Love Island’s Joey Essex ‘was sent into villa by late mum’ as he’s ‘ready to have kids’ says sister Frankie

Joey and Frankie Essex
-Credit: (Image: Piers Allardyce/REX/Shutterstock)

When Joey Essex first graced our screens on The Only Way Is Essex in 2011, he was a fresh-faced (and very tanned) ladies’ man.

Now, with 13 years of reality TV under his belt – including stints on Celebs Go Dating, I’m A Celeb and Dancing On Ice – it seems Joey, 33, is looking to settle down and perhaps start a family of his own.

And how does he plan to do that? On ITV’s Love Island, of course. Viewers were shocked when Joey entered the villa last week, so to find out why he’s decided to go on the show and the type of woman he might couple up with, we caught up with one of the people who knows him best, his sister Frankie Essex.

“We’ve all watched Joey grow up on TV,” Frankie, 36, says. “He’s definitely looking for love in the villa but he needs a woman who will tell it like it is and isn’t with him for fame.”

Frankie – who also appeared on ITVBe’s TOWIE and has two-year-old twins Logan and Luella with partner Luke Love – has always been Joey’s biggest supporter, especially after the pair sadly lost their mum to suicide when Joey was just 10 years old – something Joey has talked about in the villa.

“I was proud of Joey for doing that,” Frankie says. “Joey is keeping her memory alive.”

Joey Essex, Love Island
Joey has entered the Love Island villa in a shock surprise -Credit:ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Here, Frankie lifts the lid on the real reason why Joey signed up for the show, how she believes her mum sent Joey into the villa, and whether kids could be on the cards for him soon…

Hi, Frankie! Can you believe Joey is on Love Island?

It’s so exciting! Every night I can’t help but scroll through social media to see what everyone is saying about him. I’m so supportive of everything Joey does and want him to find love in the villa, but I’m also keeping an eye on who he’s partnered up with to see what people are saying about her.

Do you think he was nervous entering the villa?

He’s just being his genuine self, but I reckon he was nervous when he walked in. It looks like he’s settled in quickly though. He’s come such a long way since his TOWIE days, I’m really proud of him. In a way, the nation has watched Joey grow up on TV.

Joey is no stranger to reality TV. What makes Love Island different?

I’m not sure, but I do think he’s at a point where he’s finally ready to settle down and find someone.

Do you think Joey wants children one day?

I hope so, I think seeing me as a mum has made him want the same. I’d love a niece or nephew. I just love babies, I truly believe I was born to be a mum… and hopefully an aunt!

He seems to be looking for lasting love in the villa…

He really is, 100%. I think all Islanders are, to be honest, except maybe the odd few who could be playing a game. Joey has done it all before and dated in the public eye, so he genuinely just wants to settle down now.

-Credit:Getty Images
-Credit:Getty Images

Does he have a type?

No, it’s more about personality for Joey. It’s also about building trust and for people to get to know him for who he really is. He doesn’t need a “yes” girl though or someone who is going to follow him around all day. He needs space and a woman who knows what they want in life. Someone who can keep him on his toes and tells it like it is. It’s hard to say who I’d like to see him partnered up with though, it’s still early days and things change every episode.

Do you think he has matured since his TOWIE days?

Yeah, definitely. I think he’s realised he’d like to find a girl who wants him for him and not because he’s Joey Essex. He’s got such a kind heart and would love to meet someone who doesn’t know who he is, but that would be difficult now. It’ll be interesting to watch him as the Islanders get to know the real him and learn his mannerisms [laughs]. He always says the most random things.

It’s nice that viewers are seeing a softer side to him, for example when he opened up about your mum…

Totally. It can be hard talking about someone who has passed away. It’s Men’s Health Week focusing on mental health now [10-16 June], so it was nice for Joey to open up about her. I was really proud of him because it’s something you never really get over, you just learn to live with it. You need to keep their memory alive, and Joey is doing that. I actually said to one of my friends that I believe our mum put him on the show – she would have loved to see him settle down. I think she would be really proud of us both.

Joey and Frankie Essex with mum
The siblings sadly lost their mum when they were children

Is there any advice you wish you could give him?

Not yet [laughs], but I’m sure there will be. One thing I will say is keep the kissing under the covers. I don’t like watching my brother kiss – it’s just weird!

It must be lovely to see him happy. Has he had his heart broken in the past?

Oh yeah. He just wants to meet someone but it’s not gone to plan so far for him. That’s all in the past now though. For Love Island, I think the real test will be when he and whoever he is with go out into the real world. People can change when they come out.

Is it true you had no idea Joey was going into the villa?

I honestly had no idea – even our dad didn’t know. Just before he left though, Joey popped over to my house for the twins’ second birthday. He must have been busy so that meant a lot to me. I do remember him being a bit jittery though, and thinking, “What is going on?” I even joked, “You’re not going on Love Island, are ya?” but then forgot about it. His agent said I was the only person to guess. I obviously know him very well!

Original TOWIE cast
Joey found fame on TOWIE -Credit:ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Have you received lots of messages of support?

I’ve had so many people getting in touch – friends, family and former TOWIE stars. One of my mum’s friends messaged to say that it was lovely to see him in there. I think Joey is someone people naturally root for – young girls fancy him, mums love him and men think he’s funny.

How are your twins Logan and Luella? We can’t believe they’re two now!

Every day they’re doing something new or different. Luella recently drew on the sofa with some chalk and blamed it on the “naughty fairy” – they’re keeping me busy. They’re at the age where they just love exploring. They’ll be off to nursery soon so
I need to make the most of these moments while I can.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can contact Samaritans in the UK and Ireland on freephone 116 123, or email or