Review – MTV’s press launch of The Valleys: Think Big Brother and Gavin & Stacey’s lovechild…
This morning, I attended the press screening and cast meet and greet for new MTV show The Valleys, and if I’m honest, I was expecting the show to be – another – bit of TV fluff; uninteresting dross for the mainly brainless and/or brain dead…
However, quite aside from the fact that The Valleys really doesn’t have an equal in anything else that’s on TV right now, what it does have is a rather refreshing, unapologetic honesty and an innate, rich vein of humour running right through it.
Unlike some of its genre’s peers, you simply can’t engineer or script what The Valleys has; it’s either there or it isn’t, and in The Valleys, let me tell you boyo, it’s there, in spades.
And while yes, there is talk of fake tans, fake boobs, hair extensions and so on, and comparisons between The Valleys and Geordie Shore are inevitable, not least because they air on the same channel, the cast of Valleys are so energised and energising, not to mention downright funny, it takes no time at all to warm to them, whereas with other shows of its ilk, I often don’t warm to the cast, at all…
One of the things that I found admirable from the get go is that none of the show’s cast even tried to pretend that they aren’t fully aware of the opportunity that’s been handed to them by starring in the show. Nor do they pretend that they’ve forgotten the cameras are there, and I like that.
The runners and riders in The Valleys are, therefore, so much more ingenuous than some other reality show cast members, because they know this show can make them famous and rich, or at least – and Chidgey I’m looking at you now – get a person laid. And for Chidgey, that’s as good as cash money anyway.
Only Leeroy intimated that the fame that can, and I’m sure will, come as a result of being in The Valleys isn’t his ultimate goal – a career in music is – nonetheless, he was sincere enough to acknowledge that it’s a pretty chuffin’ big stepping stone.
By the end of the first episode – which left me wanting at least another one and preferably several more – I felt like I actually knew these people. That’s how instantaneous was my feeling for The Valleys, and though I’m sure the demographic target audience is about twenty years younger than me, nonetheless, I found it hilarious and most definitely will not be missing an episode.
During a brief chat that I had with AK – who is the co-boss of the operation, along with Jordan – I think we got crossed wires because she seemed to think I didn’t approve of the nudity, the apparently relentless shagging – or attempting to be shagged – the farting, the pi**ing and so on…
But far from disapprove of The Valleys’ antics, I reckon we have one life, so live it. If I had the assets these girls and boys do, I too would flaunt them, often. In fact, I had assets resembling human body parts once. They just expanded over time, and then headed south.
However, I may not fart as often as they do. At my age, there’s a danger of following through, so one tends to keep rectal emissions to a minimum. Failing that, we have someone follow us with a shovel.
So while I’m very happy to report that episode one of The Valleys was, in a word, brilliant – and in another, addictive – I must say I’m rather ashamed of myself for making assumptions based on what I gleaned from a quick scan of the pre-launch info, which, as I mentioned, made me suspect this was going to be all about shiny things and anything pink…
But aside from it being very, very funny – have I mentioned that it’s funny? – it’s lewd, it’s crude, there’s nakedness, swearing, frequent referrals to, and looks at, arses, as well as lunch boxes aplenty. And that’s just Aron.
Nicole offered up some of the best one-liners for me, such as that which she proffered after she’d artfully arranged a pile of rank fish over Jenna during a photo shoot with AK – who is as gorgeous in real life as she is in photos by the way – Nicole revealed that it had taken a long time for her to stop smelling of fish…
So she felt a bit bad for Jenna, who Nicole had insisted should pose with fish covering her boobs in addition to having one hanging out of her bikini bottoms. Of the whole Fish Vs Jenna debacle, Nicole said, “That was one fishy foof like…”
Nicole is one of those people who, possibly 99% of the time, has no idea that she’s saying something brilliantly amusing, although having said that, it’s often how she says a thing rather than the content of what she says that’s priceless.
