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Author (Amanda Green), Blogger, Life Writing Workshop coach, BACP Counsellor Dip., Aerial Photographer and Orangutan, Animal and Mental Health campaigner in Essex

‘The only way is Essex’ new TV programme on ITV2 – Essex girls & boys!

I was very wary about watching this new ITV2 programme (‘The only way is Essex’), as I had heard a few derogatory comments previously, particularly from fellow Essex residents, and I only hoped that it didn’t shame our wonderful County.

Having watched the first hour, listening to Essex accents as bad as they can be, swearing, fake boobs and tans and generally materialistic behaviour, I then looked at where it is filmed – Brentwood.

Like any County, there are good, bad and indifferent parts, and that could be down to a Town or even just a particular road. With this in mind, I re-looked at this soap and actually quite enjoyed it. Brentwood is situated near London, and generally has many an affluent resident, along with a few celebrities, being associated with the likes of Frank Bruno, Steve Davis, Russell Brand, Pixie Lott, Frank Lampard, Bill Murray, Jonty Hearnden and Jodie Marsh, amongst many others…….. It is quite an upbeat place and offers shopping and a good night out for all, from dining, to drinking, to partying.  This programme does not show the vast miriad of people who live here in Essex, but there are certainly plenty of people like those on the show here too – like many other places, I hasten to add.

I don’t usually watch much soap opera or trash TV, apart from the odd episode of Eastenders, and I am sure that is not a great example of life in the East end – there cannot really be so many murders, deaths and deceit in one small area can there? 🙂

Taking Essex, acting skills and the loose, simplistic storyline out of ‘The only way is Essex’ and what I see is an easy to watch programme of some Essex people, so I quite like it in a way. It covers friendships and relationships. That is not to say that they are a typical example of Essex people – the stereotype. They are not. They are an example of young Brentwood, Essex people, who are all working in various jobs, enough money to go out and enjoy themselves and they do have that fairly typical Essex trait of being materialistic. OK, so Jodie Marsh did come from Brentwood, and there are some similarities, although one character more close to a ‘Jordan/Katie Price’ look a like, don’t you think? Amy, maybe…

If they spoke in a different accent, then I don’t think you would have to change much else to get away with it being in Liverpool or Manchester for example. What I mean is that, there is not a clear cut Essex image anymore, particularly for the younger residents, so there is nothing to get fed up about, with this programme or the Essex stigma.. The programme is not portraying anything but a group of young people in today’s lifestyle, so there is nothing to get upset about. I am not saying that I hear swearing everywhere in the UK that I go, but a good portion of people swear, and I don’t blame them, since life itself, heath risks and the Government give us plenty to get annoyed about. That all said, I would rather not hear them swearing in this programme, as it sounds crass and doesn’t add anything to the theme.

I am surprised, however, that Denise Van Outen has chosen to be a part of this programme, as narrator, as I thought she was now more affiliated with ‘more class’ than a programme of this sort, but each to their own – at least she is from Essex and she has been a great role model for our County’s young women, and as a face of Essex.

I have had fun in my life as an Essex girl in the 80’s, and I can understand, does have its stigma and is where the ‘Essex girl’ was born.

I am proud to be Essex and I continue to stand up for Essex people against certain stigmas, but I don’t think this programme is a major issue – its cheap, smutty entertainment in some ways, but entertaining all the same, if you take it for what it is! I think those who are getting upset about it should get over it and concentrate on something else more worthy! 

People have slammed the charaters as all being ‘dumb’ but at least they have all got jobs and are earning what appears to be a good living eh!  Perhaps look at it that way, and you will see that this is not as derogatory as it could be!    And why is everyone so ‘ashamed’ of this type of person anyway – maybe they should enjoy thair fellow human beings that live on their doorstep whether they like it or not!  Crime and harming others is one thing, but just having a way of life doesnt harm anyone does it?

I havent heard an Essex girl joke in years, or had my Essex roots joked about for years when I meet people.  The ‘Essex girl’ stigma died out years ago and too much moaning and arguing the facts are only going to keep the Essex girl in the limelight.  I dont mind too much, as it will only help my book sales when it is published, so carry on!

It certainly doesn’t offend me, and I am a true Essex girl with values 🙂

ps, When I found out Amy was to be taken to the Zoo, I could only hope that it would be Colchester, and to see footage of Rajang in the background and there he was in the last episode!  I was so pleased to see my favourite animal in the whole world – Rajang the 41 year old Oran-utan.  I frequently go to Colchester Zoo to see him, take pictures and video him.  So, thanks to the programme for that – it made my day!  (if you like Oran-utan too, please see my campaign on this website or my other site at www.orangehairyape.com )

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