Northern Ireland

From Love Island to Big Brother - NI's notable reality stars

Maura Higgins Image copyright ITV
Image caption Maura Higgins from County Longford has helped bring Irish reality stars back into the limelight

It might not be "100% your type on paper" but, with the Love Island final having aired on Monday night, a lot has been said about the Irish stars "carrying" this series of the show.

Limerick professional rugby player Greg O'Shea was crowned the winner along with his partner Amber Gill, while Maura Higgins, a model from County Longford, was another of the finalists.

Meanwhile Yewande Biala, a first class honours scientist from Dublin, was "dumped" from the villa last month.

This isn't the first time reality TV contestants from the island of Ireland have stolen the show, so we took a look back at some of the most memorable stars the country had to offer.

Omagh's Thomas McDermott, known fondly to viewers as "Tyrone Tom", was among the first people to enter Big Brother's house as part of the show's first series in 2000.

Big Brother (and sisters)

He went on to marry fellow contestant, housemate Claire Strutton and moved to Spain. The couple had a baby, but split a year later.

Tom is now remarried and runs his own property company in his home on the coast of Cornwall.

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Tyrone Tom went on to marry fellow Big Brother contestant Claire Strutton

Orlaith McAllister also burst onto screens via the Big Brother house in 2005.

Ever since, she has been no stranger to the limelight - the Miss Northern Ireland runner-up appeared in last year's BBC series Beauty Queen and Single.

Her co-star in that series was former Miss Derry Ashleigh Coyle, who was also a former Big Brother contestant - she finished as runner-up in 2014.

Image caption Big Brother star Orlaith McAllister is no stranger to our screens

Meanwhile, back on Love Island, east Belfast's Adam Maxted came to the attention of audiences via the show's second series in 2016.

Apprentice success

He finished fourth after coupling up with fellow contestant Katie Salmon.

They didn't remain together after the show ended, but Adam did go on to pursue his dream career - as a professional wrestler.

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Adam Maxted swapped the Love Island villa for a wrestling ring

Meanwhile - cue the theme music - The Apprentice has been another source of Northern Ireland reality TV contestants.

Grainne McCoy, from Dromintee, County Armagh, made the final five of The Apprentice in 2016.

The make-up artist became pregnant at aged 15, while still in school, but went back four weeks after giving birth to get her exams, despite her former head of year doubting she would return.

She now runs her own salon, and works with numerous organisations for young people in Northern Ireland and the UK, offering makeup programmes for the unemployed.

Image caption Grainne McCoy apeared on The Apprentice

Her impact came after previous stars, including Cookstown-born 'Jedi' Jim Eastwood, who made a major impression in the 2011 series, and Londonderry-born Dr Leah Totton who won in 2013.

In the music world, Dungiven's Eoghan Quigg was only 16 when he shot to fame on The X Factor in 2008, finishing an impressive third behind JLS and Alexandra Burke.

After the show, Eoghan continued his music career, but after three years travelling between London and home, he became lonely and returned to his old school in Dungiven at 19 to do his fifth-year exams.

Now a presenter for Q Radio, he continues to perform in bars and clubs all around Ireland.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eoghan Quigg came third on the 2008 series of The X Factor

Northern Ireland contestants haven't just excelled in the worlds of singing and business - they've also proved their mettle in the toughest of environments.

Take Louise McCullough, a surgeon originally from Portglenone, who was crowned the first female victor in Channel 4's gruelling SAS: Who Dares Wins.

And let's not forget the stars of Northern Ireland's first home-grown reality show There's No Place Like Tyrone, which aired on BBC One NI in June.

The show made local celebrities out of couples such as Audrey and Melvin Keys, who have been compared to TOWIE's Gemma and Arg.

Image caption Bobby's escapades on There's No Place Like Tyrone helped turn him into a local celebrity

Then, of course, there's the show's star, Bobby Patterson, who amused viewers with his escapades, including lingerie shopping for partner Lynda Hamilton.

Although as Bobby says himself: "I don't think Love Island has anything to worry about from us."

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