'Joey Essex: Grief and Me' — the TOWIE star on coping with his mum's tragic death

Joey Essex contemplating what happened to his mother Tina when he was just a boy.
Joey Essex contemplating what happened to his mother Tina when he was just a boy. (Image credit: BBC)

Joey Essex: Grief and Me sees the reality star strip away his TOWIE persona and talk honestly and openly about the trauma of losing his mum, Tina, who took her own life when Joey was just ten. 

In the deeply personal hour-long documentary on BBC1, BBC Three and BBCiPlayer, Joey, now 30, finally gets therapy from clinical psychologist Dr Stephen Blumenthal. He also talks about what made him finally face his grief 20 years on and how reconnecting with past memories has helped him move forward.

Joey says: "People normally see me laughing and joking being Joey Essex. But I’ve kept a lot of stuff inside. Things that happened to me I haven’t been able to talk about. When I was 10 my mum took her own life and the truth is I’ve never been able to deal with it."

Here, we tell you everything you need to know about BBC documentary Joey Essex: Grief and Me

Joey Essex: Grief and Me release date

The documentary Joey Essex: Grief and Me will air on Thursday June 3, first on BBC3, then at 9pm on BBC1 before hitting BBCiPlayer.

Joey Essex on why he felt now was the right time to get therapy and make this film...

Joey says: "I’ve kept all this pain bottled up for 20 years, getting panic attacks, feeling anxious and pushing people away, but I can’t go on like this. Something’s got to change. That’s why I’ve got these habits of spending money. I’m trying to fill a gap but nothing seems to make me happy. 

"Turning 30 is also a big thing for me. I’ve been thinking that I need to grow up, I need to change and become a better person. I’d like to find real love, settle down and have a family of my own. I’m guessing that’s where you’d find happiness, but I’ve got to sort myself out first."

Joey recalls the moment he found out his mum had died...

"I remember the day when I got told my mum was gone. I remember my dad bending down and grabbing my head and telling me my mum was gone. I’ll never forget that. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember just screaming, not really actually understanding what my dad meant. I remember saying to myself, ‘it’ isn’t true, she’s coming back,’ and I sort of believed that."

Joey on how his mum’s death still affects him...

"After what happened to my mum my whole life was completely torn to pieces. My anxiety was through the roof and I used to go to hospital all the time thinking there was something wrong with me. My mum loved me but she left me. If she loved me that much why would she leave? I think I’ll always ask myself why. But I don’t talk to anyone about it, it’s all hidden. Twenty years on and I’m still struggling."

Support: Joey Essex has been very close to his dad Don.

Solid support... Joey Essex has a close bond with his dad Don. (Image credit: BBC)

Yes his cousin Chloe, sister Frankie, dad Don (above) and grandmother Linda all appear in the documentary. Joey says: "My dad has been through all of it. After my mum passed away, my dad brought me and my sister Frankie up alone and it must have been really tough for him. But he’s the first person I call when I’m upset. It doesn’t matter where he is, he’ll always answer the phone."

Joey Essex with Linda and sister Frankie.

Joey Essex with grandmother Linda and sister Frankie. (Image credit: BBC)

Joey Essex has had the support and love of his family and friends.

Joey Essex has had the support and love of his family and friends, including cousin Chloe. (Image credit: BBC)

Joey Essex on how therapy and making Joey Essex: Grief and Me has helped him process his grief...

Joey says: "All the memories are coming back that I normally keep hidden. But running away from memories hasn’t done me any favours at all. I had no idea about what would happen in therapy, but it’s already making me think a lot about who I am. It’s made me think about what I need to do to be happy and one of those things is to start properly reconnecting with my past. It’s been hard going through this whole process, but I feel a massive weight has lifted off my shoulders. I know I’ll never get over the trauma, but I’m just proud and glad I’ve started to face it."

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.