Television bosses have revealed that they originally planned to set the hit show The Only Way Is Essex in Dorset instead of the eponymous county.

The show – which has made stars of its participants including Amy Childs, Mark Wright and Sam Faiers – was due to take place among a bunch of surfers on a Bournemouth beach.

However TV executive Ruth Wrigley said she moved the location of the ITV2 hit after a suggestion from the network’s commissioning editor Claire Zolkwer.

“It was set on a beach in this surfy resort in Bournemouth,” she said.

“There was this surfy scene going on and Claire said, ‘You know what, if you can set it in Essex I might be interested’.”

Zolkwer, meanwhile, added that the show was originally called Totally Essex, but she was inspired to change the title after finding the 80s Yazz chart-topper The Only Way Is Up on her iPod.

The show, which Wrigley described as ‘stage-managed reality’, has become a surprise hit and won a Bafta earlier this year. The third series of the show is due to begin in September

One of TOWIE’s biggest stars, Amy Childs, is currently appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.