Comic Susan Murray loves the cheers and applause she receives at the end of her shows. But when she leaves the stage, she's alone and, she admits, a little bit lonesome.Ms Murray, 36, is one of the millions in Britain who are single but don't want to be. "The life of a stand-up comedian just renders you being single," Ms Murray says.She has plenty of friends but she wants that someone special in her life. "You're just busy working, working, working all the time, and I never meet people at work.
That is a figure which has grown dramatically in the last few decades.
Divorce rates have rocketed and, with today's busy working lives, there is little time left to search for a soul-mate.
Since the 1960s, the number of people with no-one to go home to has quadrupled.
But where there is a problem, there is always a business to sell you a solution.
According to recent surveys, no less than two thirds of single people looking for love have signed up to dating agencies.
Making money There have always been matchmakers, according to Karen Mooney, who runs Sara Eden Introductions, a dating agency for professionals based in London's West End.She cites the machinations of characters in Jane Austen novels, desperate to fix up relatives with "suitable" suitors.In the 1930s, marriage agencies sprang up to send out English wives to colonials, starved of the company of their female compatriots in far flung outposts of empire.The 1960s saw the advent of Dateline which used primitive personality testing to pair people up.Ms Mooney started up her agency, Sara Eden, in the 1980s, when many were too busy making dosh to make love.Sara Eden is a small, traditional and select agency, which matches people through personal introductions and charges between 700 and 5,000 depending on the level of attention required.