‘Towie effect’ showing no signs of slowing down for Redbridge businesses

Gemma Collins and James Argent with Steven Day (centre) at the Kenneth More Theatre.

Gemma Collins and James Argent with Steven Day (centre) at the Kenneth More Theatre. - Credit: Archant

It’s been more than three years since The Only Way is Essex (Towie) first emerged to immortalise the phrases “well jel” and “creepy sick”.

Mark Wright

Mark Wright - Credit: Archant

With 10 series of the ITV2 reality show in the can, the public appetite for the Essex elite is yet to wane, with cast members Sam Faiers, Gemma Collins and Amy Childs cropping up on TV shows such as Celebrity Big Brother, Splash! and The Jump respectively over the past few weeks.

But it’s not just television land in which these local celebrities are making waves; the show continues to provide an economic boom for Redbridge.

The cast members’ latest outfits, haircuts and handbags become must-haves, and bars where they hang out – such as Faces in Gants Hill, and Funky Mojoe in South Woodford – attract crowds hoping to catch a glimpse.


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The Towie effect has also kept on rolling for the Uppercut hair salon group.

The company has seen fans visit its branches in Manford Way, Chigwell, and Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill, because of its connections to the show’s stars.

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Ricky Rayment has been a client at the Chigwell salon since he was 14 and Sam Faiers and Amy Childs have also been regular visitors.

Uppercut owner Trevor Vale said: “Obviously we are in the main catchment area as our salons are in areas where a lot of the cast come from. The show has really helped our business.”

Trevor said interest from the public is increasing ahead of the new series and the effect of the show on the company has been surprising.

“When one of them has their hair changed or coloured we get an influx of people,” he said. “It is bizarre.

“And it is not just 16-year-olds, we get mums and people like that – and that was the biggest surprise for us.”

Last summer, 12 Scottish girls visited as part of a Towie-themed celebration and did so in style.

Trevor said: “They were served champagne by a topless waiter. We do [Towie events] because all the team and the clients love it.

“It is all good.”

Gants Hill restaurant Gym’s Kitchen, in Cranbrook Road, is another haunt for cast members.

Regular visitors include Mario Falcone and Lauren Pope. Jessica Wright and Frankie Essex have also eaten there.

In June, the restaurant supplied Mario and James “Arg” Argent with healthy food for a six-pack challenge for Men’s Health magazine.

Sunny Kudhail, one of the owners, said: “It has definitely helped. We opened at a time when Towie was big and customers became aware of us through social media.

“It has certainly helped with people knowing us outside Essex and we have had fans coming down.

“We all live around that area [where cast members do] so we actually knew a couple of people prior to the show.”

The King William IV pub in High Road, Chigwell, was a main location in the first few series.

Scenes staged there included showdowns between Sam Faiers and Lucy Mecklenburgh and the first scene between Joey Essex and his cousin Chloe Sims.

In 2011, Maria Fowler visited the pub to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, wrapped in bunting.

Haven House Children’s Hospice in High Road, Woodford Green, has “benefited greatly” from links with the cast, according to the charity’s PR manager, Rachel Braier.

Mark Wright is a Haven House ambassador, bringing the crew of ITV1 show Daybreak to the hospice as part of the Text Santa campaign while Arg organised a celebrity football match for the charity last year.

Sam and Billie Faiers do lots to support the hospice, especially through their business, Minnies Boutique in Brentwood, according to Rachel, and Haven House is the boutique’s official charity partner.

Sam and Billie are also promoting the Haven House Par-tea – a new fundraising campaign urging the community to hold afternoon teas and bake sales for Haven House.

Hospice chief executive Mike Palfreman said: “We have benefited enormously from the advent of Towie and the support of its cast; helping us to fundraise and raise awareness of who we are and what we do. We are grateful to all the cast who give their time to us.”

And rounding off the Towie tour of Redbridge, stars Gemma Collins and Arg even filmed scenes at Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre, with manager Steven Day describing their visit as “really good fun”.

With little sign of fans losing interest, the Towie effect is sure to spread a little further before it disappears.

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