But in terms of comedy value, watch out too for Liam and Chidgey, who, in episode one, have similarly lovely nuggets to impart. For instance, when we saw Chidgey talking to his mum about the girls he dates, and after she suggested that they don’t necessarily need to be “hot birds”, Chidgey replied, “Well yeah Mam, but you can’t shag a personality like…”
From the moment I met the cast, and the very lovely Ian (H from Steps) Watkins (he’s front and center with the boys) at Sanctum in Soho – by the way, Sanctum featured in the brilliant Rock ‘n Roll Hotel, which I had the pleasure of reviewing; click here and here to see those articles – they were all, to a man and woman, absolutely charming.
Jenna, who not only has the body of a goddess, she has a brain too – to wit, a law degree – is also very charming. Though when I spoke to her, the poor girl seemed to be suffering from mild hypothermia, having been on the roof terrace of Sanctum freezing her baguettes off for photos along with the rest of the cast.
But just apropos of Jenna, one of the funniest scenes in episode one of The Valleys came when Liam walked into the house for the first time to meet his housemates, and stepped right into a pile of poop that Jenna’s dog Princess had helpfully laid out on the rug, nicely camouflaged by a deep shag, of the pile variety that is…
His response was brilliant, as were the fits of hysterics that everyone else fell into over the doggy doo faux pas.
As to the other cast members, Carley is a one off in that she’s hot – even an old fart like myself can appreciate hotness in a woman, in a none lesbian sorta way – yet she has not one atom of decorum. In fact, she got a telling off from Jordan about her behaviour in his night club the evening before she started work for him, but again, she’s so unapologetic, it actually made me want to tell him, “Leave her alone man! She was only having fun!”
Then there’s Lateysha, who has an ego the size of Birmingham, but again, she’s totally aware that she does, and doesn’t give a stuff. You can’t help but like that in a person!
And last but far from least is Natalee, who didn’t really feature in the first episode, but, as she assured us before the screening began, “I cause a lot of s**t” in the next.
I should also mention that the parents we met in this first outing were in and of themselves TV gold. There’s one brilliant scene when Jenna’s dad has to have subtitling as he warns that he’ll most likely kill any man who hurts his little girl. And he means it. He has guns.
Jenna’s mum is similarly priceless as she listens, with increasing and raw fury, to Jenna’s description of “rollin’ around in the sand” for a beach themed photo shoot, while simulating sex with Chidgey, who was – poor lad – fairly withering as Jenna’s mum threw him death glares! You have to see it to truly appreciate it.
Absolutely do not miss The Valleys when it premieres on MTV at the indicatively post-watershed hour of 10pm on Tuesday, 25 September.
You’ll regret it if you aren’t in from the get go!
For now though, here’s a look at the cast members and what they’re all about…
AK is The Valleys resident empowered female! She’s here to put an end to the bimbo glamour model stereotype and make the housemates realise that it takes hard work to make it as model.
“We still have this stereotype of models being attractive but with no intelligence – I’m proof that’s not true,” she says. “A lot of girls think they have to be dippy, they have to be seen on the arm of a footballer and that is the wrong way to go,” she explains.
“I’ll bring confidence,” she says, before asserting that she is a driven, positive-thinking woman. This successful single mum of one will make sure the wannabe models are well and truly put through their paces, “I don’t like people who think the world owes them success. They need to work for it,”
AK insists. “People are going to think that I’m strict, I don’t take any attitude, I don’t deal with divas – I’ve got a very fun and flirty nature, but I like people to work hard.”
And if you need proof that there won’t be any messing with AK around, consider that she’s been in the Navy (no, really!) and has worked as a bouncer, before forging a very successful career in the world of glamour modelling both in front of and behind the camera.
She was so fed up of pervy glamour photographers that she decided to train as one herself. She wants the housemates to follow her example and achieve their dreams,
“They’re not here to party, they’re here to make a life for themselves.”
AK currently lives in Cardiff where she is renowned on the glamour modelling scene for being outspoken, “there’s no glamour model more popular than me” she insists. “Some people think I’m blunt, but if a girl doesn’t have what it takes to succeed there’s no point allowing them to waste her time trying”.
