Not often does a First Dates episode spark a mystery which sets the internet scrambling for answers. But in the first episode (Thursday, September 5th) of First Dates Hotel, we were presented with such a case.

The first episode of series 4 introduced viewers to Carly and Richard, two singletons who were seemingly a match made in heaven.

And while the date was a roaring success, there was something which didn’t add up surrounding Carly’s backstory.

Channel 4 really knows how to get us all in our feels and so we’re used to tales of love and loss on the show. But Carly’s family tragedy has left more people stumped than anything.

Here’s what went down on First Dates Hotel.

Carly first dates hotel
Screenshot: Carly First Dates Hotel S4 E1 – 4oD

Carly recounts her dad’s death

Carly’s date with Richard was going as seamlessly as could be until she began to talk about her past.

Upon hearing of her previous infidelity, Carly explained that issues with her love life had stemmed from her difficult childhood.

Carly’s dad was a professional football player as she explains. But goes on to add that his health was constantly a source of trouble for the family. Her father had his first heart attack “at the side of the pitch when he was in his early twenties,” Carly explains, while her mother was pregnant with her.

She said:

He was clinically dead, then they resuscitated him, then he had another heart attack, then he had another heart attack. He had five altogether.

Knowing that someone’s going to die at any second without a doubt is going to have a profound impact. I was so scared of love.

Carly said that her father’s “fatal heart attack” happened when she was just 17.

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Fan theories

The internet went wild with people trying to figure out who Carly’s pro footballer dad could have been.

Some of the included footballers who had had heart attacks included Glenn Hoddle and Asa Hartford, but they are both still alive. Gary Ablett, Ray Wilkins and Kevin Beattie were also up for speculation, but they all passed more recently when Carly was definitely not 17-years-old.

David Longhurst was one who’s timeline matched up with Carly’s, but he died at the age of 25 making him too young to be her father.

Another theory is that her father was Johnny “Budgie” Byrne, which we reckon is the best bet. Johnny Byrne passed in 1999, then Carly would have been born in 1982. Meaning she would be turning 37-years-old this year.

Carly admitted that she resembled her father a lot, which is the only clue we have to finding him.

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Is her father Steve Brinkman?


It seemed that the internet was losing hope in finding out who was her real father until one fan unearthed an article from Luton Today in 2001.

In this article, they remember Steve Brinkman, a former Arsenal player who died in November 2001 at the age of 43. He had also suffered from five heart attacks before he died, as Carly said.

But that is not the only thing in the article which leads us to think Carly’s father was Steve Brinkman, as they said he was survived by his wife, Barbie, and four children… including a 19-year-old daughter named Carly!

We then found Carly on LinkedIn and Instagram, as she goes by the name Carly Brinkman.

So, is Carly the age she says she is?

Age was a hot topic in episode 1 of First Dates Hotel as fans jumped down the throats of the daters believing them to have lied about their real ages.

It was such a hot topic on Twitter that waiter Grant Urquhart intervened, commenting: “Guys, I can safely say all of the ages in tonight’s episode are totally legit!”

But while working out who her father could have been, fans repeatedly noticed that 36-year-old Carly would not be the age she says she was.

As the Luton article says she was 19 at the time her father passed, that would make her 37-years-old now. So Carly just misremembered her age in the episode of First Dates Hotel.

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Inside the Aquapetra Resort & Spa based in Southern Italy – First Dates Hotel!

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