The Only Way Is Essex

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"TOWIE" redirects here. For the hamlet in Aberdeenshire, see Towie.
The Only Way Is Essex
Towie opening title.png
Genre Reality television
Created by Ruth Wrigley
Tony Wood
Starring See below
Narrated by Denise van Outen
Opening theme "The Only Way Is Up" by Yazz
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 14
No. of episodes 170 (as of 5 April 2015) (list of episodes)
Running time 30 mins (series 1)
45 mins (series 2–7)
50 mins (series 8–)
60 mins (specials)
Production company(s) Lime Pictures
Distributor All3Media
Original channel ITVBe (2014–)
ITV2 (2010–14)
Original release 10 October 2010 (2010-10-10) – present
Related shows It's All About Amy
Mark Wright's Hollywood Nights
Made in Chelsea
Desperate Scousewives
Taking New York
The Hills
Geordie Shore
The Valleys
Jersey Shore
The Real Housewives of Cheshire
Desi Rascals
External links

The Only Way Is Essex (often abbreviated as TOWIE) is a BAFTA award-winning "scripted reality" television soap opera based in Essex, England. It shows "real people in modified situations, saying unscripted lines but in a structured way."[1] The show is filmed just a few days in advance. It is narrated by Denise van Outen, who is from Basildon, Essex. The show has been described as Britain's answer to The Hills and Jersey Shore.[2]

Each series lasts six weeks, airing on Wednesdays and Sundays at 10pm on ITV2 from 2010 to 2014, although it was announced in February 2014 that the show would be moved to ITV2's sister channel ITVBe when the channel launches.[3] The first series consisted of 10 episodes and ran for 30 minutes, with a Christmas special following later in the year. Due to popularity, the show was extended to 5-minute episodes and renewed for a year's airing. On 22 May 2011, the series won the Audience Award at the 2011 BAFTA Awards. The twelfth series was the last to air on ITV2 before the show moved to ITVBe in October 2014.


Series 1 began airing on 10 October 2010 and concluded on 10 November 2010, consisting of 10 episodes. Due to the success of the series, a Christmas special aired the same year on 24 December 2010. This series was heavily centred around the love triangle of Mark Wright, Lauren Goodger, and Lucy Mecklenburgh. Five of the main members of the cast appeared on Alan Carr: Chatty Man on 21 February 2011 to discuss the first series and also confirmed a second series.

Series 2 began airing on 20 March 2011 and concluded on 4 May 2011. Due to the popularity of the first series, the second series consisted of 14 episodes. Before the series aired, the cast filmed a four-minute music video that was screened on ITV2; dance duo LMFAO remixed their hit single "I'm in Miami Bitch" and replaced it with "I'm in Essex Girl". This series saw the departure of Amy Childs off screen and introduced new characters Joey Essex and Gemma Collins.

Series 3 began airing on 24 September 2011 and concluded on 9 November 2011, consisting of 14 episodes. This series saw the departures of original cast members Mark Wright, Harry Derbridge and Kirk Norcross. A second Christmas special aired on 20 December. The cast of the third series (excluding Wright and Norcross) covered the Wham! single "Last Christmas"; the official video premiered on ITV2 in November and the single peaked at number 32 on the UK Singles Chart. The cast for series 4 was officially announced on 24 January with the announcement that Maria Fowler and Harry Derbidge would not be returning.[4] On 25 January the show was nominated for "Most Popular Reality Programme" at the National Television Awards. Series 4 returned on 29 January 2012 and ended on 29 February. Series 5 began airing 15 April and yet again ran for 10 episodes concluding on 27 May 2012. An hour-long special entitled The Only Way Is Marbs, set in the holiday destination of Marbella, aired on 13 June 2012.[5] Tinchy Stryder made a guest appearance in the episode. Series 6 started airing from 22 July and concluded on 22 August.

