“I wasn’t interested in sitting in maths exams, I couldn’t even hold a pen properly,” explains Joey Essex on A-level results day across Britain. “I couldn’t write and I couldn’t really read that well. For me, travelling is a much better way of learning.”
The TOWIE star has just come back from travelling the world, as part of his ITV show Educating Joey Essex. The first show saw him visit South Africa and Uganda to learn about nature, the second to Brazil to learn about football, and the third part (due to air on ITV this month) will see him visit America and learn about UFOs.
“[Travelling] is more interesting, you can walk about and see things instead of sitting in a classroom,” says the star, who got a taste for far-flung destinations during his time in the Australian jungle as part of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here, in 2013.
Known for his incredible innocence and the severe gaps in his general knowledge (he never learnt to tell the time), Joey explains that he has no regrets in not getting any A-levels. “I don’t have any regrets at all, I tried my hardest in school, I just didn’t succeed. When I didn’t get good grades I didn’t think the world was over, I just kept on moving and looking for other things to do.”
Joey sat his GCSEs twice in an attempt to get into sixth form college. “I do think [A-levels] are really important, I tried my hardest,” he says. “I did something that no one else had done in my whole school, I actually did my GCSEs again and I didn’t get anywhere. I think that everyone should try their best, and I did try my best. I think it is important to try your hardest in school, listen and do what you can.”
Now, after a successful TV career, even the leader of the Labour Party is asking Joey for help with his campaign. “Ed Miliband keeps asking me for my number,” explains Joey. “He’s invited me to his house a few times. I think he wants me as an ambassador, because I’ll bring young people to his crib, his crew – The Labour Party.”
Joey explains that a hard work ethic is something that’s got him to where he is now. “The day I finished school, after my second lot of GCSEs, I never stopped looking for a job. I had job after job and got sacked, then I went and looked for another job and got sacked. I had about 13 jobs within three years. I wasn’t good at any of them. I’m just not academically clever.
“I had three stock market jobs in the city and I was learning about trading, but I wasn’t good at it. I ended up promoting, which you don’t really need to be brainy to do; you just need to know loads of people. I also worked in a fish market as well, before I joined TOWIE.”
Joey has now had a string of business ventures, including a hair product range, a CD and autobiography, but one of his most notable achievements is joining the Child Bereavement UK charity. “It’s for people like me who lost their parents when they were young.”
Kate and William are also ambassadors of the charity, and Joey hopes to be mingling with the likes of Royalty next. “I might actually get to meet the Royals,” he says, “that would be sweet… I think Kate would like me.”