The gorgeous TOWIE star returns to the show that made him famous but says he has no time for reality stars who don’t have any substance.
Great news folks, Charlie King is back on our tellys. Yes, at last we finally have a reason to watch TOWIE again as the ripplingly muscled cutie swans back in to Essex to set the cat among the pigeons.
You may remember when he was in the series last time he was dating – yes dating – Gemma Collins and had Bobby Norris sniffing around him like a dog on heat.
Three years on, life has changed somewhat. He’s buffed up to ridiculous proportions, is a PT trainer and is happily and openly gay.
How will Gemma and Bobby react to his shock return?
Here Charlie speaks exclusively to GuysLikeU about coming face to face with his past, his boyfriend and what he thinks about reality TV and those stars we all love to hate.
So how did your return come about?
I’d always stayed in touch with the show’s producers and they asked me to come in for at the start of the year to see where we were at they told me that they wanted me to come back to me. And I’m excited to be back. It feels like the right time now. I’m a totally different person. I have gone away, travelled, I have learnt out by myself, I’ve studied, I am comfortable in my own skin. I think that projects of how I am now and what I am doing. I am coming in and helping Gemma on her journey. It’s a good time. I am an expert in my field as PT. And she is making changes in her life and it felt a perfect time. Our relationship is really good at the moment. We can both be comfortable with each other. I think I am going to have a positive outlook on her
The last time you were on the show you were dating Gemma Collins. Then you left and came out… How was it when you came face to face to again?
We had to lot to catch up on. I removed myself from the world of Essex. So I didn’t really see anyone from the show. I had moved on, got into a relationship and lived a totally different world away from where I was. I kept an eye on what people were doing and offered my support when people needed it, but I hadn’t seen Gemma at all. But when we did see each other again we just picked up from where we left off, but in a different dimension. It felt easier, I wasn’t nervous anymore. When we were dating she used to make me quite nervous. I never know what to expect from her. And of course I was struggling with myself, so I was always feeling on edge, so I didn’t always feel aright about things. It was interesting to let it pan as it did. The producers didn’t give us any guide. They just wanted to see how it went.
What was that first meeting like?
She was very happy to see me. She could see that I would be a real positive influence on her life. She said I was like a different man. That I looked different, that I sounded so different and that I was holding myself in a different way. But she could also see that I was still myself and speaking a lot of sense. I was still sensitive as I was before. I still have those qualities. But I have evolved. She’s changed too. She realises there are things in her life she wants to change. And that’s where I come in.
When you were first dating, did she ever suspect that you might be gay?
No, she never did. I don’t think she ever understood me. She had never really met someone like me before.
Was it a sexual relationship?
We were dating, just hanging out, having fun. We were close. She would come over to my house, we would go to for dinner. We’d be on the sofa having cuddles. It was light and bright.
At the time of you coming out, was she supportive or was she hurt?
When I came out she said why were you making it such a big issue. You just have to be comfortable with yourself. Charlie I really didn’t care – she said she didn’t want to be strung along, or made a fool of. But she said she was happy for me that I had found myself. She said don’t make a big issue out of it and go and enjoy yourself.
Was she upset that she had to hear it on This Morning?
A lot of the cast at the time all said to me why had I kept it to myself for so long. But i said to them coming had to be done in my own time. And instead of telling individuals bit by bit I just took the opportunity to do it on TV.
Not only did you have Gemma wanting a bit of you, Bobby Norris fancied you too. How has having him back in your life been?
It’s been an interesting rekindle of our friendship. We’ve had to address a few things and time will tell how it pans out. He had very deep feelings for me and I think me being back on the scene has caused him a bit of unsettlement. We hadn’t really seen each other for three years. When I quit the show I just wanted to run away and disappear and build this new life that was new to me. and i did. And I made lots of great friends and I met someone I wanted to be with. Bobby was hurt that I wasn’t honest with him when all he had ever been with me was honest and its taking him a bit of time to work out if he still wants me as a friend. We’ll see how we work out.
You have a very handsome boyfriend who is a very private guy. Is he worried about what comes with appearing on a show like TOWIE?
We have spoken about it. We are going to have to go bit by bit. He knows that I wanted to get back out there. For me, it is really important to be out there and be a role model and show them what I am all about. He lets me do my thing but I don’t think he grasps what the show entails.
Will he be able to deal with the drama and the storylines that come with the show.
