Made In Chelsea ain’t exactly Quality Street

Her great-great-grandfather was the self-proclaimed Toffee King – a great Victorian entrepreneur who created Mackintosh’s, one of Britain’s best-loved companies.

A generation later, her great-grandfather and his brother, a devout Methodist and Sunday School Movement supporter, invented Quality Street.

Seventy-five years on, Millie Mackintosh has found fame of her own – as one of the most glamorous and colourful stars of hit reality TV show Made In Chelsea.

Tomorrow night, Millie, 22, takes centre stage in a dramatic final episode when she publicly accuses her former close friend Rosie Fortescue – herself the granddaughter of a decorated Second World War hero – of cheating with her boyfriend Hugo Taylor. ’  

Then she storms past 21-year-old Rosie, telling her, ‘You’re disgusting.’

It’s a typically dramatic scene from Millie, who, in one of the show’s other most memorable moments, was seen throwing a dirty Martini (one with a splash of olive brine) into the face of Hugo, an Old Harrovian who once dated Princess Eugenie. As the well-heeled Made In Chelsea set love to say, totes amaze!

So what does Millie, who is the lingerie-clad cover star of December’s FHM magazine, have to say about her illustrious family and her cheating friend?

And is it true, as critics claim, that everything you see on the new genre of ‘structured reality’ TV shows is made up?

Millie is adamant that her own storyline is  all too painfully real. As she told her 125,000 Twitter followers last week: ‘I can safely say that nothing that’s happened to me in these episodes has been “constructed” … the truth always comes out in the end.’

And yesterday she said: ‘None of it is scripted, all the conversations are completely real. The producers might help two people meet up in the same place if there is a conversation to be had, but that is it.’

Millie said uncovering Hugo and Rosie’s betrayal was ‘one of the hardest things I have gone through in my life’.

‘It was really unpleasant and shocking to find out about Rosie, especially when there were cameras everywhere. It was a nasty surprise and it is still all very raw.’

How does she feel now about Hugo – one of the show’s gaggle of cock-sure, handsome, wealthy (and very arrogant) men?

‘I am moving on, I have nothing to say to him. This has given me closure and made me realise that I have to stop pining after him.

‘I’m thinking of the future now and Christmas is a great time to be single, – lots of exciting parties and meeting different people. I’m confident that I will meet a nice man. But I know from what’s happened that I will be slower to trust him.’

Of the Martini-throwing incident, an unrepentant Millie says: ‘That’s had the biggest reaction with people. Sometimes I’ll be in Tesco or the bank and someone will come up to me and be, like, “You go, girl.”

‘I’ve had amazing support from strangers, because obviously a lot of girls have been cheated on.’
Millie’s glittering and dramatic  London lifestyle couldn’t be further removed from that of her great-great grandfather John Mackintosh and  his wife Violet who in 1890 bought a  pastry shop in Halifax, West Yorkshire, with their £100 life savings.  

Violet, who had been a confectioner’s assistant before her marriage, ran the shop while John continued to work at a cotton mill.

In order to attract customers, they decided to sell a special toffee and Violet developed a recipe that blended the traditional, brittle English butterscotch with soft American caramel. They sold it as Mackintosh’s Celebrated Toffee and it ultimately transformed the popular understanding of toffee, previously a description of any sugar or boiled sweet.

It turned out that John Mackintosh had a nose for marketing and publicity that clearly runs in the family genes.

Calling himself the Toffee King, he began printing pamphlets advertising ‘The King Of All The Toffees’ and distributing them at the Saturday afternoon market when workers had a half-holiday and a weekly wage packet in their hand.

In 1902 he began a pioneering national press campaign, buying space in the Daily Mail, Britain’s most popular mass-market newspaper, and employing graphics and cartoons while his competitors confined themselves to wordy descriptions.
By 1914 Mackintosh’s had spread to America, Germany, Australia and Canada and employed 1,000 people. 