Lauren Goodger confirmed that she would depart in the final episode of series 6 as she wanted to pursue other things. Her final appearance was shown in the finale of series 6. Kirk Norcross returned in series 7 after departing in series 3, making him the first cast member to return to the show. The series was renewed for two further series in August 2012, set to air sometime in 2013.[6] On 13 November 2012 it was confirmed that three festive specials would air in December including a live episode, a first for the show. Sam Faiers later tweeted "I'm really excited but so so nervous! It's going to be an amazing experience. Who knows what will happen... especially in Essex!" The live episode was met with numerous negative reviews, with Digital Spy commenting that it just didn't work and was complete car crash TV with it not making much sense. On 14 December 2012 it was confirmed that former cast member Mark Wright would return for a cameo appearance in the 2012 Christmas special, Wright confirmed this speaking to The Sun saying "Arg is a bit down right now, so I'm doing this for him. I know how excited he will be. It should be great fun and I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends." Original cast member Lydia Bright, Tom Kilbey, and Cara Kilbey all left after this series. The seventh series started airing from 30 September 2012 with all of the cast from the previous series returning (apart from Goodger) and original cast member Kirk Norcross returning to the series after departing in series 3.[7] An eighth and ninth series was confirmed shortly after to be aired in 2013. On 13 November 2012, it was confirmed that three festive specials would air in December including a live episode, a first for any reality show. The specials aired from 3–19 December. On 19 December during the Christmas special, Lydia Bright announced that she was leaving the series.

In February 2013 it was confirmed that a film adaptation of the show would be made and would be set in Dubai, with filming starting in the summer of 2013.[8] Series 8 started airing from 24 February 2013 and saw the introduction of several new supporting cast members. The series saw the departures of numerous long serving cast members such as Kirk Norcross, Debbie Douglas and Mick Norcross, who all announced their departures mid-way through the series.[9][10] An advert released on 22 May 2013 on ITV confirmed that Series 9 would begin with a The Only Way Is Marbs special, with regular episodes airing from 2 June 2013.[11] xed from the show as well that Gary Lineker's brother, Wayne Lineker had joined the cast.[12] The tenth series began with two Vegas specials on 6–9 October 2013.

Series 8, the first of 2013, began airing on 24 February. On 23 February, the day before the premiere of the first episode, it was reported that Lucy Mecklenburgh and Mario Falcone had split for a second time due to reports of Falcone cheating with new cast member Amy Broadbent, although the couple have not officially confirmed the reports.[13] The same day the series began, it was reported that Joey Essex and Sam Faiers would make series 8 their last series to appear as they wanted to star in their own reality spin-off series, having filmed a pilot in 2012, although no sources have confirmed.[14] New cast members were officially confirmed on 24 February to be twin sisters Amy and Sally Broadbent. However on 7 March, Mecklenburgh announced on Twitter that Amy had been used by the show create storylines and had been dropped from the cast.[15] Series 9 began with a The Only Way Is Marbs special as confirmed by an advert airing on ITV on 22 May 2013. It was also confirmed that it would begin 2 June 2013.[11] On 24 May 2013 it was revealed that Gary Lineker's brother, Wayne Lineker, had joined the cast.[12] Series 10 began with two-hour long The Only Way Is Vegas specials on 6 and 9 October 2013, as confirmed by ITV Press Centre on 25 September 2013.[16] The regular tenth series followed running from 13 October to 13 November, in the series finale it was confirmed that Joey Essex would make his final appearance.

The eleventh series started airing from 23 February 2014 consisting of 12 episodes. The twelfth series began on 22 June 2014 with two The Only Way Is Marbs specials followed by 10 regular episodes. The thirteenth series, the fist to air on new channel ITVBe, began on 8 October 2014 with two The Only Way Is Ibiza specials, followed by 10 regular episodes. The thirteenth series concluded on 16 November 2014, with the 2014 Christmas special following a month later on 10 December 2014.

The Fourteenth series, began on 22 February 2015 and will consist of twelve episodes. Original cast member Arg returned to the show after his suspension during the thirteenth series.

Year Series Number of Episodes Average viewers Channel
2010 Series 1 10 916,000 ITV2
2011 Series 2 14 1,470,000
Series 3 14 1,720,000
2012 Series 4 10 1,520,000
Series 5 10 1,580,000
Series 6 10 1,270,000
Series 7 10 1,460,000
2013 Series 8 12 1,297,000
Series 9 12 1,348,000
Series 10 12 N/A
2014 Series 11 12 1,568,000
Series 12 12 1,581,000
Series 13 11 1,094,000 ITVBe
2015 Series 14 13 992,000


This is a list of main and supporting cast members currently appearing in the show. From series 1–3, the main cast received star billing in the opening credits and were credited by their first names.