Having left the Valleys some years ago she knows what it’s like to try and move away. “I want to help these people and give them a chance but it’s going to be a hard slog, they will have to prove themselves.”
You tell ‘em, AK.
Business comes before pleasure with night club promoter Jordan. He’s here to show the housemates that organising parties for a living isn’t all fun and games.
“There’s a myth that promotions is easy and you just open the doors and people turn up. It’s my job to show how much graft goes in to pulling off a good event,” Jordan insists.
They might think that life’s a party now, but Jordan’s going to show the housemates otherwise, “It’s my way, or it’s the high way straight back to the valleys. Disrespect and slacking – I don’t tolerate either,” he warns. Jordan is expecting to find some real diamonds in the rough on The Valleys, but has he underestimated how much they may need polishing?
Jordan puts his work and making money before everything else – he even ended a nine year relationship because he says, “Work comes before women.” He was born as raised in one of Cardiff’s toughest areas and thinks that, “Success isn’t about luck,” he insists that, “You make your own luck.”
Already a celebrity on the Cardiff scene (or so he says), Jordan now wants to inspire the housemates to fulfil their ambitions. “Dreams can actually come true,” he says. “I started off with very little in life and I’ve worked my way from the very bottom to get where I am today, and that’s exactly where the housemates are. I’m blessed that I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted to in life, now the buzz is to get someone else to achieve something.”
Jordan wants to help the housemates, but he can’t wait for the public to watch him, “I’m the ultimate fly-on-the wall specimen,” he says, “I’ll entertain by being real, being exciting, confident and the ultimate party person in the capital of Wales,” he boasts.
Speak to Jordan for more than ten minutes and he’ll regale you with tales of partying with A-list celebs, dropping a name or two…
But unlike other Reality TV promoters, Jordan insists that he’s the real deal, “You’ve got fake promoters in TOWIE and Desperate Scouse Wives, they couldn’t promote themselves. I live and breathe promoting, it’s what I do five nights a week, 52 weeks a year – I fill night clubs for a living.”
Jordan isn’t all work and no play though. He’s a ladies’ man, and his job means that there is never a shortage of women who want to get with him. He’s good friends with The Valleys other boss Anna Kelle, and says it’s not a case of if they’ll get it on, but when. We’re not sure what feisty AK has to say about this…
Don’t be fooled by Aron’s cute baby face – this boy kicks butt, literally. He’s a three-time world champion kick boxer whose ambition in life is to make a career for himself in the sport.
Aron dreams of making money from his talent by staging kickboxing events, “You need money in life,” he says matter-of-factly, “and promoting is where the big money can be made.” After finishing school, Aron had the opportunity to go to America and pursue fighting in the UFC, but it wasn’t his thing… so America’s loss is The Valleys’ gain.
While he admits life in The Valleys can be a little dull, he loves his hometown and living at home with his parents, rugby-playing brother and academic sister. He hopes a fulltime move to Cardiff will mean fitter girls, brighter career prospects and new friends.
The ladies will love Aron, “I like getting tanned and pumped up at the gym,” he admits. Which explains why he isn’t shy about showing off his body, he has no problem with taking his top off to impress the girls and at night time he will pull out his party trick and wiggle his bum cheeks for all to see – small ego not so much. 6
Like all the boys on The Valleys, Aron has no trouble when it comes to pulling. “The other week I went out three nights in a row and shagged a different girl each night.” But he’s not worried about his parent’s seeing him doing anything naughty, “I’m quite open with my family,” he reveals. “We’re really close and anything that happens in my life I tell my family, I don’t keep anything from them.”
Well, you certainly won’t be able to now. Playboy Aron does have a softer side though “I got my heart broken at 13 – I’ve avoided love since.” All together now ahhhhhhh….
Bonus fact! Aron has another secret ambition – he fancies himself as the next Jean Claude Van Damme and would love to star in action film .
