FORMER the Only Way Is Essex favourite Mick Norcross has blasted Jennifer Saunders for saying she would rather shoot herself than watch the “despicable” show.

The comedian and writer, 55, said Towie and other constructed reality shows, including Made in Chelsea, were misleading viewers by arrogantly pretending they reflected real life.

Ab Fab’s creator told the Radio Times: “I would rather shoot myself than watch either.

“I find them both horrid. The way those programmes make people behave is despicable.

“The whole conceit that it’s real life is, by any stretch of the imagination, ridiculous.”

However, Mr Norcross, 49, who featured in the show until last year, said Jennifer’s scathing attack was just a cheap pop for publicity. He said: “What do you expect from an entertainment show?

“She fully appreciates what entertainment is about.

“It’s not a reality show and everyone knows that, and if there’s a genuine relationship then the producers want to hook in on that because it’s good viewing.

“With some of the youngsters they are happy to go along to get more airtime.

“Maybe Jennifer Saunders is lacking a bit of airtime herself.

Maybe she wants to bring herself to the forefront as she has a new show out.”

Asked if he had taken part in any “fake” storylines himself, Mick, who lives in Bulphan and plans to revamp the Grand Hotel in Leigh, said: “From my own experience the show has been based on my business – the Sugar Hut in Brentwood – and my family.

“I might have been guided towards certain things I wouldn’t necessarily do if I wasn’t on television, but only light-hearted things.

“I don’t know why people take a swipe at it. It’s very successful.

“It’s being shown in 74 countries and they couldn’t be buying into it if it was rubbish.”

The eleventh series of the show starts on ITV2 on Sunday, February 23.