Cast member Series Year
James Argent 1– 2010–
Jess Wright 1– 2010–
Patricia "Nanny Pat" Brooker 1– 2010–
Lydia Bright 1–7, 9, 11– 2010–12, 2013, 2014–
Lauren Pope 1– 2010–
Billie Faiers 1– 2010–
Jasmin Walia 1, 7–14 2010, 2012–2015
Carol Wright 2– 2011–
Debbie Douglas 2–8, 10, 12– 2011–13, 2014–
Chloe Sims 2– 2011–
Frankie Essex 2–10, 14– 2011–13, 2015–
Gemma Collins 2– 2011–
Mario Falcone 3–11, 13– 2011–
James "Diags" Bennewith 4– 2012–
Ricky Rayment 4– 2012–
Bobby-Cole Norris 4– 2012–
Joan Collins 5– 2012–
James "Lockie" Lock 8– 2013–
Ferne McCann 9– 2013–
Elliott Wright 10– 2013–
Lewis Bloor 10– 2013–
Danielle Armstrong 10– 2013–
Fran Parman 11– 2014–
Georgia Kousoulou 11– 2014–
Vas J. Morgan 12– 2014–
Tommy 'Mal' Mallet 13– 2014–
Dan Edgar 14– 2015–
Jake Hall 14– 2015–
Chloe Lewis 14– 2015–

Other appearances[edit]

As well as appearing in The Only Way Is Essex, some of the cast members have competed in other reality TV shows including Celebrity Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Splash!, Dancing on Ice, Celebrity Super Spa, The Jump, Tumble and Strictly Come Dancing.


Controversy and criticism[edit]

The genre of "scripted reality" has attracted much criticism for a lack of authenticity, or indeed outright deception (see article on reality television).

The show has been criticised for its negative and stereotypical representation of Essex, and there have been a number of complaints to ITV2.[17] Some Essex residents felt it was not a true representation of the area and the people that live there.[17][18][19][20][21][22] Kirk Norcross responded to this criticism by saying, "We are all from Essex, so this is Essex. It's not acting. It's not like they've got people from America and said 'Right, act like you think you know where Essex is.' We are Essex people so what you're watching is Essex."[23]

In April 2011, it was reported that Big Brother 8 winner Brian Belo planned on suing the makers of The Only Way Is Essex – claiming they "stole his idea".[24] Belo was in the original pilot of the show – provisionally titled Totally Essex[25] – alongside current stars Mark Wright, Sam Faiers, Kirk Norcross and Amy Childs.[24] Belo plans on suing his former manager and Lime Productions, which makes the show, for lost earnings of up to £100,000 a series.[24] The Sun reported that Belo had spent the previous two years working on an idea for a United Kingdom version of The Hills, with his manager successfully pitching the pilot to Lime Productions.[24] After not making the cast list, Belo believed he might be involved in producing the show, but was "cut" from the production entirely.[24]

Series 1 title card with the original cast members including Mark Wright, Lauren Goodger and Amy Childs (2010)

On 24 October 2011, it was reported that sisters Sam and Billie Faiers had been attacked by a group of girls on a night out: "The sisters were first targeted inside the club when the girls made off with Billie's handbag... When they left, the gang followed them back to Essex." An insider also commented saying "Both Sam and Billie later went to A&E to get checked out. They are fine now, just a bit shocked, although Sam has been left with two black eyes." A video of the attack leaked online a day later.[26] The aftermath of the attack was aired during series 3 episode 10.

In May 2012, it was reported that original cast member Lauren Goodger had fallen out with the show's director for her bad timekeeping on set and her diva demands. Goodger appeared in the first four episodes of series 5, and was suspended from appearing in the show, however on 18 May 2012, it was confirmed that the issues had been resolved and that Goodger would be returning to the programme. Goodger returned in episode 9 and her absence from the show was not mentioned on screen.

On 1 December 2012, it was reported that X Factor finalist Rylan Clark would appear on the TOWIE Live special episode and later return as a full-time cast member in 2013. Mario Falcone reacted to the rumours by saying, "If he comes on Monday's live show, that's fine because it's all for charity, but if he comes on TOWIE as a main character, I'll leave. We hate him. He's a douche bag." Kirk Norcross commented, "I've met Rylan before and he's actually a really nice boy but when people think of Essex they just think of the abbreviation, the 'Shut-up', the 'Oh my god' - that was all Amy Childs and we don't want that."[27] On 3 December, following Falcone and Norcross's comments, Clark pulled out of his one-off appearance for the live episode, later saying: "TOWIE's a great programme and I wish them all the best of luck, but I can’t do the show because I’ve got commitments to the X Factor tour and I’ve got to be in rehearsals. I’ve never met Mario in my life, so I find it very unprofessional and ungentlemanly for him to go around talking about people he hasn’t even met, Anyone who cheats on his girlfriend that much isn’t worth my time."[28]

