Where are Lancashire’s reality TV stars now?

Matthew Wilcock
Matthew Wilcock
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Preston-born Matthew Wilcock is the latest reality TV star from Lancashire to be thrust into the spotlight after winning the BBC’s Great Pottery Throwdown.

Dale Fox caught up with four other reality show contestants from the region to see what they are up to following their stints with stardom.

Kirsty Henshaw

Kirsty Henshaw

Kirsty Henshaw

Kirsty Henshaw, 30, from Penwortham, appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2010. After securing an investment for her ready meal business, she transformed it into a multi-million pound brand, ‘Kirsty’s’. Her food is now found on the shelves of Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and other supermarkets.

“When I appeared on the show I got an investment and worked with Peter and Duncan until 2013 then myself and my business partner bought them out.

“I worked really hard for 5 years and built up a brand. I’ve grown the company to be a £4.5 million retail brand in kids and adults healthy ready meals.

JonJo Kerr

JonJo Kerr

“I wasn’t expecting my appearance on the show to be life changing but I had no other way to get that type of money so I thought I’d give it a try and thankfully it worked out.

“I’m in London every week but I love to come home to Preston because the people here are just so much nicer and friendlier. Everyone’s supportive and they have been for years – it’s a really good place for that.

“It’s nice that when you come from nothing to be grow a successful company and have the support of the community still.”

Jonjo Kerr

Dorret Conway

Dorret Conway

Jonjo Kerr, 32, from Chorley, was a contestant on the X Factor in 2011. He didn’t chase the limelight after leaving the show but still sings every now and then.

“I wouldn’t say I’m working in showbiz so much these days but I’m still gigging. I mostly do weddings and private functions.

“I’ve done a few light switch-ons – this is the first year I haven’t done any actually.

“It was pretty mad after I was on the show. I went straight from X-Factor to Afghanistan with the army. For me it was a bit mental, a bit crazier than it was for most people.

Jenna Whittingham

Jenna Whittingham

“I finished the TV stuff with the X-Factor in December then in February I was in Afghanistan.

“It was a shock to the system – I went from Saturday nights having chats with Robbie Williams and having a drink with JLS to being out in Afghanistan with the army.

“I’m glad I didn’t chase music and chose to stay with the army. The pride I have for going there – I think I’m more well respected among my friends for doing that.

“Half of my friends were expecting me to give it up and chase my dreams of being in the music business but I didn’t – I stayed true to my mates. I stuck with them and went to Afghanistan.

“Preston lights switch-on was one of the best gigs I’ve ever done. There were about 10,000 people.

“Just before I went to Afghanistan, I recorded a song with the Military Wives which went to Number One while I was over there. When I got back I got to sing it in front of the Queen at the Royal Albert Hall.

“The amount of support I got from people from Chorley was amazing. If I won the Euromillions I’d still stay in Chorley without a doubt.

“That’s my home and I have a nice life there and I love the people I’m surrounded by.”

“I don’t get any trouble from people at all. If I go out, people ask me about X Factor and I don’t mind talking about it. Unless you’ve done it, you’ll never know so I don’t mind repeating myself.

“It doesn’t happen so much now but people still stop me and ask for photos, tell me they enjoyed watching me, watching my videos on YouTube and it’s nice. It’s humbling.

“I’d like to thank people who’ve come to my gigs - thanks to every one of them. Thanks for having a good time. I just want people to have a good time, I’m not bothered about money. I just want people to enjoy themselves.”

Dorret Conway

Dorret Conway, 53, from Penwortham, was a contender on The Great British Bake Off in 2015. After her appearance, she is looking to whisk up a career in the food industry.

“My sister bugged me about going on Bake Off me ever since the very first episode of the first series. She called me in the middle of it and said ‘Have you seen this new programme? You’d be great on it.’

“It was very demanding to be a contestant. The baking itself wasn’t so much a challenge – it was more what they wanted you to achieve in the time. They wanted originality so it was very challenging.

“The other contestants were great – everybody was really nice.

“My life has completely transformed after being on the show. I’m trying to forge a career in food off the back of that experience.

“At the moment I’m making decorations for a Christmas cake which is going to be featured in a TV show.

“I want to start baking clubs in schools – I’m working on that at the moment – and I’m looking to create my own range of deserts.

“The support from the people in Lancashire has been absolutely brilliant and unbelievable.

“It’s a nice feeling when I see someone in the supermarket who recognises me as it puts a smile on their face and they’re like: ‘Oh my god, it’s Dorret from Bake Off’ and we have a little chat.

“It’s nice because they’re smiling.”

“It does confirm what you think about the friendliness and the warmth of people in the North.

“Preston will always continue to be my base. I was born in Preston, went to school in Preston, went to uni in Preston. My family’s in Preston, my friends are in Preston.

“We complain about Preston but it has lots of plusses - we have a lot of things going for us.”

Jenna Whittingham

Jenna Whittingham, 29, from Penwortham, was a contestant on The Apprentice in 2012. She has a business degree from UCLan and runs Beauty & the Boutique in Penwortham.

“After The Apprentice it was great. It was great publicity for the business and we became more well known. If you come across well on The Apprentice it puts you in good stead.

“My dad put a massive sign outside the shop saying I’d been on the show, which was highly embarrassing!

“I was able to refurbish the shop as it got busier. We opened another shop while I was on the show which didn’t take off unfortunately, but we concentrated everything on the current one and things are going great.

“I’ve given talks at schools and I do a lot of college talks for business students.

“I didn’t go on the show for the fame – I was thinking about the business opportunities – so I never pushed myself into the limelight because I was very passionate about the business.

“I’m doing my teacher training at the moment and am hoping to offer salon-owning training in the future and I’ve just had a baby – Darcy Florence.

“We’re a big community in Penwortham and everyone supports one another.”

In a way I’m glad I didn’t win. I’ve got a really amazing team here - Craig, Jenny and Lizzy.

“I don’t regret going on the show at all - it’s made me more ambitious.”