It’s an age-old dilemma: When is it too soon to start dating after being widowed?

The unlikely star of My Mum, Your Dad – dubbed Love Island for the middle-aged – is 58-year-old postman Roger Hawes, who agonises over the question.

Mr Hawes lost his wife Joanne 18 months ago following a short battle with cancer.

A little over a year later he was nominated by his eldest daughter Jess to appear on the new ITV series – a decision which after the opening episode has already divided nation.

The dating show, which airs over ten nights, sees single parents in their 40s and 50s try to find a new love with the added twist that their young adult children are secretly watching every encounter.

Jess told viewers that she and her two siblings had signed their father up as ‘our way of saying it’s OK for you to move on from mum’.

The unlikely star of My Mum, Your Dad ¿ dubbed Love Island for the middle-aged ¿ is 58-year-old postman Roger Hawes

The unlikely star of My Mum, Your Dad ¿ dubbed Love Island for the middle-aged ¿ is 58-year-old postman Roger Hawes

The unlikely star of My Mum, Your Dad – dubbed Love Island for the middle-aged – is 58-year-old postman Roger Hawes

Roger and Caroline's date sees Roger, 58, open up about losing his late wife

Roger and Caroline's date sees Roger, 58, open up about losing his late wife

Roger and Caroline’s date sees Roger, 58, open up about losing his late wife

That didn’t seem to wash with Generation Z viewers – those ged roughly from 13 to 26 – who berated him for moving on so quickly, saying he ‘needed time to heal’.

But many of the show’s older viewers praised Mr Hawes for taking part in the show and labelled him ‘fit’.

X, formerly known as Twitter, was inundated with users clamouring to date the ‘silver fox’ from Derbyshire, who fans say resembles a ‘posh Paul Hollywood’. One viewer wrote: ‘Let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit in love with Roger.’ Another said they were ‘smitten’ by him, while someone else simply wrote: ‘I want to date Roger.’

In contrast, TikTok users – most commonly Generation Z – said they believed it was too soon for the postman to be seeking a new partner.

One lambasted his decision, saying: ‘Definitely too soon for this man to date. He needs to find himself first before looking for a relationship.’ Another said: ‘Why is he on here, it’s a waste of space.’

Viewers first became divided over how appropriate it was for Mr Hawes to take part in the show when he was chosen by Caroline, a tech adviser from Scotland, for what became an emotional first date. While they sipped champagne on lawn chairs in the mansion’s garden, he revealed it was his first date in 40 years after his wife, Joanne, died 18 months earlier.

Caroline was reduced to tears while Roger recounted how Joanne was shockingly diagnosed with melanoma cancer which spread to her brain at the age of 52. 

X, formerly known as Twitter, was inundated with users clamouring to date the 'silver fox' from Derbyshire, who fans say resembles a 'posh Paul Hollywood'

X, formerly known as Twitter, was inundated with users clamouring to date the 'silver fox' from Derbyshire, who fans say resembles a 'posh Paul Hollywood'

X, formerly known as Twitter, was inundated with users clamouring to date the ‘silver fox’ from Derbyshire, who fans say resembles a ‘posh Paul Hollywood’

She died shortly after, when she went for a nap on the sofa and never woke up. In an interview yesterday, Mr Hawes was asked if he had been ready to date when he joined the show.

He told ITV’s Lorraine programme: ‘I sort of knew I wasn’t ready. I’ve loved it [the show] and I think I get slightly better as it goes on. It was difficult but it wasn’t something that I wanted to pass up.’

On Monday night the first episode showed eight single parents, aged 48 to 60, arrive at the West Sussex mansion, dropped off by their adult children who nominated them.

After an introductory drink on the lawn, the parents are told by host Davina McCall they will go on their first dates immediately – to which Mr Hawes looked uncomfortable.

Despite it being much anticipated, My Mum, Your Dad struggled to get even half of the viewers that Love Island got in its heyday. Monday night’s show peaked with 1.7million and averaged at 1.5million.

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