedding vows, sight unseen.

He said yes, not thinking it would actually turn into anything. Once it became clear that he would soon be standing at the altar waiting to meet the stranger who would become his wife, there was some apprehension – but he was nonetheless committed to jumping into the experience with both feet.

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“My intention going in was to find a wife, even though I’d never been in a serious relationship before. I’ve seen girls for a few months, but it has never got to the point where they’re meeting my mum, that’s for sure.”

Paul married Tasha Jay, a 25-year-old childcare assistant from Leeds, and while the contestants aren’t allowed to reveal whether they’re still together until the series finishes airing next month, he can say that he had “an amazing experience”.

“It was an intense process at times but being partnered with someone like Tasha made it easy for me. I was definitely scared of what my mum would think, bless her. My parents are traditional Christians, so I think me getting married to a stranger was definitely a bit of a step back for them, but they got over it.”

Paul and Tasha have been fan favourites since the series began airing on E4 at the end of September, and the Chesham local said that while "what really matters” is how the pair feel about each other, he has appreciated seeing all the support.

“I would definitely recommend coming on the show – I’ve had a great time. Not only do you learn so much about another person, but you learn about yourself, too. I’ve been watching it back with my friends and thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, I didn’t know I was such a wet wipe!’”

Married at First Sight UK is currently airing at 9pm every Monday to Thursday on E4 and streaming on Channel 4.