Rosé wine-guzzling party girl Carley wants to swap life working in a boring call centre for the chance to do something that she thinks she’d excel in, and that’s promotions.
Carley says that The Valleys is totally different to other Reality TV shows because all the housemates have ambition, “We’re not just a group of people who go out and get drunk, we’re people who have life ambitions and we’re all really driven, we pull together and back each other,” she says. “I never thought I’d end up in this position and it just shows you can do anything if you believe.”
This Valley sweetheart describes herself as, “bubbly and loud and out there”. However, she confesses that she can also be “straight to the point.” We think that’s code for ‘doesn’t take any crap’. She’s not worried about her friends and family seeing her misbehave on TV – “I am who I am,” she says, “They won’t watch if they don’t want to see it.”
The least high-maintenance of the Valleys cast, this girl-next-door can often be seen make up free(!) and can get ready for a big night out in under an hour, that’s quicker than most of the boys. Very much one of the lads, the other girls’ princess like behaviour will not go down well with her.
Carley is very close with her three best mates – they even text each other when they first wake up in the morning. As for boys, Carley has just come out of a five-year relationship; she started seeing her cheating ex at the age of sixteen and has only recently felt ready to start dating again.
City life in Cardiff has changed Carley for the better, “My ideal man has now changed from someone walking out the job centre with a can of beer and wearing a trackie, to a nice hot man in a suit – the difference in talent is huge,” she laughs. Of course, she realises that the show will be a massive opportunity, and the show has given her the confidence to think that she could also have a future working as TV presenter; she would love to follow in the footsteps of Holly Willoughby.
Ladies’ man Darren – or Chidgey as everyone calls him – has an ego as big as his muscles. He rates himself as a ten out of ten and says that girls are always fighting over him. This wannabe male model oozes confidence and anticipates being a hit with female viewers, “I’m not being big headed,” he says, “but I’m a good looking boy and I’ve got a good body.”
Chidgey thinks people will become “addicted” to the show (we agree, of course), and already thinks that he won’t be able to walk around Cardiff without being noticed. “I get a lot of attention off people as it is,” he admits.
He may seem cocky, but Chidgey confesses that working on The Valleys has given him the self-belief that he needed to pursue a career in modelling and quit bricklaying, “Leaving my old work behind was a big thing. I want to be successful – I don’t want to be a nobody, I want to be a somebody,” he says. His ultimate goal now is to do a shoot for Calvin Klein, “That would be a dream for me,” he admits.
As the black sheep of his family, Chidgey wants to impress his conservative parents and his grandparents (who adore his doctor cousin), “I want to make a success of myself so I can rub it in my Nan and Gramps’ face,” he admits.
This lad-about-town doesn’t have any trouble pulling – he admits to having had sex in a Portaloo, a taxi, and even at the bar of a club! But will this Valleys Casanova have as much luck in Cardiff and will his success with women follow him into the house?
Forget Legally Blonde, Jenna is The Valleys very own Legally Brunette having just completed a law degree. Just like her heroine Elle Woods, pretty, glam and slightly ditzy, Jenna even carries an adorable pet Chihuahua called Princess around in her handbag.
Despite her A* brain, Jenna wants to use her DD assets – which were an 18th Birthday present from her mum – while she’s still young enough to flaunt them.
She dreams of a career in glamour modelling, “You’re only young once and your looks are going to fade,” she laughs “Law is a bit too boring; I’ve always wanted to model while I still can!”
For some strange reason, people often don’t believe that Jenna studied law. She confesses that she likes it when people underestimate her so she can shock them, insisting, “Just because I look good doesn’t mean I haven’t got brains as well.” The lady makes a good point.
While Jenna is totally loveable, she can be feisty and dislikes snobs and bitchy bullies. “The public are going to like me,” she says. “I’m a nice person but they’re going to see my feisty side as well, I don’t take sh*t from anyone. I’m a really happy, bubbly person but if you piss me off look out!” she warns.
