Joey Essex becomes Love Island’s first ever celebrity contestant as hit reality show returns

Reality TV star Joey Essex has entered the Love Island villa as the show’s first ever celebrity contestant.

The 33-year-old, who rose to fame on The Only Way Is Essex, has said he is taking part in the show because he is “extremely single right now” and hopes to leave the island “hand in hand with the love of my life”.

The ITV dating series returned on Monday, introducing more contestants to the villa in Majorca, Spain, with host Maya Jama making an entrance in a white dress.

Jama told the contestants: “Well it’s good to see you’re all settled in, as you know you are in Love Island, you must always expect the unexpected.

“So please welcome Joey.”

The TV personality said he was “the king of Essex” who wanted to find his “queen”.

ITV says he is the show’s “first celebrity contestant”.

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Essex chose to apply to be on the show himself before ITV bosses worked hard to keep his involvement a secret, according to The Sun.

Speaking exclusively to the newspaper before flying out to the villa, Essex said: “I feel like Joey Bond, ‘the name’s Essex, Joey Essex’. It felt like a military operation, not even the journey itself but the process of even getting through the application process and to this point… I’m extremely single right now, so I’m praying that I’m going to walk out of the villa hand in hand with the love of my life, that’s my main aim and all I care about.”

Following his appearances on the The Only Way Is Essex between 2011 and 2013, Essex featured on similar shows including I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Celebrity MasterChef, Celebs Go Dating and Dancing On Ice.

Before Essex’s appearance on Love Island, Jama told the other contestants: “First impressions count. Boys and girls, I now want you to rate each other in order of who you think has come across the most like boyfriend and girlfriend material, right down to who has given the least relationship vibes.”

Jama then revealed the rankings would mean who they were paired with.

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Maya Jama chats Love Island with the King

The couples included Mimii Ngulube, 24, a mental health nurse from Portsmouth, and Munveer Jabbal, 30, a recruitment manager from Surbiton; and Nicole Samuel, 24, an accounts manager from Aberdare, and Sean Stone, 24, a salesman from Hertford.

Other partners were Samantha Kenny, 26, a make-up artist from Liverpool, and Sam Taylor, 23, a hair stylist from Chesterfield; Harriett Blackmore, 24, a dancer and personal shopper from Brighton, and Ciaran Davies, 21, a surveyor from Pencoed, South Wales; and Jess White, 25, a retail manager from Stockport, and semi-professional footballer Ronnie Vint, 27, from London.

Ayo Odukoya, 25, a model from Canning Town, and Patsy Field, 29, an office administrator from Orpington, were also joined together.

Patsy, who was born with Erb’s palsy – a paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves resulting from a difficult birth – revealed that she shares her bed with her mother.

She explained that her mother did not have a place in her home for her to stay except for in the same room.

Elsewhere in the episode, Ciaran admitted to “being with” a woman over the age of 40 when he was 18.

Love Island continues at 9pm on ITV2 and ITVX on Tuesday.

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