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THE FIRST screening of new TV reality soap The Only Way Is Essex provoked a furious reaction last night with social network sites flooded with comments.

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The ITV2 programme was billed as a “living soap” which would show “life imitating soap” but many who posted comments on Facebook were angry that it only served to endorse the stereotypical image of Essex people.

One viewer posted: “As an Essex girl myself I find it offensive that we are being portrayed like this, no wonder we have all the typical stereotypes.”

Candy Jacobs and Michael Woods, the pair from Gants Hill who work behind the bar at Sugar Hut club in Brentwood, which is the hub of the action, were featured in the first episode. But the majority of scenes centred around nightclub promoter Mark and his on off relationship with Lauren and another “couple” Kirk and Amy.

Viewers were treated to seeing the latest in body “art” at Amy’s beauty salon and watched as Lauren had a spray tan in preparation for her birthday party at the Sugar Hut.

In a pre-show interview Candy and Michael had said they were determined to put to bed the typical Essex stereotype of white stilettos and fake tan.

“Essex is not all white stilettos and handbags,” said Candy. “Essex people are often a loud bunch but I hope viewers will also see we’re very career driven and family orientated.”
But the social networkers disagreed, with one posting: “Well done ITV2 for making a show that has made all of Essex hate you. This show is nothing like us!”

ITV2 will be pleased that the whole of Essex appears to be talking about the programme and some said they were excited about watching the next episode, which will be screened on Wednesday,

One posted: “I’ll be honest and say that when I saw it advertised I thought what a bunch of fake people, but now I’ve watched it I actually really loved it! Entertaining to see how you guys live, and I can’t wait for the next episode to get to no (sic) you guys more.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK? Post your comments here or email edwina.ellington@archant.co.uk if you know any of the characters.

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