Suffolk’s Ched on life after Love Island and dealing with online trolls
- Credit: ITV
The scaffolder reveals he was scouted multiple times by ITV and says it was the “experience of a lifetime”. But what’s next for Ched Uzor and how is his hometown of Bury St Edmunds getting behind him?
“It was mad you know,” laughed Ched, a phrase which often came out of the Suffolk star’s mouth whilst he was on our TV screens this winter.
“The support has been overwhelming and it’s honestly a blessing to have even been on the show to be honest,” he praised.
The 23-year-old, originally a scaffolder from Bury, was injected into the villa with the Casa Amor boys in week three – before battling it out with Scottish man Biggs to win the heart of Cambridge-born Jess.
Ched then went onto reach the final with the help of the public’s support, where he and partner Jess came fourth, shortly behind Demi and Luke M in third, Siannise and Luke T came second and the series six winners were the nation’s favourites, Paige and Finn.
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Among Ched’s villa highlights was when he became a trending meme on social media after stumbling over his words as he tried to chat up Jess – with one Twitter user joking he would “tell his grandchildren this was Shakespeare”.
So what was villa life really like for Ched?
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“Obviously when you watch it on TV it’s mad, but then when you are actually in there you don’t feel like you are really there,” said Ched, who was a student at County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds.
Ched was approached to go on the show for the two previous series, but turned it down at the time due to being in a committed relationship.
Once he got the phone call this year, Ched says he had just 24 hours before being sent off to South Africa – “just enough time for a trim” and to pack his bags.
He says the whole experience has been “surreal” and the support – especially from his home county of Suffolk – has been overwhelming.
“It was an experience of a lifetime,” he said. “It was also incredible when I came out and saw that everyone in Bury was supporting me. I never expected people to vote for me.”
Despite not watching the episodes back, Ched said it is “weird” to see his face all over social media and people making memes out of him, but he has no regrets about his villa experience.
“I don’t think I’m famous,” laughed Ched, who had been back and forth between meetings in London all day before he caught up with us. “I’m just a normal human being at the end of the day.”
So how is he dealing with life outside the villa?
When Ched returned home in February he said he struggled as he lost the structure to his life.
Now, Ched is hoping to carry on with all his fitness stuff on Instagram, collaborating with brands, doing campaigns and says he “just wants to do it all”.
But as a result of being on the show, Ched, like many other Islanders, has had to deal with some hate and negative comments from online trolls.
He said: “There’s been some banter online about me when I stuttered with Jess, but everyone stutters it’s normal.
“A lot of these things could get to you but you’ve just got to look at it as a joke. Just laugh with it, as it could be a lot worse.”
Ched says he is staying grounded and “doesn’t feel famous”, despite having more than 300,000 followers on Instagram and working for brands such as I Saw It First.
When asked about social media trolls the fitness fanatic said you can’t take it to heart.
“The trolls are not happy with their own life, so they will attack you,” he said. “But you don’t know them and they don’t know you, so just don’t read the messages or turn off the comments if you don’t want any negativity or jealousy.”
What’s next for Ched?
Before entering the villa he was a scaffolder in Bury, but since he’s been home Ched has spent most of his time in London with Jess – who he is still yet to make it official with.
“I’ve been in London more than I’ve been at home, but when I do go back to Bury there’s people I haven’t spoken to in years who are congratulating me,” he said. “It’s been nothing but positive.”
Ched is hoping to move to London by the end of the year and says he and Jess are “just seeing how it goes” and are not rushing into anything.
When asked about his relationship with Jess’ identical twin sister Eve, who also starred in the first ever winter Love Island, Ched said he “becomes the third wheel”.
He laughed: “The three of us all go out for dinner, but really I am just the camera man.”