"It is Essex. So anything could happen," reality TV star Lucy Mecklenburgh likes to say with a peal of laughter and a twinkle in her eye.
She should know. The lively brunette is the heart of The Only Way is Essex
, the ITV2 show that has blown its reality rivals out of the water. Lucy
is regularly watched by millions as she navigates the tricky waters of Brentwood's dating and social scene.
As soon as TOWIE
started in 2011 it was hailed as Britain's answer to US series The Hills
and Jersey Shores
. Viewers were captivated by the Essex girl and her colourful friends, who opened up on the details of their private lives in well-appointed homes, nightclubs and nail bars.
Soon fights at pool parties, broken engagements and showdowns in the Sugar Hut night spot became water cooler topics at the office.
Meanwhile, local expressions, such as 'well jell' (meaning jealous) and 'reem' (meaning cool) entered into the language.
Particularly enthralling was Lucy's love triangle with playboy Mark Wright and his ex Lauren Goodger – followed by her rocky relationship with Mario Falcone, to whom she was briefly engaged.
was such a hit it won a BAFTA Audience Award
in the face of stiff competition from dramas like Downton Abbey
. Designer Tom Ford and even Kate Middleton reportedly declared themselves fans.
After the end of her romance with Mario, when he started dating her teenage sister's best friend, Lucy vowed to enjoy single life.
"I’m so happy with myself at the moment," she told a magazine: "I worked out that I’d only been single for six months since I was 15 and I need to be by myself and live my own life and not through someone else."
And what a life it is. When she's not attending the latest glitzy party, she's strolling around Cannes. Of all the cast members, Lucy has remained a favourite. What's her secret?
It probably has something to do with her ability to bounce back with a smile after having her heart broken. Plus she is usually impeccably turned out, her coltish limbs clad in fashionable clothes.
Her reputation as a style leader has helped her to open a business. Lucy's Boutique just off Brentwood High Street – where else? – sells fashion that's fun and flirty. Just like its owner.