The residents of Titchfield have seen a familiar face on Saturday night prime-time TV for the past five weeks.
Former carnival queen Grace Levy, who lives in the village near Fareham, has been among girls competing for a date on top TV show Take Me Out.
Viewers saw Grace get a date with Andy in last weekend’s episode. This Saturday you can tune in to see how their trip to the Isle of Fernandos went.
The 22-year-old model got involved in ITV1’s dating game after watching the second series.
She says: ‘When it finished, there was an advert inviting people to apply to be in the next series. Me and my friends filled in the application form for a laugh.
‘I didn’t hear anything for six months and I totally forgot about it. Then I got a phone call asking me to audition.
‘I thought, “I’m still single, why not!”.’
The series was filmed in Maidstone, Kent over two weeks in November.
Grace says: ‘I met a fantastic set of girls. It had felt like I was the only single girl in the world for a while because all my friends have got boyfriends, so it was good to hear everyone else’s tragic dating stories.
‘It was like one long hen party. Everyone had so much in common and got on so well.’
Grace says filming was tiring.
‘You’ve got 30 girls who need to get glammed-up and only so many make-up artists and hairdressers, so you get up early and spend most of the day sitting in chair with people fussing over you. Then there are rehearsals and filming goes on until late,’ she explains.
But it was made easier by the show’s host (and Peter Kay’s comedy partner) Paddy McGuinness, who really got involved with the contestants, says Grace.
‘He’s so nice, you forget he’s a celebrity. When the cameras aren’t rolling, he comes up and asks how you are. He’s just such a nice guy.’
Despite the girls all getting along so well, the atmosphere is competitive. Grace adds: ‘When you get your light turned out, you feel really gutted.’
She admits that she particularly liked Tom (who was tall with blond hair and blue eyes), but hers was the first light he turned off.
And there were some guys Grace was put off by from the start.
‘They were all nice guys but, because I’m so tall [she’s 5ft 11in] and I like wearing heels, I didn’t go for any of the short guys.’
Grace says she was looking for a more macho man than most of the contestants who came down the ‘love lift’
‘A lot of guys come down the lift covered in fake tan and face cream and their eyebrows are done. I thought “just bring me a real man”, then Andy came down.
‘He has dreadlocks and he’s rough around the edges.
‘In his VT [pre-recorded footage] he seemed like a really nice guy,’ says Grace about why she left her light on for Andy.
‘He’s a hippy and he works for Greenpeace. I do charity work, so we have a lot in common in that respect.
‘He’s not my usual type, but I’d got to the point where I just wanted to go on date with someone I could get along with and have a good time,’ Grace adds.
Hers was the only light left on for Andy after all the other girls rejected him.
She says: ‘I thought about turning my light off. But he’s such a nice guy, so genuine, he didn’t deserve a blackout. So I took a risk and we had a lovely date.’
Grace won’t give away much about the date before it’s screened on Saturday, but she reveals: ‘It went really well.’
However, she admits that she hasn’t seen Andy (who lives in London) since their date, although they have spoken on the phone.
‘If we were in the same place at the same time, I think we’d hook up for a drink, but we won’t be going out of our way to see each other,’ says Grace.
Grace has lived in Titchfield all her life and studied at Crofton School in Stubbington and Bay House Sixth Form in Alverstoke before heading to the University of the West of England in Bristol to take a degree in psychology.
Last year, Grace was a finalist in Miss Great Britain, part of Miss Universe. And she’s now in the running for the Miss Hampshire title, which could see her go on to the Miss World competition.
The Miss Hampshire live final takes place at West Quay shopping centre in Southampton on February 24. To vote for Grace, text ‘MISSHAMPSHIRE08’ to 63333 before noon on February 24.
TAKE ME OUT
Take Me Out sees 30 single girls line up, each with a light. A single man must impress the girls enough for them to keep their lights on.
If they decide they are not interested in him, they turn their lights off.
Three rounds see pre-recorded footage of the man talking abut himself, footage from a friend or family member and a performance-style round where he must demonstrate some sort of prowess.
If all the lights are turned off, it’s a ‘blackout’ and the man goes home without a date.
If more than one light is left on, the power is transferred to the man, who must then turn off the lights of the girls he does not want to date, narrowing it down to two.
The guy then asks a question to the girls to help him choose.
As each of the girls gets a date, they’re replaced on the panel by another girl.
Three guys come on each episode and in the next week’s episode there is footage of the dates from the previous weeks.
Paddy McGuinness has a number of catchphrases on the show, such as ‘no likey, no lightey’ and ‘if you’re turned off, turn off’. But the one of the most anticipated parts of the programme is hearing what metaphor he’ll use as the man descends the ‘love lift’ to make his first appearance.
Past examples include:
Let the winkle see the picker
Let the toad see the hole
Let the whoopee see the cushion
Let the sausage see the roll
Let the prawn see the cracker
Let the treasure see the chest
Let the rubber see the duck
There’s been controversy about contestants this series, with one revealed to have a criminal record for violence and both male and female contestants discovered to have worked as escorts.
Grace says: ‘I suppose everyone’s got skeletons in their closet, but obviously it’s not the best thing to have a shady background if you’re going to be on TV.’
Of allegations about a wild party that reportedly took place during filming, Grace says: ‘I wasn’t there. It’s a shame because it reflects badly on the other people on the show.’