When Sam Faiers announced her decision to step away from The Mummy Diaries this summer, fans were shocked.
The former Towie star – who cited it felt like the right time “to focus on new adventures” as her reason for leaving – was at the helm of the ITVBe hit reality series for nine successful seasons, alongside her sister Billie Shepherd, 31.
But after the announcement, fans were given the good news that spin-off Billie & Greg: The Family Diaries would continue to follow the Shepherd family on a new, exciting chapter.
Do you worry about following the success of The Mummy Diaries?
B: “Of course. Now it’s just solely us, it does feel like there’s a little bit more [pressure]. But it’s all good, we’ve really enjoyed filming the series and it’s been really fun. There’s been so much going on, as always, and I’m confident that people will like it.”
The renovation of your dream Essex home is a big focus – how’s it going?
G: “If we could start again, then maybe we would have bought something done. I don’t know. Because Billie is so busy week in, week out, and then we’ve got Arthur starting school, it’s so hard to cram it all in – plus a holiday to Greece right in the middle of the project, put us behind a bit.”
B: “In the show, you’ll see the whole journey of renovating the house, and anyone who has renovated will know how time-consuming it is. We knew it was going to be a huge project, but it’s a full-time job. You have to be on it every day for things to get done. For me, now, the busiest part is to come, with the interior side, which I’m really excited for. It will be worthwhile, but would we do it again? I’m not sure.”
Arthur has recently started school. How do you coordinate filming?
B: “During the day, they’ll just follow whatever we’re doing. Sometimes, we do film things after school or before school, like the morning or bedtime routine, or taking the kids somewhere after school. And then sometimes it’s weekends. It changes every week, so it’s a lot of organising and juggling.
“Nelly and Arthur have always been around a lot of adults and other children since they were born. But as much as they’re both really confident, we’re in a lot of situations when we’re out and about and people say, ‘Oh Nelly, can I get a photo with you?’ Sometimes Nelly can be like, ‘Yeah’, and I always say to her, ‘Oh darling, do you want a photo?’ because I don’t want her to think she’s got to do this. Other times she can be a little bit more shy and reserved, so it’s something we’re so aware of, especially now the kids are both in school.”
How do you manage their time on camera?
B: “The viewer loves to see the family home life and the kids, and whilst they’re happy doing it, we’re happy for the cameras to be there. But if Greg and I are filming something, we’ll just let the kids [play] – if they want to wander in, chat and be on camera, great. If not, they’re just off doing their own thing. So, we keep it really relaxed, because we can’t tell our seven- and four-year-old, ‘You’ve got to film this’. It’s not fair. We’re really aware of that every series.”
There must be days where you don’t feel like filming…
B: “Most of the time, we really enjoy the filming, but we do have those days when the [crew] pull up and you think, ‘Not today…’ but then you have a cup of tea, take 10 minutes, and crack on with it. But the good thing about our show is that you might feel a bit stressed out and down some days, and it’s not ideal, but people are appreciative of seeing that side of things. It makes it so worthwhile when other parents say to us, ‘Oh, thank you for showing that, it makes us feel normal’. People appreciate seeing that not everything’s all lovely, like on Instagram. The reality of it is Arthur is screaming, Nelly is screaming, and it’s all over the place sometimes!
Billie & Greg: The Family Diaries starts on ITVBe on Wednesday, October 6.