‘Mike Thalassitis’ death was sad but pressures of reality TV can get you down’, says Joey Essex

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JOEY ESSEX understands just how tough life can become after leaving a fly- on-the-wall reality show.

It is more than five years since his own stint in Towie but in this candid interview he tells how he still wears elaborate disguises to avoid being recognised, dodges busy shops and struggles to date “normal” girls.

Joey Essex insists he would never change his life despite being able to relate to the pressures felt by reality TV stars
Stewart Williams – The Sun

Joey Essex insists he would never change his life despite being able to relate to the pressures felt by reality TV stars[/caption]

And Joey says he can completely relate to the pressures felt by today’s reality TV stars such as Love Island’s Mike Thalassitis, who took his own life last month aged just 26.

Even so, he insists he would never change his life as a regular face on TV. In an exclusive interview, he said: “I knew Mike well, I went to his funeral. He was a lovely boy.

“It was absolutely tragic and so sad. The pressure of being on reality TV is not easy. It can get you down.

“I got famous when I was 20 and It’s really tough. Everyone thinks they know everything about you.

Joey knew Mike Thalassitis well, calling his death absolutely tragic
The reality star knew Mike Thalassitis well, calling his death ‘absolutely tragic’

You're Not Alone: Where to seek help if you need it

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123

“You are expressing your life to everyone. Everyone knows your full name, your previous girlfriend, who they are. It’s quite hard to know whether a girl likes you for who you are or if she genuinely likes you.

“I go out dressed like a robber, with a cap over my eyes and sunglasses on. I go to ridiculous lengths to not get spotted. I just want to live my life and be me.”

But Joey, 28, has worked hard in recent months to overcome his fears and says he feels less paranoid as he has come to terms with the fact that it is part of the job.

Now he wants to find love with the perfect woman and settle down — with FOUR kids. Appropriately he has signed up to host this summer’s Dating Show Live at Birmingham’s NEC.

Joey with his Towie co-stars in 2008
Rex Features

Joey with his Towie co-stars in 2008[/caption]

It was 2011 when Joey found instant fame on Towie with catchphrases such as “Reem”.

Fans watched his on-off relationship with screen pal Sam Faiers as they got engaged in front of the cameras, only to split in 2013. But Joey confirmed that what happened on screen didn’t always accurately reflect what went on in the real world.

He said: “Reality TV fast-forwards things quite a lot. Sometimes you are not ready for it. You have to wear your heart on your sleeve.

“Lots of times relationships happened because of reality TV, and they ended as soon as the cameras were off. It’s like Love Island.

The 28-year-olds on-off relationship with Sam Faiers ended in 2013
Bare Media

The 28-year-old’s on-off relationship with Sam Faiers ended in 2013[/caption]

“Filming makes people make rash decisions because you think you need to make good TV.

“When we were on Towie everyone had someone they had feelings for. That’s what those shows are about — relationships, you have to do it.

“Everyone in the reality TV industry feels the pressure because you have to live up to the person people see on TV. It can get you down.”

He added: “Now, I’m better when a date is being filmed than when I’m going on a real one. When I’m without the cameras I get paranoid about being seen — I want the privacy.

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“I would say 75 per cent of the women I’ve dated are in reality TV, actors or singers. I’ll meet girls and they’ll talk to me as if they’ve known me for ten years because they’ve seen me on TV. People who are not famous don’t always understand.”

In the wake of Mike’s death, other former reality TV regulars have spoken about the lack of support given to them on shows such as Towie.

But Joey, who left the show shortly after appearing on I’m A Celebrity in 2013, said: “On Towie there was always a lady I could speak to if I was upset about stuff.

“I was living my life on TV and there were always times when I was a bit down. I would rather get one of my mates round and talk to him. That’s how I dealt with it.”

Joey left Towie shortly after appearing on Im A Celebrity in 2013
Handout

Joey left Towie shortly after appearing on I’m A Celebrity in 2013[/caption]

But he said the pressures of fame remained for years after quitting Towie.