Our relationship is pretty secure, he knows he doesn’t have to worry about it. Not everything on the show is about relationships anyway. Obviously there is an emphasis on certain couples and the dramas that come with it. But from what I see from some viewers on social media, it can get a bit tedious after a while and the storylines become very repetitive. ‘This one is going to cheat when they’re in the Marbella’ for example, and then you have to follow that through the entire series. If you look at twitter you see people writing ‘Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!’ I’m coming in to talk about life and life experience. I bring a different dimension to the show, some substance which I think has been lacking for a while.
You’re coming back to a cast of new faces like Megan McKenna and Pete Wicks. They are screaming and fighting all the time. How is that for you? Obviously they know they have to create drama to get screen time…
I haven’t had a lot of interaction with the new people. I did a scene this week with Megan – she wasn’t scary she was very sweet, very nice. But I’m at a stage where I can sit back – I have watched the show for two years as a viewer now and you can see when people are insecure and begin panicking that they have to keep delivering certain storylines. You can tell they are worried about becoming irrelevant. It becomes very competitive among the cast as they try to get on screen as much as they can. They have to stay relevant.
Is it hard to stay relevant?
I was told so many times after I left the show I was irrelevant, that I wasn’t worthy because I wasn’t on the show anymore. I found that people disregard you so quickly just because you’re not on the telly anymore. And you can see that these boys and girls live in fear. They worry that they are going to get forgotten about and go back to the real world to nothing. Well, I’ve gone back to the real world and went back to basics and centred myself again. Now I have returned to the show and I know now that I am not going to worry myself if don’t get air time. I have survived the last few years and I will survive moving forward. I am qualified fitness trainer now – I’m off to LA in a few weeks.
Since you were on TOWIE, reality shows have become a lot more sexual. Are we moving in a dubious direction?
There is a demand for that kind of programming – people like it. Personally I don’t like shows like Ex On The Beach, they are not for me. TOWIE is different, it’s still a more family orientated and there’s a mixed age group who watch it. I think Essex keeps it more dignified. Yeah there’s the rows and drama but they know when to draw the line so it doesn’t become trashy where people have sleazy sex on screen. It wouldn’t work on TOWIE.
A mum who lost her son to suicide said on This Morning recently that celebrating these TV villains encourages cyber bullying…
I saw her, it was very moving. And I can imagine that it must seem acceptable to behave in a mean and aggressive way. I just find it unfair to people who work so hard and are respectful of people that these individuals who have no morals seem to do so well. I don’t think they are role models in any way. Would parents want their kids to be like them? Luckily there are lots of other people out there who are great positive role models and I hope I can be one of them.
So we should stop putting these people on a pedestal?
I have to admit, like a lot of people, I cannot stand Stephen Bear. He might be a nice guy in the real world but from what I’ve seen of him on TV he has done some very vile, disrespectful and aggressive things. I don’t know if it’s all an act, but it doesn’t come across very well on TV.
But people seem to love that kind of controversial behaviour from the likes of Stephen Bear and Gemma Collins, no?
People say Gemma is a villain, but she’s not. She’s TV gold, she is what she is. There’s no real malice in her. She just says outrageous things. It’s comical. Her heart’s in the right place. She’s not a bad girl. But I don’t get why people like Stephen Bear and Heavy D, who seemed to piss off a lot of viewers last year with their aggressive behaviour on CBB, continue to succeed.
Do you think that makes young people look up to them and think that cheating and being horrible gets them places in life?
I don’t think people think being like them can help them make it. But I do think this kind of behaviour does set the bar of what people can do and say and think ‘Oh I can get away with speaking to people like this.’ I think it isn’t the best tone to set. That worries me. I don’t get influenced by people like that cos I am intelligent and I’m older I know when someone’s moral compass is wrong.
Do you think being nice in this industry can be a hindrance?
I am a pretty wholesome guy and when I left TOWIE I will be honest and say I did find it hard to get work. Then there are people like Stephen Bear who appear to have no morals and acts like he barely has a braincell in his head is still booked for work. And that’s what made me doubt myself over the past year. Why is some one like that booked for jobs when he goes around looking like he has no substance and I’m not given that job ‘cos I am too nice. People relate to nice people with a story to tell and can offer entertainment that isn’t aggressive, mean or brash or rude and arrogant and obnoxious and thick. I have struggled for the last couple of years. And I have seen bottom of the barrel people get stuff.
But you’ve been very successful and done so much.
I’m lucky, people liked me on Dinner Dates and enjoyed the red carpet stuff I did. I’m lucky people have always supported me and have always liked me. I think reality TV has become a bit car crash because it lacks substance. I think that’s why the produers want me back so there is some one with substance, someone people can relate to, like those struggling with their sexuality.
See Charlie back in TOWIE this week.