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Leave my beloved Essex alone

Three cast members from The Only Way Is Essex. Neil Mockford/GC Images

After years as the butt of the joke, my beloved home of Essex is having a serious rebrand, says Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. Forget the fake tan, reality TV shows and blindingly white teeth you associate with the county – Essex council is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to reposition the area as some sort of “undiscovered oasis of culture”. Drab, touristy adverts will boast of scientists, landscapes by Constable, Michelin-starred chefs and Boudicca’s campaign of resistance against the Romans. This “forgotten Essex”, we’ll be told, is a place for oysters and wine (“as in rolling vineyards, not as in getting hammered on pink prosecco”).

What a shame. “The old, rackety Essex is the one I actually loved.” The hit reality TV series The Only Way Is Essex has already rebranded the county as a “cheeky, sexy, loudly inappropriate cultural and economic phenomenon”. That’s infinitely more interesting than a plain old cultural hotspot. Attempting to rebrand Brentwood as the historically significant birthplace of the Peasants’ Revolt – “rather than as the home of the beauty salon that introduced a goggle-eyed nation to the concept of sticking jewels on your bikini wax” – is a big mistake. Essex doesn’t need reinventing; it’s perfect as it is.

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