The live episode was called "an utter car crash"[29] and "possibly the worst TV show ever".[30][31]


The show is filmed just a few days in advance, and is narrated by Denise van Outen, who is from Basildon, Essex. The first series ran initially for four weeks, airing every Wednesday and Sunday. The show has been described by the Daily Mirror as Britain's answer to The Hills and Jersey Shore.[2] Series 2 began on 20 March 2011, once again airing every Wednesday and Sunday, but with longer episodes than Series 1. Series 2 also saw the departure of original cast member Amy Childs. The second series consisted of 14 episodes, ending on 4 May 2011. The series returned for a third series on 25 September 2011 and was the final series to feature two of the original cast members Mark Wright whose departure was seen in the final episode while Kirk Norcross departed off-screen like Childs. The series ended on 9 November 2011.[32] On 2 December 2011, it was revealed that a large amount of the cast would not be returning for the fourth series in 2012 but would feature in the 2011 Christmas Special.[33] The fourth series began in January 2012.

Digital Spy reported that the series had been renewed for a further four series following the Christmas Special and would air four 10-episode runs in 2012.[34] On 11 January it was reported that 12 new characters would be joining the cast.[35]

Fresh Out of Essex[edit]

Fresh Out of Essex was a set of mini online 5–12 minute episodes that were uploaded onto the official website when the series was off air. 35 mini-episodes were uploaded, with two series airing in 2012. The series never returned for 2013.


In December 2011 the show's current cast released a cover of the Wham! classic Last Christmas, with their own unique version of the show's theme song 'The Only Way Is Up' as the single's B-side. The version used on the show, by Yazz, spent five weeks at number one in 1988. All profits from the single go to Text Santa, a major new charity initiative set up by ITV, which aims to raise money and awareness for a group of charities, including Crisis, Samaritans and Great Ormond Street Hospital.[36]

The official video for the single premiered on 1 December at 11 pm on ITV2 and featured Jessica Wright taking lead vocals alongside Lauren and Gemma. The video shows the current cast from series 3 singing in the studio with clips of the Lauren, Mark and Lucy love triangle from series 1. Half of the current cast, including main singers on the single Jessica Wright and James Argent, performed the single on the final episode of the Text Santa TV series.


Single Year Peak chart positions Album
(featuring Joey Essex)
2011 non-album singles
"Last Christmas"
(featuring cast of series 3)
"Dance All Night"
(Jessica Wright)
2012 36 TBA
(Jessica Wright)
2013 TBA non-album single

Joey Essex Presents Essex Anthems[edit]

Joey Essex Presents Essex Anthems is a 60-song compilation album of dance tracks selected by Joey Essex, released on 17 March 2014.[37]

The Only Way Is Marbs – Marbella Sessions[edit]

The Only Way Is Marbs – Marbella Sessions is a 61-song compilation album released 23 June 2014[38] to coincide with the start of series 12 which saw the return of The Only Way Is Marbs. The album is mixed by Lauren Pope.

The Only Way Is Essex – Dance Anthems[edit]

The Only Way Is Essex – Dance Anthems is a 61-song compilation album due to be released 13 October 2014[39] The album is the second to be mixed by Lauren Pope.

DVD releases[edit]

Series Date released No. of episodes No. of discs Special features
The Complete First Series 28 March 2011 11 2 2010 Christmas Special
The Complete Second Series 26 September 2011 14 3 Chapter Selections
The Complete Third Series 20 January 2012 15 3 2011 Christmas Special
The Complete Fourth Series 7 May 2012 10 2 Chapter Selections
The Complete Fifth Series 1 October 2012 11 2 The Only Way Is Marbs Special
The Complete Sixth Series 8 October 2012 10 2 Chapter Selections
The Complete Seventh Series 18 February 2013 11 2 1 episode of 2012 Christmas Special

International broadcasting[edit]