After John’s death in 1920, his sons Harold and Douglas – Millie’s great-grandfather – took charge and the company went on to invent Quality Street (1936) Rolo (1938) Caramac (1959) and Toffee Crisp (1963).

In 1969, the company merged with Rowntree’s to form Rowntree Mackintosh, which was itself taken over by Nestle in 1988.

‘I’m very proud of our family story,’ says Millie who, when she isn’t throwing cocktails on TV, works as a make-up artist and hopes to set up her own make-up line.

‘Every time I see a family buying a box of Quality Street for Christmas, it makes me smile.

‘Our family are passionate cooks and I have an awful sweet tooth.’

But what do her parents Nigel and Georgina, who live in a £1.4 million house in Bath, make of her reality-TV role? ‘When I agreed to do it, I told my father about the show and I think he thought it was going to be one man with a camera following me around. Their generation doesn’t really understand what reality TV is.

‘I told my mother to watch The Only Way Is Essex and said our show would be something similar.

‘She was horrified and thought it was pointless.

‘But now, this far in, they are very happy for me and its success. Before every episode, I’m careful to brief them about what is going to happen so there won’t be any shocks.

‘They don’t like seeing me upset on the show and at particular upsetting times have asked if I wanted to walk away. But I’m committed and just because it’s difficult, that doesn’t mean I would walk away.

‘My grandparents watch it on Tuesday when it’s on earlier in the day and they are cool about it.

‘My grandmother said to me, “Oh I’m so proud to see your face in the Radio Times, darling,” and she said I should smile more.’

And what about her decidedly  risque FHM photoshoot – the most modest picture from which is the main illustration on this page?

‘I was at home when that came out and my father was reading it over my shoulder, which made me cringe.

‘He didn’t say anything. He doesn’t love it, but he did email it to my grandparents, who didn’t like that  I said fuck in the interview.

‘They said nothing about the photographs, amazingly.’

Millie’s bete noire Rosie is a Goldsmiths history of art graduate whose grandfather, Brigadier Arthur Henry Grenville Fortescue, fought with the Coldstream Guards in the Second World War, in which he was wounded, mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross.

Rosie hopes her TV exposure will help her launch a career in fashion. She runs a blog called atfashionforte.com, which details all the outfits she wears during the show.

What do her parents, fine-art  consultant Nicholas and Tessa, who live in a £1 million home near South  London’s Clapham Common, make of what they’ve seen on TV?

‘I never watch it with them,’ Rosie says. ‘I always watch it with the cast, but they are happy for me and they understand how important my fashion blog is to me. I never do  anything that would put them in  a situation where they would be embarrassed.

‘I think I have remained grounded throughout the show.’

But she does admit last week’s revelation that she was the mystery woman Hugo cheated on Millie with has made her the target of abuse on Twitter – particularly since Made In Chelsea viewers had previously seen her let slip to Hugo that Millie had once cheated on him. 

‘People are very fast to judge events when they don’t know the full story. I don’t tweet people back to defend myself. I want to maintain my dignity and they will see it all play out, in a much more calm way than they expect.

‘There is nothing but a brotherly and sisterly relationship between Hugo and me. He is one of my closest friends and I had to tell him  that Millie cheated on him too because he was beating himself up so much and he wasn’t his normal, happy self.’

Although the current Made In Chelsea series finishes tomorrow night, Rosie and the rest of the cast are optimistic about a third being commissioned – and there is also a feature-length Christmas special to look forward to.

For her part, Rosie insists that working alongside Millie won’t be too awkward and the pair are still friends. Millie, however, sees things very differently.

‘She’s not my friend. I don’t know why she said we were friends – we are not. During filming today, she did something that proves again she is certainly not my friend.’

In other words, Rosie – or Hugo – shouldn’t expect to find any Quality Street labelled with love from Millie under their Christmas tree.

by Lorelle Heath

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