Former The Only Way is Essex and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here star Mark Wright headed over to Brent Cross Shopping Centre to 'dine till 9' with Times Series reporters Natalie O'Neill and Anna Slater. Here's what he's really like as a dinner guest...
Slurping on a lemonade, Mark Wright stifles a laugh. “I shouldn’t really be drinking this, it’s loaded with sugar isn’t it?” he jokes.
I had wondered if I should slap on some fluorescent orange The-Only-Way-is-Essex-esque tan before heading over to Leon, in Brent Cross, to meet Mark, but I wasn’t quite sure if I’d pull it off.
“I do love food, though,” he continues, with a huge grin on his face. Before coming out to meet me, he admits he devoured a huge plate of chicken wings.
He is trying to be healthy. He’s on a strict exercise regime and trains four times a week, but when it comes to food, even he can’t say no.
“I went skiing a few weeks ago. In one day I had a large pizza at 3am, then I woke up and had a fry up. At around 11am I had a sausage roll and a cheese roll,”
He stops to take a breath - but he’s not finished. “For lunch I had McDonald's - three burgers. Dinner was a tikka masala, naan bread, special fried rice and loads of poppadoms.
“When I want to, I can eat anything.”
Blimey. That's impressive, even for me, and I'm the girl who once had McDonald's five times in the space of one day.
It’s fitting then, that he’s in the Prince Charles Drive, Hendon, shopping centre to launch its new Dine till 9 venture, in which restaurants will stay open an hour after the shops shut.
When the waiter comes round to take our order, he asks for a chicken salad with a side of halloumi cheese.
“Only half healthy, then!” I giggle.
“Wait, is halloumi fattening? Really? I suppose I’ll just have the salad then...no dressing...okay, dressing on the side.”
Just last week, his bride-to-be Michelle Keegan was named as Britain’s second most sexiest woman. So how does he feel about that?
As he tucks into his meal (a chicken salad, minus the halloumi in case you were wondering), a shifty look comes over his face.
“Oh - this is why I hate the news. Genuinely, I like everyone. I don’t want to be hated, but how do I answer that without sounding arrogant?
“This is why I hate it when my PR goes - I end up answering everything.
“No seriously though, I’m sure Michelle is seriously flattered, but she’s modest, and I’m proud of her.”
We move onto a “safer” topic - his upcoming career and what’s in store for the Essex hearthrob post his TOWIE days.
He admits he’ll continue his DJ set for Heart FM for as long as possible and that he’ll continue presenting hit show Surprise Surprise, which is due to start back up again in the summer.
But as for other projects, he remains guarded. “I’ve got good things coming up but because it’s not signed yet, I can’t tell you what it is.
“I still watch TOWIE but I’ll never consider going back. I usually say never say never, but no. As I’m growing, my TV shows do to.”
Mark is idolised by thousands of teenage girls across England - but does he ever get starstruck?
“I saw The Kooks coming down the stairs of a nightclub once and I thought, wow. But I’d love to meet Rihanna. She’s just out there, but I love that about her.”
And finally, what’s the best thing he’s learnt during his impressive career?
“Don’t go for dinner with journalists”, he jokes, before adding a thoughtful: “I know what I am, my family and friends know what I am, and that’s what’s important.”