The Only Way is Essex first polluted the small screen back in October 2010, with a very unconvincing, ‘fly on the wall’ style of ‘structured reality television’. The first time I saw the show, a pot-bellied pig was being walked by two teenagers who had got lost in, what appeared to be their own back garden. Needless to say, I never made it through the whole episode and have failed to endure a full 30 minutes ever since.

If the fully made up faces in scenes where characters are yawning, supposedly just waking up, was not insult enough, I am regularly offended by the blinding veneers of each and every cast member. I can only presume that an Essex based cosmetic dentist offered a Groupon deal for fluorescent teeth and threw in a free glass of fizz at the Sugar Hut. One benefit of the brilliant white smiles is that it can, momentarily, distract from the utter drivel that pours out of the uniformed mouths of the cast.

The false eyelashes, teeth, breasts and friendships are painful to say the least, but the commercial empire that this budget programme has managed to inspire is utterly ridiculous! Naively, I presumed, that we were all laughing at them not listening to them! The production company behind the show, I initially thought a little cruel for exploiting the emotionally and academically challenged of Essex for entertainment. Now I can see that they have struck a goldmine! Great for those who are lining their pockets as part of the TOWIE enterprise, terrible for humanity!  The concerning facts are that impressionable teenagers are being inspired to invest in diamanté vajazzles, bathe in fake tan, speak in broken English which includes entirely fabricated words or just cutting real words in half, save up their pocket money for a teeth whitening kit and a boob job!

I’m not saying that they are all idiots. I’m sure they are laughing all the way to the bank in sparkly convertibles. What is worrying is that reality television, so painfully convoluted, celebrates and idolizes such idiocy, that it becomes aspirational. TV and magazines today are basically selling a pipe dream that may as well say ‘forget qualifications, get your boobs done and marry a footballer.’ Surely the media can provide entertainment with a little more integrity?

There will always be the odd person who will be able to walk away with their head held high, but inevitably I see only one possible fate for the cast of TOWIE. Fading back into the oblivion of Brentwood with nothing more than the odd person giving them a double take asking; ‘didn’t they used to be on the tele?’