Potential suitors beware, whilst this Valleys hottie has no trouble attracting boys, they’ll have to get past her over protective mum and dad to be in with a chance with her. She’s a daddy’s girl and if anyone messes Jenna about they’ll have him to deal with. Fellas you have been warned! Jenna is desperate to move away from her hometown and says that while she’s focussing on her career, relationships are being placed firmly on hold.
A reality TV junkie, Jenna didn’t hesitate at the chance of joining The Valleys. She dreams of fame and the fortune that goes with it, “I have expensive tastes, so I need to be rolling in it somehow,” she admits. She also loves the idea of starring in her own reality TV show with Princess.
Move over Katie Price. Lateysha is coming to steal your glamour model-turned-business woman crown. All while looking as gorgeous as Beyonce, who people mistake her for all the time!
Lateysha is a self-confessed diva who dreams of a life of fame and fortune. She reckons that anyone who says they’re on The Valleys and is not interested in being a celebrity is a liar. This ambitious teenager has grand plans to exploit her impending fame – Lateysha brand hair extensions, clothes and make-up all coming soon if she has her way…
Lateysha has had several jobs since getting kicked out of college for being caught giving another student a lap dance. She’s worked as a hairdresser, lasted six months in a beauty apprenticeship, and now works as an accounts administrator at a solicitor’s office.
Quiet, valley life is not for Lateysha and she wants to prove to everyone that she can make something of herself.
As for relationships, Lateysha goes into the house dating Ryan – they’ve been together since they were 14 and he is totally in love with her, funding her WAG lifestyle. But will their relationship be more off than on once she claps eyes on her sexy house mates?
Lateysha loved living the high life in Cardiff during filming, but she’s not so sure that her “mega strict” mother will enjoy watching the show. “She always tells me before I go out ‘don’t kiss any boys’. That’s all I do when I go out – I kiss boys and girls too, she’s not going to be happy,” she laughs.
Watch out world, Lateysha is coming!
Get ready to meet Wales’ next (or should that be first?) urban music sensation. Leeroy is all about his music and wants to use The Valleys to get himself heard. This ladies’ man had a tough start in life having grown up in care, but Leeroy is determined to make a name for himself through his music, “It’s not about being rich, it’s not about being famous, it about being a someone,” he says. “I want to get as far as I can with my music, and the show can open loads of doors.”
Hopefully this will mean being able to move out of Bridgend and leave his bad boy past behind him to start a new chapter of his life.
Describing himself as an Alpha male (“I would be The Boss, The Leader, The God,” he brags), Leeroy admits his experiences on The Valleys has given him the extra bit of self-confidence needed to pursue his dreams, “The show has made me believe in myself even more, they put me in a position where I’m thinking I can actually do this now,” he confesses. With all this bravado he does have a softer side despite keeping it well hidden.
Like all the housemates, Leeroy likes to have a good time, but his main focus is work. “We’re all young people in the house and we’re going to party,” he concedes. “I’m here for the help with my career more than anything. The experiences I’ve had, they’ve taken me to the next level,” he admits.
A self-confessed ladies man, Leeroy lives for the weekend and reckons he’s slept with over 100 women. He’s not fussy either, “Skinnies or fatties, I don’t care… sex is sex , innit.” Always up for a laugh, he says he’s the clown and joker of the pack.
Highly ambitious, Leeroy has big plans for himself, “Music is my priority, but I’d like to do everything, not just music.” And that includes inspiring other people to follow their dreams. Will The Valleys do that? “Definitely, 100%. I’m confident about that,” he says.
Meet Valley’s nice guy Liam or Lip as he’s known to his rugby mates. The self-proclaimed “only gay in the village” loves the idea of moving to Cardiff to gain the experience and contacts to make it in the music business. Far from a Little Britain stereotype, Liam is a rugby playing, music mad lad who made the difficult decision to come out three years ago.
His family, friends and his close-knit community have all been incredibly supportive, and in his own words he now wonders “why the f**k I left it so long.” On a more serious note, Liam really wants to use the show to inspire other gay people to feel brave enough to come out too.
