The much loved Merlin Griffiths, made famous as the barman from First Dates, is currently battling illness and has received an outpouring of well-wishes from fans of the Channel 4 series. An approachable, friendly and kind figure on the dating show, Merlin doesn doesn ‘t actually work at the restaurant full-time.
He is in fact the owner of The Priory Tavern, a bar and restaurant in Kilburn, north-west London.
On Merlin’s absence from the show and his battle with illness, his co-star Fred Sirieix told MailOnline: “I really love him. He’s incredibly positive and pragmatic as well. I’m just not surprised because that’s the type of guy he is. You can always rely on Merlin. “
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“And we’ve been speaking over the phone and texting, I’ve just enquired how he is and making sure he’s ok. It reminds you of how lucky you are. If you’re healthy and you have your wits about you, that’s it. “”
“You are having a good life. But it can be all taken away from us so quickly and unexpectedly so we’ve got to cherish and enjoy every single moment.”
“I speak very often with Merlin and he’s in good spirits. Maybe we’ll sit down and have a nice roast and a pint after a walk on a Sunday.”
What illness does First Dates Merlin have?
Merlin is currently battling bowel cancer after having a 4.5cm tumour removed in April. Posting a selfie from his hospital bed, he thanked the NHS for saving his life and declared he was now “tumour free”.
Tests revealed he had cancer in September 2021 and shortly began chemo and radiotherapy before undergoing surgery to remove the cancer. Updating fans, he wrote “Journey is far from over yet. But the path is now clearer than it has been for quite some time” ..
Merlin previously worked in India and has one child with his partner Lucile. The pair met at a cocktail competition more than a decade ago, with the barman bagging the top prize.
Merlin previously commented on telling his daughter he had cancer in a heart-breaking conversation.
He told The Mirror: “I said,’Dad’s got cancer’. She said,’ Is that bad, Dad?’
“I said,’Yes, it’s very serious but I think it should be OK. Modern medicine’s great and if anything changes I’ll let you know.’
“She understands that people can die but I told her cancer comes in different varieties and in different ways too – and that many people come through it.”
The dad of one first experienced stomach pains in June last year, which he had first put down to car accident scar tissue. It actually turned out to be a Stage 3 tumour.