Former TOWIE star Lydia Bright introduces new boyfriend Lee Cronin - see exclusive pictures

The couple have been dating for over a year

Lydia Bright posed for her first photoshoot with her new boyfriend in HELLO! magazine. The former TOWIE star and Lee Cronin have been dating for 18 months but have previously kept their relationship to themselves. "When we first got together I was adamant that I wanted to stay private," Lee told HELLO! in October 2018. "But as time's gone on I've realised it's impossible. So now I'm embracing it." Naturally reserved, it took a while for him to come out of his shell, but Lydia’s boyfriend of 18 months is now embracing the showbiz lifestyle after being thrown in at the deep end.

The couple met last summer at an Ibiza nightclub and their holiday romance soon turned into a proper relationship. Lee, 32, moved into 28-year-old Lydia's Essex home in January and are in the process of buying their first home together. Now they're in the process of buying their first home together. They hope to get the keys before Christmas. "We've had talks about marriage and having a family. We want to get in the house first, get settled – but they are our future plans, definitely," he explained. "When you know, you know. When me and Lyd met we clicked so well in every way. We’re so close. Often things fizzle out, but not with us. And we’re together a lot."

He is definitely The One for Lydia: "After we met we were together constantly. I’ve never been like this before, but I wanted to cancel jobs to spend more time with him - and I’m usually all about work. For the first month we basically sacked everything off. There was no happy medium. We were in such a bubble - with each other all day, every day. It was so intense." Lee has been embraced with open arms by Lydia’s family, even going round for dinner when his girlfriend is away from home for work – Lydia is famous for taking on gruelling charity challenges, including a bike ride through Vietnam and a trek through the Himalayas, as well as taking part in intrepid reality shows such as The Jump and Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. "I adore him; he’s perfect for Lydia," revealed sister Georgia, while dad Dave said: "It must have been intimidating for him coming into this family, but I welcome him with both arms. He’s a good lad."

MORE: Lydia Bright and mum Debbie talk family life growing up

Brother Freddie, 20, a massive football fanatic who is studying to be a personal trainer, added: "I did feel sorry for him at first, so I made an extra effort. Now we’re really close." But Debbie wasn’t convinced by their romance at first. "Being a mother you have a need to protect and keep your children safe. Everything else comes second. I’ve seen Lydia hurt so many times over the years. And probably, I wanted her to marry Prince Harry. But she was a bit late on that – Meghan got in there first. It’s a shame because I could see myself sitting beside the Queen, all the corgis at my feet,” she joked.

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It was Debbie’s straight-talking nature that first endeared the Bright mum to TV viewers on The Only Way is Essex. "I’ve never held back from how I’ve felt and sometimes I put my thoughts across too much," she said. "But that’s just me." She’s a real matriarch, having been a foster mum for more than 25 years, with more than 200 children welcomed into her home. "At my age I have time to reflect on things and I think I am a natural nurturer. I tend to look after everyone and care about everybody. I’m very non-judgmental and everybody has their own stories - including me."

It's easy to see why Lydia, mum Debbie, dad Dave, siblings Georgia, Freddie and Romana and the newest addition, her boyfriend Lee, all feature in new reality podcast The Brights. "Well, we’re more relatable than the Kardashians," laughed Lydia, who narrates the weekly show, which promises to chart the highs and lows of the family as they navigate love lives, work, sibling arguments and everything in between. Georgia added: "We are more genuinely crazy and chaotic. We don’t want to be them or copy them, but we do say that Lydia is like Kim K as she’s the famous one and mum’s favourite."

WATCH: Lydia Bright's secret Mother's Day message to her beloved mum Debbie

The podcast is the first real opportunity for fans to get to know Lydia’s family and her new beau, who until now has kept a relatively low profile. "But it’s so exciting that we’re going to be the first ever reality podcast show," added Lydia, who shot to fame in the first series of TOWIE in 2010 – one of the first of the new breed of structured reality shows. It won a Bafta and paved the way for other hit series including Made in Chelsea. "I’ve always wanted to do something with my family; I just wasn’t sure what," Lydia said of the podcast. "My dad still doesn’t really know what it is, though. He keeps calling it an iPod."

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