Joey added: “Sometimes the attention gets too much. I once did a book signing and I found it overwhelming. There were thousands of people there and I got back in the car and couldn’t even talk to anyone. It felt that nobody knew who I was.

“To them I was just this famous kid. No one knew the real me. This week I wanted something to eat. I drove past the Co-op and there were loads of people outside.

“So I drove another ten minutes down the road to another shop where it was quieter, where I could get in and out quicker without people asking me for pictures.”

The Towie star says he has had to work hard to overcome his fears about living in the public eye
Stewart Williams – The Sun

The Towie star says he has had to work hard to overcome his fears about living in the public eye[/caption]

Since leaving Towie Joey has not been short of TV work. He has appeared in The Jump, Celebs Go Dating, The Chase and The Crystal Maze and hosted Just Tattoo Of Us.

He has just moved into a £1.6million, six-bedroom home in Essex, with a pool and a Jacuzzi in the garden and has just bought five palm trees to make it feel “like a holiday resort”.

But he said: “Money definitely doesn’t buy you happiness. I was just as happy when all I had in the world was £10 as I am now when I’ve got cars, watches, houses, all I ever wanted. People think money will make them happier, but it doesn’t.

“It would be nice to have someone to share it with. I live in a huge house on my own, it’s ridiculous. I can leave my house for weeks or maybe even a month without tidying up. I don’t have a cleaner. I’ll have a date and be bringing a girl round and I’ll just blitz the place until it’s fresh. I’ll even clean the bath.”

He's dumb-thing else

JOEY gained an army of fans with his hilariously dumb quotes on TV. Here we recap his, er, best . . .

  • “I’m used to digital clocks where you just look at the numbers on your phone. I don’t understand these round arrow clocks.’’
  • When asked which country borders Wales: “I really don’t know. I’ll guess . . . Russia?”
  • “Do you ever look in the mirror and think, ‘I haven’t seen myself in ages’?”
  • “When’s Christmas? The 24th or the 25th?’’
  • On hearing Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament: “What is that? Is that the alarm clock?”
  • “I don’t know how to blow my nose properly.”

Joey dated Made In Chelsea’s Stephanie Pratt in 2016 but they split after a couple of months.

His last romance was with Love Island’s Ellie Brown, 21, who he began dating just before Christmas last year, but split from when he decided he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship.

He said: “We were quite casual. I didn’t want to get myself into a serious thing where I was upsetting someone again. I wasn’t sure if I could commit.

“She knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship. She’s my mate now.”

Joey is now ready to settle down and find love with the perfect woman
Stewart Williams – The Sun

Joey is now ready to settle down and find love with the perfect woman[/caption]

He added: “There’s been some horror dates. I once picked up a girl I’d arranged to meet and when she got in my car I realised it was the wrong girl. I didn’t know what to do. I drove her to a TGI Friday round the corner, ordered a starter then drove her home 15 minutes later.”

In June Joey will play host to tens of thousands of singletons at the NEC as they try to find love. Around 10,000 hopefuls will come together for the Dating Show Live event, at bars, speed dating sessions and pop-up restaurants.

He said: “It’s going to be crazy ­seeing so many people hooking up. I might find someone, you never know.”

Joey, who once claimed he couldn’t tell the time and said he thought Russia bordered Wales, insisted he is not the “silly boy” that was portrayed on TV.

Joey insists he is not the silly boy that was portrayed on TV
Stewart Williams – The Sun

Joey insists he is not the ‘silly boy’ that was portrayed on TV[/caption]


He added: “People think I’m stupid or thick. I’m the complete opposite. I’m not all silly catchphrases. I like watching David Attenborough.”

As for his dream partner, Joey said: “I’m really picky. My ideal girl is either a brunette or a blonde, with blue, green or brown eyes.”

But one thing he is sure on is the perfect night in to charm any potential suitors. He said: “I’m a good cook so I’ll cook fish and vegetables or something. We’ll have a chill and then we’ll get in the Jacuzzi.”

You're Not Alone: Where to seek help if you need it

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123

  • Joey is hosting the Dating Show Live at Birmingham’s NEC from June 29 to 30. For tickets see thedatingshowlive.com.

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