Not your typical Reality TV participant, Liam’s not here for the fame, which is something of a sore point with some of the other housemates. “One of the things I argued with people in the house about was that all they cared about was fame, being on the telly and screen time,” he rants, “For me it was an opportunity to get out of the rut that I’m in.”
The “rut” that Liam wants to leave is a secure job with his family’s company. He’s determined to do something for himself, out of the shadow of his father. With a lot of hard work he now aims to pursue a career in music, and he’s hoping The Valleys will catapult him into Ibiza DJ super stardom (Liam promises he won’t play Bryan Adams – his favourite on the turntables). He dreams of one day running his own record label and he wouldn’t say no to a career in TV presenting either!
Comparing life in the Valleys as living in a goldfish bowl where you can only see the outside world, he knows he’s taking a huge risk leaving his steady job and moving into the house. But Liam wants to prove to his family that risks can be worth taking.
Chatty, bubbly and vivacious, you’ll struggle to get a word in edgeways with this Valley girl around. Although she may be a late arrival she soon makes her mark in the house. Expect sparks to fly as it turns out she has a whole lot of history with one cast member
Currently a call centre worker, Natalee has dreamed of being a model since the age of 12 and although she’s extremely glamorous, she’s not your typical girlie girl, “I’m quite a ladette,” she says. “I’m honest, open and I’m not like anyone else.”
Natalee isn’t bothered about what the public may think of her, “Good press or bad press, it’s all some kind of press. There’s going to be bitchiness and more hating but on a larger scale – it doesn’t really bother me,” she laughs.
Natalee has found herself at the centre of arguments with other girls when she gets drunk on nights out. She reckons other women find her intimidating because she’s so flirty. Her boobs even have nicknames – Phil and Grant, as they are big and bald.
Natalee says her home town is sh*t, “It’s no place to be unless you’re in an Adidas tracksuit and have no teeth!” Up until now she’s stayed in the Valleys to be close to her Nan who has now sadly passed away. There’s nothing to keep her at home anymore and she hopes The Valleys will change her life, “There’s a massive difference from valley life to city life, I need more than valley life,” she says. “I want something better for myself, there’s nothing here.”
A little bit of money, fun and glamour wouldn’t go a miss either, but Natalee knows she’ll have to work to make it, “I hope The Valleys opens a bit of a door for me, I know I’m going to have to graft for it, but I want let everyone know what I’m about.”
Meet Nicole. Flirty and fun, this party girl lives by the motto, “Don’t hate me because you ain’t me.” Her colourful outfits and big hair match her bubbly personality and you can’t help but smile with this ditzy diva around.
Nicole loves her job as a hair dresser but has a real passion for fashion and dreams of becoming a stylist. While she’d love The Valleys to help her achieve her ambitions she admits that she sees the show as a chance to become a star, “I’d love to be famous, like anybody else would,” she says. With her dress sense being compared to ‘Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat’, the fashion world won’t know what’s hit it.
Nicole can often be found chatting up the bouncers to blag her way into VIP areas in clubs. A true attention seeker, she’ll go all out to get what she wants. She admits that on her craziest night out she stripped naked on stage and licked her mate’s nipples – all to win a wet T-shirt competition. So she’s definitely not shy then!
Nicole isn’t fazed by the people at home who dislike her outrageous outfits and wild behaviour. She’s well known on the Swansea scene and says most of the girls dislike her and give her jealous looks, but she couldn’t care less.
Nicole recently broke up with her boyfriend who she caught shagging another girl. Instead of moping over a broken heart, she is hoping to bag herself a famous boyfriend,
“I’d like a bit of Mark Wright. He’s nice, I’d like to date him,” she giggles. There’s no stopping Nicole, “My confidence is through the roof,” she says, “No one is too good for me.”
And you can click here to go to The Valleys micro-site on MTV for clips, photos and loads of The Valleys goodness. There’s lovely for you isn’t it.
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