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All’s fair in love and war when you’re looking for a life partner on reality TV – and that all but guarantees surprises, twists and turns on any show. Season 1 of The Bachelor SA (2019-current, the full boxset is now on Showmax) had more than enough shockers and exciting viewing to keep fans glued to their screens… and to YouTube where the series proved a success over the course of 13 weeks.

“I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be easy as hearts would be broken, but I knew that there would also be those special moments that I will cherish forever,” says SA’s hunky first bachelor Lee Thompson.

Episode 1 had him jittery, though. “I was meeting 24 ladies for the first time and had no idea what to expect. Ultimately, I was looking for someone who is kind, caring, physically attractive, has a great sense of humour, someone who I can be myself with and someone who I can see starting a family with.” – need a refresher on the 24 girls? Click here

Without dropping a rose petal, here are our top 10 favourite eye-popping moments, the good, the bad and the downright cringeworthy…

1. First impressions

The ladies brought their A-games to vie for Lee’s attention in episode 1, but some were punted out of bounds from the word go.

Liverpool-supporting Daneal Catelle thought that a soccer ball and friendly kick-around would score a goal, only for Lee to crush her hopes by revealing his allegiance to Liverpool’s arch rivals Manchester United. Oops!

Jenna Carmen Lithgow did her homework and brought cinnamon sugar, knowing that Lee can’t say no to blueberry pancakes. “Hopefully he’ll make them for me,” she chuckled as she sped back to the Bachelor Mansion to let out a sigh of relief.

Kerry Lambourn broke the ice by giving Lee a heart-shaped block of ice that he had to break open to get to her little love letter. Cheesy but cute.

Awkies Award goes to Kelly Tiegan, who had high hopes by rocking up in a wedding veil. Plus, she asked Lee to remove her garter that had a little note for him.

2. Double up

We said there were surprises, right? How about twins! Lee was as stunned as viewers when Sandy and Lucy Thompson showed up in episode 1 wearing identical gold sequin dresses. “It was so unexpected to see twins,” admitted Lee later.

3. Runaway love

What would a Bachelor Mansion be without a little cattiness – there has GOT to be that one person who scratches where there isn’t an itch… like Thenjiwe Bhengu. She called out Michelle R Reddy for being fake in episode 2.

“You pretend to be something you’re not,” she told a shocked Michelle R. While Thenjiwe was the one to say it, the other girls felt the same way… which let to Michelle R’s emotions getting the better of her as she fled the house, jumped into a production crew van and screamed at the girls, “Leave me alone!”

4. Call the doctor

But hey, karma is harsh. In episode 3, Thenjiwe upped the drama when she fainted after not getting a rose from Lee and being voted out. Not to be outdone, Annalene Maduramutha also left in episode 3 without a rose but gave Lee some choice words: “This is all bullshit!”

5. Aquaman

Lee proved himself a knight in shining armour in episode 3 on the water obstacle course. Having fallen off and needing help back on the obstacles, Gina Myers was heroically rescued by Lee, who scooped her up in his muscled arms. “I think Lee is a true hero as he helped a damsel in distress,” Michelle R gushed, somewhat jealous.

6. I quit!

Self-confessed introvert Mbali Mkhize stunned viewers, Lee and the production crew by quitting in episode 4. She tried her best to open to potential husband Lee and they did become quite close, but she crawled back into her shell during a photoshoot when she noticed Lee not giving her enough attention. “The photographer pushed me aside and Lee didn’t ask me to stay. That’s when I realised that it wasn’t for me,” Mbali explained.

7. Mystery thief

Cat-fight! All hell broke loose in episode 4 when America Gopie accused someone of stealing her diary. According to her, there was sensitive material in the secret journal, including a photo of her ex-boyfriend and a letter that he’d written her. However, not even America’s fluttering eyelashes could convince Lee that she was telling the truth after he quizzed her on the missing diary.

8. Trouble in paradise

Not willing to let the diary drama go during a double date with Kelly and America in episode 6, Lee probed more and more until he was satisfied with the answer. His solution? A head-turning declaration “I get the feeling that I can’t trust you” – to both of the ladies who were summarily dumped out the Bachelor Mansion. To this day, the diary thief remains at large…

9. Songs of love

The ladies – and music-loving viewers at home – were in for a treat in episode 7 when British singer Calum Scott dropped into the Bachelor Mansion to serenade the remaining contestants and hand-deliver their next date card. Ah, sweet!

10. Meet the family

The most nightmarish part of dating is meeting your lady’s family – and that was left for almost-last for Lee. In episode 10, he pulled out all the stops to win over Jozaan Digue’s family. The Prince Charming received a warm welcome, but the one that’ll get you gushing is when he bonds with a new baby in the family. “I love kids and can’t wait to have as many as possible,” says Lee. All together – awwwwwwww!

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