Model Ashley James turned heads when she joined Made in Chelsea in 2012 as Francis Boulle's new love interest. But as the opening episode of the fifth series revealed, Ashley has a new man on her mind.
In an exclusive interview with HELLO! Online, Ashley, 26, tells how romance blossomed with her Made in Chelsea co-star Ollie Locke. The pretty blonde TV star tells how Ollie wooed her with a string of dates, including an unusual first date in McDonald’s as well as a romantic trip to New York. She also shares her make-up tips and talks about how Ollie “sometimes wears women’s clothing”…
How did you get involved with the show?
"A friend of mine is an extra on Made in Chelsea, so she invited me to come along and sit in on one of the scenes. That's when I met Francis and the production team, and things kind of went from there."
What was your first impression of Francis?
"I found him intriguing because he's quite an awkward, intelligent character and different from the Made in Chelsea mould, so to speak, and I was quite attracted to that. But it's hard to say retrospectively, I feel a bit silly for ever liking him now."
When did you realise there might be something between you and Ollie?
"I met him properly on a night out just before Christmas and we ended up kissing, but I still wasn't sure if he really fancied me or not after that. I think he knew I was feeling a little uneasy, so he came round one night around midnight, and picked me up. We went for a milkshake at McDonald's because it was the only place open so it wasn't anything fancy, but it showed that given the time of night and the fact that he'd tried to find a 'restaurant' that was open, he cared about my feelings. We didn't even kiss on that date, it was more friendship, but it was a really nice, caring thing to do and that's when I realised he was a sweet guy."
What's been your most memorable date with him?
"It's all been amazing, but he did surprise me a few weeks ago. We decided to go away for a bit before filming, so Ollie said he would take me to Paris. He kept telling me how cold it was there and to pack warm clothes and also said policies had changed and we needed a visa to go to France. I didn't suspect a thing, and when we arrived at the airport, he said we were actually going to New York. And a couple of hours later we were sipping champagne on the plane. It was amazing."
Do you mind having your relationship in the limelight?
"It is quite tough if there are problems and you have to say it out in front of the whole production team when it's a conversation you'd normally have between two people, like my row with Francis. I'm a private person, obviously not to my friends, but I normally keep my relationships to myself so I think that's a difficult thing to adjust to. It can be really hard when you're putting your life in front of four million viewers because you want to stay true to yourself, which is what I try to do."
How is your rising fame as a Made in Chelsea character treating you?
"The show's really fun and very exciting and has opened many doors for me. I've met some really interesting people and made great friends. It's also nice to see my fanbase growing and I had some really nice comments from the last series. I know it sounds a little cliché but I hope to stay true enough to myself and hope that my behaviour will inspire other people to not just do what they think they should, but what they feel is right or what they believe in."
Do you hang out a lot with your co-stars off camera?
"Apart from Ollie I hang out a lot with Cheska (Hull) and Carly (Rothman). Carly joined the show at around the same time as me. We're quite active people so we're always looking for new things to do, either outdoorsy, adventurous activities or we go for dinner and brunch a lot. We also go out quite a bit, I guess normal things that girls do."
How do you get ready before a night out?
"I'm quite casual and don't wear that much make-up. I'm not the kind of girl that plans my outfit weeks or days in advance. I just put something on. But Ollie takes much longer than me to get ready. It's normally me waiting for him to finish his make-up and decide what he's wearing. He sometimes wears women's clothing which is actually quite handy because it means I can wear his wardrobe if I stay at his after a night out. But luckily I'm thinner than him so he can't fit into my clothes."
What is your best beauty tip?
"I would say wash your face twice a day, and always remove your make-up before going to bed, no matter how tired you are. I've started using Orogold which is a 24-carat gold product. It sounds very pretentious but it's a weekly exfoliator and the gold basically draws all the dirt out of your skin, and you can see it coming out so I quite like physically seeing the results. But a more friendly daily face wash I use is the Elemis Gentle Rose Face Exfoliator."
And what are you up to now?
"I'm happy on Made in Chelsea at the moment so I'm not planning to leave anytime soon, but I definitely want to be a TV presenter. That's always been my long-term ambition."
Series five of Made in Chelsea starts on Monday on E4 at 10pm.
Interview and report: Ainhoa Barcelona