Reality Bites: Essex gave me TOWIE-itis

RT's reality critic, Stuart Baggs, on his TV-inspired addictions to fake tan and guyliner


As blizzard conditions descended upon the country, I remembered some childhood advice and wrapped up warm to avoid getting ill. Unfortunately, despite my precautions, this week I caught one of the most infectious diseases since the bubonic plague – TOWIE-itis.


While doctors assure me the prognosis isn’t good, I can at least manage the symptoms. These include an unhealthy addiction to fake tan and that most metrosexual of signs, wearing guyliner. Expect, therefore, to shortly see me change my name from Stuart Baggs The Brand to Stuart Baggs The Tanned.

Maybe I just have an addictive personality. After all, it’s happened to me before. One fateful evening as a teenager, I sat unsuspectingly waiting for The Simpsons on BBC2. To fill the time, I watched an Australian soap called Neighbours.
Some nine years and well over 2,000 episodes later, my Sky+ planner is an embarrassing mix of TV shows I’ve featured in and well over 100 old Neighbours episodes. Let’s hope TOWIE doesn’t reach this level of obsession.

It’s certainly an addictive formula. In fact as temperatures plummeted this week, things were just heating up in Essex. Resembling an episode of Jeremy Kyle, more fuel was added to the already blazing inferno that Mario and Lucy call their relationship.

For those unaware of the history, Lucy originally cheated on Mario with Mark Wright (now of jungle fame) and rather than walking away, she convinced Mario to give it another go – first mistake. Mario, either out of revenge or stupidity, then decided to use Facebook to solicit photos of scantily clad ladies – second mistake. Like Christopher Biggins’s attempts at weight loss, sometimes it’s best to give up on something that’s clearly not working.

It reminds me of a story I was told during my stint on The Apprentice. A former candidate, who shall remain nameless and is definitely not Tre Azam, warned us to expect ladies to “throw themselves at you” and “send nude photos via email and Facebook”.

While this may have happened to him and TOWIE’s Mario, I can assure you the most exciting item I received was a box of Ferrero Rocher with a note saying “Merry Christmas Mr Band”.

While we’re on the subject of lady trouble, I couldn’t let this week’s Reality Bites pass without a special mention to Damion Merry or, as you’ll probably know him, the cringiest contestant EVER on ITV’s Take Me Out!

You see, evolution isn’t a fully refined process. Occasionally, human beings with less developed romantic skills do still slip through the net. Luckily for society, however, most individuals like this are rarely given the opportunity to reproduce – or so I’d like to think.

I’d invite you all to watch the video below and see just what can happen when wooing the opposite sex goes wrong:

From one icy reception to another, let’s get stuck into some Dancing on Ice. This week featured a tense skate-off between Sam Nixon – wearing a pair of white curtains – and Charlene Tilton, attempting to get down with the kids by skating to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.

Last week I said that no American has yet managed to win a British reality TV show, and Charlene had what it takes to maintain that record. Unfortunately, it required an exhausting two-and-a-half hours of TV – padded out by a performance from One Direction, and some manufactured jeopardy from host Phillip Schofield – to see this confirmed.

In Jerry Springer fashion, I like to end my column with a bite-sized lesson we can all take away…

I recommend that those who feel a little down during the cold weather avoid the ice and instead enjoy the warm glow that comes from seeing the love lives of others disintegrate on reality shows like TOWIE.

Until next week,

Take care of yourselves, and each other,


Stuart Baggs The Tanned