Joey Essex has reportedly quit The Only Way Is Essex in favour of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! – which he hopes will make him as big a star as Mark Wright.
The Reality TV star will be seen bidding farewell to fellow cast members of the ITV2 reality drama in its latest episode tonight – including his former fiancée Sam Faiers.
The 23-year-old’s departure will come four days ahead of the launch of the new series of I’m A Celebrity, which he’s all but confirmed to appear in.
His decision has apparently dealt a blow to TOWIE bosses, who were hoping to get him back on board in time for the planned Christmas special.
However, Joey is thought to be looking to follow in the footsteps of Mark – who also left TOWIE for I’m A Celeb in 2011, and went on to land presenting gigs on Take Me Out spin-off show ‘The Gossip’ and axed gameshow pilot ‘My Man Can’.
A source told the newspaper: “Joey dropped the bombshell the other day. He loves being on the show and it has made him a star. But lots of people have been offering him other stuff.
“He’s seen what the jungle did for Mark Wright and he wants a slice of the action. Towie is a good craic but the money isn’t good and you’re basically just a pawn in the producers’ game.”
Meanwhile, Joey’s spokesman said: “We have a couple of other projects planned for Joey and he will not be available for the Christmas Special this year.
“The producers have said that the door is always open to him, which he is very grateful for, and he hopes to return at some stage in the near future.”
A TOWIE source added that it now has an ‘open door policy’ on its stars appearing on other shows, with Mario Falcone having returned following his stint in Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year.
Chiefs were previously against cast taking on other work, in case the public subsequently stopped seeing them as ‘real people’.
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