Video: Anger at new ‘Essex’ TV show

A NEW TV show that plays up to the Essex stereotype has been criticised by those who are trying to boost the county’s image.

The Only Way is Essex, set in the south of the county, focuses on a group of very tanned friends whose lives centre around making themselves look good, dating and dancing in popular nightclubs.

The ITV show has attracted much attention from bloggers, many of whom feel aggrieved at the negative depiction of their county.

Mandie Holgate, 37, founder of Business Woman’s Network, which meets at several locations around East Anglia, including Lexden Wood Golf Club, in Colchester, believes the show has devastated attempts to shake off the ‘Essex girl’ stereotype.

Mrs Holgate said: “We have spent all this time building up the image of woman in Essex being incredibly intelligent, passionate and driven and now it has been ruined by this one programme.

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“It has done nothing for the confidence of businesswomen in Essex. I don’t want to think about how many years this has set us back.

“Why are they picking on Essex?”

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She added: “Personally, for me, I don’t see a great deal of entertainment value in the show but there has been a lot of talk about it so it must be of value to someone.

“I hope people don’t think it is all about expensive clubs and nail bars.”

Mrs Holgate highlighted the fact Essex has a thriving business community, expanses of beautiful countryside, quintessential fishing villages and is on the doorstep of the capital.

She added: “Sadly, the people who are watching this show will probably believe that is exactly how Essex is. They will believe every second of it.”

The first three shows have been heavily dominated by events at the newly reopened Sugar Hut, in Brentwood High Street.

Several of the characters were chosen by producers after being spotted partying at the venue, which is a favourite with Pixie Lott and Jodie Marsh.

Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, councillor Louise McKinlay, said of the coverage: “Essex is very diverse; it is what makes it so unique and the people so interesting.

“I am sure many residents will identify with the people in the show and there will be many who will not. Personally, I don’t.

“Essex people are ambitious, entrepreneurial and like to have fun. I don’t take the stereotype too seriously and these are real people who you would find anywhere in England, not just Essex.”

The Only Way is Essex is screened on Sundays and Wednesdays on ITV2.

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