Tans, tension and tantrums are essential elements of every instalment of The Only Way Is Essex. No episode is complete without a cast member sporting an even darker shade of mahogany, staring hatefully across the room or storming out of the building. So what happens on a night out without the cameras rolling? In the absence of a director telling them what to do, cue cards telling them what to say and story-arc writers telling them what’s going on, how do the cast of TOWIE cope? And are their lives really as dramatic as they appear on screen?
That is what I endeavoured to discover on a night out with some of the cast members. A karaoke filled night out, no less. It probably comes as no surprise that the majority of the TOWIE cast like the sound of their own voices. Teetering in on sky high Louboutin heels, skin tight jeans and a deep mahogany midriff baring little top, new cast member Danielle confirms, “everyone in the cast is always singing. They all fancy themselves… Fern is always singing, Tom wouldn’t shut up the other day during filming…”
“They’re all waiting for that record contract!” chimes in boyfriend James Lock, “or a part in TOWIE the musical. By the way I won’t be singing.”
“Oh come on babe, you’re really good,” encourages Danielle, before digging out her phone and showing us a photo. “James thought we were going to The Box – the Soho nightclub – it was only when we walked in that he realised we were in The Karaoke Box. This is what he looked like when he found out.” (No moment of these people’s lives goes undocumented – the highs, the lows, the bitter disappointments.) He spends the next hour silently writhing in the corner, before eventually walking out and announcing that he’d had enough and is going to sit in Nandos down the road on his own. Danielle frets. James eventually returns. After a disastrous attempt to lure him to the microphone with a Grease medley Danielle relents and the they go home.
At the other end of the room Bobby Norris and aspiring pop-star Jess Wright are whispering into each others’ ears and staring at Jasmine Walia, TOWIE’s resident extrovert flirt. She’s the first on the microphone and actually has a beautiful voice – faithful TOWIE viewers will recall that she first appeared on the series auditioning to be in Jess’ girlband. She didn’t make the cut. After a few drinks the tussle for the microphone begins as the girls attempt to – actually pretty impressively – out-sing each other.
Tans – check. Tension – check. Tantrums – check. Their real lives really aren’t far off their portrayal on screen – what a fantastic night! A couple of bottles of white wine later and all grudges are forgiven. With Jasmine gripping one mic and Jess the other, the two belt out ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ while the rest of us sway arm in arm in the background. No story-arc writers required.