Maria Fowler has claimed she left 'The Only Way is Essex' because she refused to date Mick Norcross.

Maria Fowler

Maria Fowler

The 31-year-old reality TV star turned her back on the ITVBe show in 2011 because producers allegedly "encouraged" her to enjoy a romance with the businessman - who is 23 years older than her - and implied if she didn't that they would find another girl willing to do so to take her place on screen.

Writing in her first post on her new blog, Maria said: "At this point in the show I was being 'encouraged' to date Mick Norcross on camera, if I didn't do this I was reassured that "There are a lot of girls who want to be on the show who will". I loved Mick- as a friend, he is a genuine nice man.

"I had a meeting with the TOWIE producers at the end of series 3, they asked where my role in the show was heading, I didn't know, they didn't know.

"I was spending more time back in my hometown Derby with my partner at the time Lee (where he was playing football), and I guess you could say that was it. I didn't fight for my place on the show. I simply agreed that I didn't have a role (if I wasn't going to be dating cast members) and by mutual consent I left."

Maria's decision to leave the programme was also prompted by the fact false allegations that she had worked as an escort began to circulate online and, in 2013, she attempted to commit suicide.

She explained: "In that moment everything I had and everything I was fell apart, I felt like someone had ripped my soul out and had thrown it into a fire, I was existing and not living."

However, after years of working on her self-esteem and managing her depression, Maria fell in love with her current fiance Kelvin Batey - whom she's set to marry next year - and has 16-month-old daughter Evie with him.

She said: "It took me 3 and a half years (and a terrible relationship in between) to realise my worth, to find my calling in life and to understand what life is about. I did some stupid things, I made some mistakes. I thought being seen with other guys would get his attention. I thought being papped was important, I thought my worth was based on the number of followers I had. I thought partying was the answer. Only finally when i healed, met my partner Kelvin and became a mother did I realise the true value of myself and the meaning behind the next chapter of my life. (sic)"