‘Great experiences and warm friendships’: An interview with Toff

Isabelle Burroughes 12 October 2017

I managed to catch up with Georgia Toffolo, or ‘Toff’ as she is otherwise known, after the Union’s reality TV debate. The title of the debate being ‘This House Would Rather be on Reality TV’, Toff was expected, alongside fellow Made in Chelsea co-star Sam Thompson and Love Island runner ups Marcel Sommerville and Gabby Allen, to defend her career in the industry and persuade the audience that reality TV was a positive and fulfilling occupation.

The reality stars took a serious grilling. One member of the audience claimed that their careers would lead to unfulfilled lives with little achievement, and another questioned Toff on what she would do when ‘her looks faded’. Toff pointed to the longevity of the series, and the fact that it has led to fellow co-stars Binky Felstead and Joshua ‘JP’ Patterson settling down and having a baby together. The sexism inherent in that kind of question is incredible, where it is assumed that a woman can only draw media attention and maintain a successful public profile when young and conventionally attractive.  It calls into question the intelligence of the supposed ‘academics’ of Cambridge, who chose to look at her career from such a superficial point of view.

Toff joined Made in Chelsea in its seventh series. Since then, she has been a prominent cast member, forming a close friendship with co-stars Mark Francis Vandelli and controversial Mimi Bouchard. She has also recently appeared on Channel 4’s Celebs Go Dating, notably going on a blind date with a Welsh stripper. Presumably, this was a world away from the white apartments of Kensington and Chelsea.

When I spoke to Toff after the debate, she seemed excited to continue her career on television. ‘I think my life’s going to carry on as it is… I see no reason to leave what I’m doing’, she says about the programme that has opened so many doors for her.

One of the big questions raised in the debate was whether the people we see on reality TV are accurate representations of themselves, or more like caricatures of their personality. I asked Toff whether she felt like people knew who she really was, simply by watching her every Monday night on E4. ‘Well I think it’s quite difficult, I mean you obviously can’t show me dancing on table tops, but I do think it is quite representational. The more time you spend on television the more of you people see, because you get more air time. If right at the beginning you had asked me that question I would have said no, I don’t think people see who I am. But now I’ve been through breakups, I’ve been through fun times, I’ve done it all! And I think then you get a better idea of who I really am’.

The star has had an emotional journey on the series, experiencing turbulent relationships with the likes of Francis Boulle and Sam Prince on screen, and explosive arguments with co-stars such as Liv Bentley. But these dramatic moments have been accompanied by great experiences and warm friendships. She looked back fondly at one of the most enjoyable moments of the show. ‘It was when I was living in the South of France. It was so funny, I was with Binky and Ollie. And we just laughed. It was amazing. Yeah, that summer was definitely my favourite’.

The show is also well known for its spin-off series which chronicle the affluent West Londoners’ travels to different locations, such as Ibiza and Los Angeles. I asked Toff what her favourite location was. ‘I really didn’t like it in LA’, she admits. ‘I was only 20 at the time. I mean, obviously I snuck out, but I did have problems with ID, and I just didn’t really like it. Whereas in the South of France, I mean everything was just amazing. Having a car and everything like that, it was just so nice’.

From speaking with Toff, I feel like the title of the debate was a little misguided. It doesn’t matter whether or not us Cambridge students would like to be on reality TV, or whether we see it as menial or mindless. What matters is that bright and ambitious people like Toff enjoy the career they have forged for themselves.  I feel sure that she will continue to appear on our screens for the foreseeable future.