Series 1-9 have been shown in Australia (with official series 10 episodes starting in the first week of March 2014; the prologue to Series 10, The Only Way Is Vegas Pts. 1 & 2 first airing in Australia on 17 and 24 February 2014 respectively) on LifeStyle You channel on Foxtel, and Series 1-4 have been shown in New Zealand on LifeStyle You channel on Sky TV. Series 1–12 are available in the United States on video-on-demand site Hulu. The show airs in Israel on yes Drama. Series 1-5 has been showing in South Africa (June 2013-June 2014).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grace Dent's TV OD - Review, The Guardian, 23 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b Huddson, Polly (10 December 2010). "The Only Way Is Essex: Our guide to the jaw-dropping new TV show". Daily Mirror. 
  3. ^ Jeffrey, Morgan (12 February 2014). "ITV announces new channel ITVBe, exclusive new home of TOWIE". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Eriksen, Alanah (23 January 2012). "There's a new Captain in Essex: Ricky Rayment will be TOWIE's leading man... but he's no Mark Wright". Daily Mail (London). 
  5. ^ "The Only Way Is Marbs pictures see TOWIE stars show off bikini bodies". Metro. 
  6. ^ "TOWIE stars to face axe unless they stop being boring!". TellyMix. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "'The Only Way Is Essex' renewed for four more series". Digital Spy. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Eames, Tom (8 February 2013). "'The Only Way Is Essex' movie to be filmed in Dubai?". Digital Spy. 
  9. ^ Twitter / kirk_official: Jst 2 let every 1 no I have
  10. ^ Twitter / debbietowie: For everyone who has been asking
  11. ^ a b The Only Way is Essex series 9 air date revealed | Radio On 24 May 2013, it was announced that Billi Mucklow, Darrell Privett and Danni Park-Dempsey had all been aTimes
  12. ^ a b Gary Lineker's brother Wayne joins 'The Only Way is Essex' Digital Spy
  13. ^ Sheridan, Emily (23 February 2013). "TOWIE lovebirds Lucy Mecklenburgh and Mario Falcone split AGAIN after he 'cheats with Sugar Hut Honey'". Daily Mail (London). 
  14. ^ Joey Essex and Sam Faiers to quit TOWIE - to be the next Katie Price and Peter Andre - Mirror Online
  15. ^ Twitter / lucy_meck: At the End of the day there
  16. ^ 'The Only Way Is Vegas' date confirmed - The Only Way Is Essex News - Reality TV - Digital Spy
  17. ^ a b "Sam Faiers defends The Only Way Is Essex". Music Rooms. 2010-10-19. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  18. ^ Langley, William (2010-10-17). "The Only Way is Essex: the worst address in England?". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  19. ^ "TV's The Only Way Is Essex slammed as ‘offensive’". Ilford Recorder. 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  20. ^ "ESSEX: ITV2 show The Only Way is Essex could set us back 20 years". This Is Total Essex. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  21. ^ "The Only Way Is Essex was insultingly bad". Metro. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  22. ^ "The Only Way is Essex...?". Alexandra's Complaints of the Day. 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  23. ^ "Only Way is Essex stars: We really do represent our area". London 24. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Brian Belo: Essex was my idea, I’m suing". The Sun (London). 2011-04-15. Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  25. ^ "Brian Belo 'suing Only Way Is Essex makers'". Digital Spy. 2011-04-15. Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  26. ^ "'Only Way Is Essex' Sam Faiers, sister Billie 'attacked by girl gang". Digital Spy. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  27. ^ TOWIE Cast Members In Rylan Quit Threat | The Only Way Is Essex | News | MTV UK
  28. ^ Hannah Hope, "Your Ry-Q is too low for TOWIE: Rylan Clark quits show after Mario jibe", Mirror, 3 December 2012.
  29. ^ Wardle, Hilary (1999-12-31). "TV review: TOWIE Live - the only way is dire". Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  30. ^ 04/12/2012 10:16 GMT Updated: 04/12/2012 12:35 GMT (2012-12-04). "TOWIE Live Review: Panned As The Worst TV Show Ever (TWITTER REACTIONS)". Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  31. ^ Martin, Laura (2012-12-04). "TOWIE Live panned by viewers as the worst piece of TV ever". Mirror. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  32. ^ "Watch the new TWATS trailer - The Only Way Is Essex". Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  33. ^ "'Only Way Is Essex' Sam Faiers, Kirk Norcross, Harry Derbidge axed? - The Only Way Is Essex News - TV". Digital Spy. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  34. ^ Hooton, Christopher (13 November 2011). "TOWIE 'recommissioned for four more series'". Metro. 
  35. ^ "'The Only Way Is Essex': 12 new characters cast?". Digital Spy. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  36. ^ "'Only Way Is Essex' stars confirm Christmas single". Digital Spy. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  37. ^ "Joey Essex Presents Essex Anthems: Music". 
  38. ^ "The Only Way Is Marbs - Marbella Sessions [Box set]". 
  39. ^ "iTunes - Music - The Only Way Is Essex - Dance Anthems by Various Artists". Apple iTunes UK. 

External links[edit]