'First Dates' star Merlin Griffiths wishes he'd taken cancer symptoms more seriously

Watch: First Dates' barman Merlin Griffiths gives update on cancer recovery

First Dates star Merlin Griffiths has confessed he regrets ignoring his cancer symptoms before he was diagnosed.

The 47-year-old barman - who has undergone 'life-saving' surgery after being diagnosed with Stage Three bowel cancer in 2021 - told BBC Breakfast he should should have been diagnosed sooner, but he did not take the signs seriously.

Griffiths said: "I should have got there earlier but I did get there."

Read more: Adele Roberts announces she is cancer free

He added: "I tried to sweep it under the carpet but I should have taken it more seriously. The initial checks aren't very invasive and are very easy and quick to do."

First Dates' barman Merlin Griffiths
First Dates' barman Merlin Griffiths is battling bowel cancer. (Channel 4)

The star of the Channel 4 dating show revealed he was feeling "very well, all things considered."

He said he is, "on the road to recovery, it's long and slow but we'll get there."

Griffiths, who appeared on the show alongside former rugby player and Bowel Cancer UK patron Matt Dawson, urged others to get tested for bowel cancer if they have any symptoms.

He said: "I think it's very important that people follow up these symptoms. The sooner you catch it better it is for you."

Merlin Griffiths behind the bar on First Dates
Merlin Griffiths is the friendly barman on First Dates and runs his own pub. (Channel 4/BBC)

Griffiths has a young daughter named Alix with his partner Lucile, and said he was grateful for the incredible support of his family.

He said: "They have been a rock throughout this. Without the support of my family, what could I have done?"

Speaking about telling his daughter about his diagnosis he said: "I did it very frankly and very honestly. I think much like doctors will speak to patients. You literally have to say the truth as it is."

Griffiths was fitted with a stoma bag following surgery to remove a tumour about 4.5cm wide from his bowel in April 2022.

Merlin Griffiths is barman on First Dates. (Channel 4)
Merlin Griffiths is barman on First Dates. (Channel 4)

He was readmitted for further treatment in June, following setbacks with his stoma bag — a pouch fitted to collect stools through a hole in the stomach following bowel surgery.

Read more: First Dates' Merlin Griffiths re-hospitalised with bowel cancer complications

First Dates  which also stars French Maître d' Fred Sirieix — recently aired its 18th series.

The show relocated to Manchester after 15 series filming at Paternoster Chop House in London.

Watch: Britain's longest surviving bowel cancer patient describes the importance of early diagnosis