Towie 'bubble burst' Brentwood business boost needed

Cast of The Only Way Is Essex Image copyright ITV
Image caption The Only Way is Essex features ordinary people in modified situations

An Essex town buoyed by the popularity of a reality television show needs to plan for when the "bubble bursts", businesses have been told.

ITV's The Only Way is Essex (Towie) has been "largely positive" for Brentwood, where it is set, but "everything has a shelf-life", the council leader said.

Lisa Bone, of Visit Essex, added: "If its bubble bursts we could be left with stereotypes, not economic benefits".

A meeting is being held on Tuesday to discuss the town's "sustainability".

The show Towie, now in its 11th series, features ordinary people appearing in modified situations based on their actual lives.

'Orange bags'

Many run their own businesses in Brentwood, including shops, salons and nightclubs, which feature in the programme.

Image copyright Robin lucas
Image caption King George's Playing Fields are "the other side" of Brentwood

"Towie won't always be around and while it brings in a lot of tourism it has also given the town a certain stereotype, perception and image," Ms Bone said.

"Brentwood is full of beautiful historic buildings and family-friendly parks and we need to ensure we emphasise those, making the town attractive to everyone and ensuring its sustainability."

Borough council leader Louise McKinlay, said: "The popularity of the show has been very good for the town centre, retailers and the tourism trade, bringing so many people in to the area.

"Whether we like it or not, Towie has put Brentwood on the map. Yes, there's a lot about tans and nails in Towie, but there's also a great entrepreneurial spirit and that's evident everywhere in the town.

"I'd like to say that the only thing that's orange in Brentwood is our recycling bags."

Businesses in the town are being asked to consider Brentwood's "unique selling point and future branding" at Tuesday's meeting hosted by the council and Visit Essex.

Image copyright John Winfield
Image caption Businesses in Brentwood are being asked to consider future sustainability

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