Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree fell head over heels for one another, but they hit a major stumbling block which could no longer be ignored.
And Dick was too afraid to ask his new love how old he was in case the answer ruined everything.
Escape To The Chateau may never have existed had Angel decided to listen to Dick when he begged her to leave him.
The couple, who are documenting the renovation of their 45-room French chateau on Channel 4, first met at a 40th birthday party she was hosting in 2010.
Their shared agent decided to put the pair together because of their shared ambitions and work ethic, but it may have seemed like a bad match at first as they hardly spoke at all that night.
But former British Army lieutenant-colonel Dick spotted interior designer Angel and was immediately taken by the red-haired beauty.
“The first thing I saw when I met Angel – I call her Angela – was her smile. It’s phenomenal,” he told The Times. “We barely spoke that night, but we knew that there was something at first sight. And we fell in love very quickly.”
Before meeting Angel, Dick has been single for six years after splitting from first wife Brigit Strawbridge, who is the mother of his kids James and Charlotte.
Dick and Angel started seeing each other over long distance – with Dick based in Cornwall while Angel was in London – and The Hungry Sailors star showered her with thoughtful presents.
Realising she had a taste for vintage, Dick sourced special gifts such as feather fascinators and old-fashioned peg sets to hang up stockings.
But there was one question hanging over his head, as Dick, now 61, was scared to ask Angel, now 42, how old she was in case it derailed their relationship.
“I was over 50 when I met Angel, and I didn’t ask her age because that was a scary thing to do,” he told the Daily Mail.
Do you dream of selling up and buying a chateau like Dick and Angel? Share your thoughts in the comments section below…
Despite their powerful connection and amazing chemistry, Dick feared there could be no long-term future with a nearly 20-year age gap between them.
So he selflessly begged Angel to leave him and find a younger man she could start a family with.
He told the Times: “After spending Christmas together we knew we had to have the conversation. I said: ‘Damn, girl, this is wonderful, but we really have to think about ending this.'”
In a separate interview, he explained how he thought it would be the best decision for Angel.
“Angel and I had our fun, then I told her it was time for her find a young man, have children, because I felt I shouldn’t keep her from that,” he told You Magazine.
However, Angel was not concerned by his age and had other ideas.
Dick continued: “And what she said, bloody woman, was that she actually wanted me.”
“What she said, bloody woman, was that she actually wanted me,” Dick continued, admitting it made him realise, “you’re a long time dead. Why wouldn’t you just jump in and live life?”
Angel was in awe of her man and never had any doubt about whether their age gap would be an issue.
“It [the age gap] just didn’t matter. I didn’t think about it really,” she previously told The Sun.
“Age is but a number, and Dick’s always had a really wonderful energy and he’s a doer.
“He is just so passionate about life. Everything Dick has done in his life, he’s got the most out of it. I just love that about him.”
Angel was so serious about starting a family that she set Dick a deadline when they were 16 months into their relationship.
She cheekily gave him a calendar with the words ‘impregnate me by this date’ written down so he would not forget.
Dick certainly rose to the challenge as he beat the target date by seven months, welcoming son Arthur, seven, followed by Dorothy, six.
The family’s lives changed forever when they swapped their two-bed home in east London for a dilapidated 45-room chateau in France’s Pays de la Loire region.
The moated property cost just £280,000 after falling into disrepair and has since been transformed into a lavish wedding venue, which commands fees of up to £38,000 a time.
So it was the perfect place for Dick and Angel to tie the knot, free of charge of course, when they got married in November 2015.
Their big day featured in the first series of their Channel 4 show and was celebrated by their kids and some 200 guests.
Renovating the property, which is now valued at £2million, has been hard work and Dick had to be “brutal” with his wife over the property development.
He told The Express : “I really had to be quite brutal and say ‘what has to be done’ as to rather ‘ what would you like to have done’.
“The must-dos are getting a cloak room at this level, because if you come to our house and want to go to the loo, you can either go to a shed or up several flights of stairs.
“We have to do the must-dos first,” he added.
Due to the popularity of their series, Dick and Angel have some horror stories about nosey guests taking advantage.
Despite claiming they are definitely not a “celebrity couple” in their own eyes, their home is flooded with tourists eager to see inside.
They did not want to embrace the world of celebrity but knew that the TV series would give them some level of fame, so didn’t allow the show to be shown in France in case the amount of visitors go through the roof.
The couple have had to get tough with some visitors who “over-stepped the mark” on several occasions leading to them being asked to leave because of an issue of safety”.
“If the kids are outside playing, no one would want strangers coming on to their land,” said Angel.
“And then sometimes we are doing really silly things like wearing a floppy unicorn hat on the trampoline, and you do want a bit of privacy!”
There was even one incident when a family decided to have a look around the private rooms in the chateau, but the couple are never rude to anyone who turns up and politely ask them to leave if they misbehave.
They won’t be moving anytime soon – as even the thought of leaving the chateau hurts Dick’s head.
“I’ve got no intention of going anywhere,” Dick said to Hello! Magazine.
“I’m going to be planted here. I get a headache even thinking about moving.”
The couple’s young children already have plans for their home – with Arthur wanting to turn the orangery into his own restaurant.
Angel explained: “He’s a real gourmand and has even started his own branding,” adding their daughter has her eyes on something else.
“Dorothy wants one of the outbuildings, which will be very modern and contemporary. I’m allowed to babysit the two children she’s going to have.”
*Escape to the Chateau airs tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm