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Ex TOWIE star Lauren Pope says she knew it was time to leave because she just didn’t enjoy working on the last series, although she credits the structured reality show for toughening her up.

Lauren left TOWIE in October after being in it its premiere in 2010.

She told What’s on TV: “[Quitting] was something I thought about probably on and off for about a year. It was getting to the stage my work away from TOWIE was getting really affected. The schedule’s so last-minute on TOWIE, so there were things like business meetings I couldn’t go to and I had to cancel at the last minute…

“All that added to the fact the last series I really didn’t enjoy myself, it all just clicked, and I thought this is the right time. Yeah, it’s a big decision, but hopefully it’s the right one.”

Lauren credits TOWIE for making her stronger. “I learnt to realise it’s OK to be emotional. Before I joined TOWIE I’d never cry in front of anyone. Slowly, but surely that show like makes you break down SO much you start thinking, ‘It’s actually OK to be emotional’.

“I think it’s made me more confident. I went in as quite shy, but over the years you build up a barrier, a bit of a wall. You hear so much stuff [about yourself] coming in and out that you kind of build up this barrier and you become a stronger person.”

She wouldn’t miss the constant drama of the show and said the few weeks she’d been away from it had been the most drama-free in the past five years.

Lauren said she’d always look back fondly on TOWIE and would stay in touch with friends like Diags, Fran, Jess and Vas, but she added there were ‘quite a few’ faces she wouldn’t miss.

Lauren is concentrating on her Hair Rehab London business and her DJ career.

Watch Lauren talk about her massive social media following and how she deals with online trolls.