The Dan Wootton interview - Joey talks to Dan for the first time about the family tragedy he's kept secret

When I arrive at the comfortable Chigwell house where Joey Essex has lived for over a decade with his older sister Frankie and dad Donny, it’s hard not to notice a large black and white picture of a woman on the wall in the living room.

In fact, when you start to look around the room, you notice at least 10 framed photos of the beautiful brunette smiling at you.

The person in the picture is Joey’s mother Tina.

Joey’s become famous as the happy-go-lucky breakout star of The Only Way Is Essex – the man who makes us giggle at his vintage’ fashion and who’s solely responsible for introducing the word reem’ into our vocab.

But what most people don’t know is that he’s been hiding a heartbreaking family secret.

Joey was 10 when his mum tragically committed suicide.

He was at primary school when the 40-year-old mysteriously disappeared from the same house we’re sat in 11 years later. That moment changed his life for ever.

Until now Joey, 21, hasn’t spoken publicly about what happened and has deliberately refused to talk about it in front of the ITV2 cameras because he’s still so upset.

But today Joey’s decided to break his silence for the first and last time to address the rumours surrounding his mum.

At times it’s not easy and he frequently wipes away tears. But he knows this is something he needs to do.

It’s such a brave decision for you to speak about something so personal, Joey. Why have you decided to do this?

Some people think they know what happened but I was there that day and I’m the only one who knows how I coped.

I want people to hear it from my mouth once and for all. It’s also hard when people don’t know. I’ve got a funny dress sense, ain’t I? So some people would write: Did his mum dress him this morning?’

When I see that I think: I haven’t got a mum.’ I’d rather people know the truth.

You were so young at the time. What do you remember about your mum disappearing?

It was a month before I was leaving Chigwell Primary School. It was the weirdest thing. I ended up being around my cousin Chloe Sims‘ dad’s house.

And for three days I didn’t know where my mum was. I asked Dad: Where’s Mummy gone?’ And he told me: She’ll be back soon.’ I didn’t know. I was just a kid. I thought she might’ve gone to a hotel.

My dad must’ve been thinking: Where’s my wife gone?’ [Joey takes a deep breath and puts his head in his hands before breaking down] I didn’t think I’d cry. I don’t want to.

Read the full Dan Wootton interview with Joey Essex in Now magazine dated 24 October 2011 – out now!

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