The Only Way is Essex has just hit South African screens. Every Thursday at 20:30 and 21:00 on BBC Entertainment (channel 120 on DStv) you can view the exploits of the show's stars – real-life soap opera characters in the uber-glam world of nail bars, wine bars, spray tans, flash cars, big watches, and vajazzles. What's a vajazzle? Sorry, but we're going to make you watch the show to find out.
If you've watched a few episodes of the show, you might think that the characters – which is essentially what they are, even if this is 'reality' TV – are a superficially silly bunch. But when GLAMOUR talks to Lydia, Sam and Lauren, there's nothing but warmth and friendliness over the phone, and the interview quickly degenerates into a jumble of Essex accents answering my questions about Essex girls, Essex boys and the fame that's come to them all.
How much like their onscreen roles are they really? Read the interview, watch the show and decide for yourself.
Your show is coming to South Africa for the first time. What do you think South Africans are going to think of Essex?
Lauren: Around the world, everyone's started saying all our words.
Sam: Do you reckon all the girls in South Africa will start getting vajazzles? I reckon they will.
How would you describe a typical Essex girl's style?
Lauren: Very GLAMOURous... You know, hair blow-dried...
You obviously put a lot of effort into your looks...
Lauren: Yeah, definitely. Not everyday – but for a night out, yeah.
Where do you shop?
Sam: Miss Selfridge, River Island, TopShop, Zara – and my store, Minnie's Boutique!
Lydia: That's one of the great things about doing the show – people want us to wear their clothes, and send us dresses to wear.
How would you describe an Essex man's style?
Lydia: Tanned, gelled hair, smell nice, tight clothes.
Sam: I don't really like Essex boys – I prefer bad boys. Essex boys are a bit poncey. A bit pristine!
So what do you look for in a man?
Sam: Nice teeth, good shoes.
Lauren: Nice hands are important.
Lydia: Tall, obviously bigger than me. Six foot, with big shoulders.
How do you feel about a number of the characters leaving the show?
Lauren: They're going on to different things, different opportunities. The Only Way Is Essex has become one of the biggest shows in the country, and a lot of us have grown up in the processes. We started off at nineteen – we have businesses now.
You're in your fourth season of the show now – which has been your favourite to work on?
Sam: Series one and two.
Lydia: One and two. There weren't so many characters – but more characters mean more drama, more ratings, better TV... We're looking forward to season five!
What can the rest of the world learn from Essex girls?
To be reem! Don't be jel – be reem.