‘You can’t pretend’: how we did it Made in Chelsea | Reality show
David Granger, executive producer
We were casting for another show, Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum, and we continued to meet people in their late teens and early twenties who weren’t cut out for it but were charismatic. , funny and led dramatic lives. They were the kind of people who were called “Sloanes”, but they were much more interesting than that. The community was very tight-knit: they all knew each other and lived close to each other.
The zero actor was Amber Atherton. Thanks to her, we met the first group of friends: Francis, Rosie and the others. At the time, Keeping Up With the Kardashians was growing in popularity and Twitter was still relatively new. We felt like we were on the cusp of something, this phenomenon of people sharing their personal lives.
The style of the show was very important. We presented an ambitious world and this had to be reflected in the quality of the production. It’s always a big deal: we always need our actors in positions where they can get the best light. People ask all the time if the show is real. He is. The production team is in regular contact with the actors. We always ask them what they’re doing, who they like, and then we film them. There has to be trust. They need to know that we will tell their stories honestly and authentically.
I am extremely proud of the episode of Ollie’s wedding: Chelsea was the first UK reality show to cover an LGBTQ + wedding. I have always liked that we are dealing with all kinds of relationships, good and bad, and between family members as well as romantic relationships. As the series developed, we were able to tackle larger topics, such as heartbreak when Alex Mytton’s mother sadly passed away. If you had told me 10 years ago that the series would continue even today, with hundreds of episodes and a Bafta, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Ollie Locke, actor
I had finished drama school and felt like a failed actor when I got the opportunity to join a new “built reality” show with the working title Chelsea Girls. It was directed by the production company behind Young, Dumb, and Living Off Mum, so I kind of suspected it would end up being something like Rich, Posh and Stupid. I knew Cheska and Binky before the shoot. Even though I know she didn’t, Binky always says she brought me to the show. She always insists that she “made me”!
We are basically just show-offs. Richard Dinan, a former cast member, used to say, “If you knew how real it was, you’d love it more.” You can’t fake that stuff. I guess we were all supercharged versions of ourselves at first. My Union Jack Car is a good example! The “TV me” was like my alter ego. I wore hoodies and jeans and then walked up to the set with sweaters and ridiculous stuff. But that gave me some problems. I felt like I had become a parody of myself, which is why I cut all of my hair in series five.
We all thought Made in Chelsea would be something people laughed at for six months and then take a back seat – but it stuck. When we shot the first series, I was working as a porter. A few months after the first series aired, I was at the door of a club in Mayfair, taking care of Ellie Goulding, when someone came to ask us me for a photo. It got me thinking, “Maybe I should start focusing on this TV thing.”
Coming out as bisexual on the show was a pivotal moment. I wanted to be open about my sexuality because I knew I had this amazing platform and could use it to help others. I received surprisingly little trolling, perhaps because I’ve always been very open about my struggles and never tried to be someone that I wasn’t. Even after I got married, there was only one bad tweet – and the episode has been watched almost a million times. The decision to film my wedding was an easy one. I wanted parents of gay kids to see that if their child gets married, they can still do it fabulously and beautifully, with heart and emotion and whatever you want on a wedding day.
Reality TV shows like Made in Chelsea work so well because people are inherently curious. We love to discover lives different from ours. I don’t think a lot of people in Chelsea watch the show – unless they want to explore new restaurants.