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The Only Way Is Essex (often abbreviated as TOWIE) is an ITV2 reality television show based in Essex. It shows "real people in modified situations, saying unscripted lines but in a structured way." It debuted on 10 October 2010. It follows the lives of young adults: Mark Wright, Jessica Wright, Kirk Norcross, Amy Childs, Lauren Goodger, Sam Faiers, James Argent, Lydia Rose Bright, Harry Derbidge and their friends. The show is primarily filmed in Brentwood, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton and Chigwell, close to London, and shows their lives as young, rich Essex boys and girls.

The show is filmed only a few days in advance and Series 1 ran initially for four weeks, with two episodes a week. It is narrated by Denise Van Outen, who is from Basildon, Essex. The show has been described by the Daily Mirror as Great Britain's a The Hills and Jersey Shore.

ITV have commissioned at least two more series. Series 2 returned on 20 March 2011, airing every Wednesday and Sunday. Series 3 will be screened in September.

The Only Way Is Essex is filmed only a few days in advance of airing. Filming began in late September/early October, in the town of Brentwood, where cast member Kirk Norcross' father's bar, The Sugar Hut is located. Filming also takes place at Belles & Beaus and Pet Couture,Queens Road in Buckhurst Hill, and The Manor House nightclub in Woodford Bridge. The cast members also visit Faces nightclub in Gants London, as well as Deuces Bar and the King William IV pub in Chigwell. Series 1 saw Mark Wright open Deuces Bar & Lounge in Chigwell Road.

Ahead of series 2, it was reported that the cast wanted to be paid for starring in the show.

The cast were not paid a wage during the first series, but after "having a stand-off with producers and threatening to quit", they agreed to settle a appearance fee.

It turned out the cast are only making 32p more than the National Minimum wage hourly rate of £5.93, earning approximately £50 for a day's work.

The show has been criticised for its negative representation of Essex, and there have been a number of complaints to ITV2. Many felt it was not a true representation of the area and the people that live there.

in April 2011, it was reported that former Big Brother winner Brian Belo plans on suing the makers of The Only Way Is Essex – claiming they "stole his idea". Belo was in the original pilot of the he might be involved in producing the show, but was "cut" from the production entirely.

The show has now moved on and characters such as Amy Childs and Mark Wright are no longer in the show, they have been replaced by characters such as Charlie Kara and Billie.