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The Circle champion Natalya: I felt sick and guilty after win

The military police officer won out in a tense tie-break.


Natalya and Emma Willis (Channel 4/PA)

Natalya and Emma Willis (Channel 4/PA)

Natalya and Emma Willis (Channel 4/PA)

The Circle champion Natalya has admitted she felt sick and guilty after winning the £100,000 prize by pretending to be a man named Felix.

The 30-year-old military police officer, from Surrey, triumphed in Friday night’s final after adopting a fake identity – known as “catfishing” – for the duration of her time on the show.

The Channel 4 reality programme, now in its third series, sees players communicate and compete with each other online while housed separately in a block of flats and was pre-recorded months in advance due to the pandemic.


The Circle final – studio (2)

The Circle final – studio (2)

The Circle final – studio (2)

Following her win, Natalya told the PA news agency: “How I felt back then was sick. I literally felt like, ‘What?’ I honestly did not expect it would be me.

“I think you can see by looking at me. I was like, ‘You have got this Manrika, you have absolutely got this’. When I saw Felix’s bloody weasel face (on the screen) I was like, ‘Oh God, this is it’.

“Obviously it is an amazing feeling but you do have a bit of guilt that comes with it as well. I feel good now because I have had seven months to process it. I feel a lot better now than I did then.

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“Back then I felt like this fake character had won it but now I feel like I won it. It is good that I have had that reflection, that time to sit on it, because it has really helped.”


The Circle final (6)

The Circle final (6)

The Circle final (6)

Natalya tied with 24-year-old recruitment consultant Manrika, from Birmingham, but won out after earning the most first place votes across the series.

She said she hoped to buy a house with her winnings after living in shared military accommodation for the last few years.

“It is really boring, I want to buy a house and then I will give some to my family,” she said.

“Because I live in the military we all live in university accommodation and it is one shower for six to eight people so it is quite grim in a sense, so I would like to have my sense of space.

“I am 30 years old and I don’t have a home. It’s quite sad. ”

Natalya joined The Circle in episode five playing as 29-year-old soldier Felix.

On two occasions, Felix was voted by his fellow contestants as “influencer” and avoided a double-blocking twist, but ended up last in the ratings during one important vote.

However, he was carried to the final by a strong bond with players Manrika, Andy and Dorothy.

Natalya said she based Felix on the men she worked alongside in the military.

She said: “I am surrounded by guys at work and of course I feel safe and happy, there are a lot of women in the military and all the barriers have lifted, but you do hear that lad banter.

“Everyone was watching and were like, ‘She is not speaking like a boy’ but I think I was telling everybody what they wanted to hear.”

Natalya joked she was “nicer, obviously” than her male colleagues in the military, adding: “I didn’t bring the horrible chat. I was the sweet guy on there.”

In 2018, Alex Hobern scooped the cash prize after pretending to be a woman to the other players.

The Circle is available to stream on demand on All 4.

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