Belfast Telegraph

There's No Place Like Tyrone: Reality show could make stars of farming couple


There Is No Place Like Tyrone. Audrey and Melvin
There Is No Place Like Tyrone. Audrey and Melvin
There Is No Place Like Tyrone - Lynda and Audrey
Helen Carson

By Helen Carson

Co Tyrone couple Melvin and Audrey Keys could be set to give TOWIE stars Gemma Collins and James 'Arg' Argent a run for their money when Northern Ireland's first reality show hits our screens tonight.

But the new stars of There's No Place Like Tyrone are more likely to be behind the wheel of a tractor than the latest sports car, and rounding up cattle for milking than sipping champagne.

While the latest BBC One NI series promises drama in the scenic rural county, teacher Audrey (39) and her farmer husband Melvin (43) don't think shows like Love Island - which returns tomorrow night - have anything to fear.

"Love Island could be in for some competition," he jokes, although the down-to-earth dad-of-two admits being filmed for the reality slot happened by accident.

"The researchers were due to meet Audrey for a chat about appearing on the show, but because she's a teacher her phone diverts calls to me," he explains.

"I got talking to the show producers and when they were next with Audrey they asked if I could come along too."

The parents to two children - Molly (11) and nine-year-old Zak - also see their lives taken up a lot of the time running the farm.

"As well as teaching, Audrey farms part-time," says Melvin. "But we make time at the weekend for our children."

He confesses to being more of a soap fan, tuning in regularly to EastEnders and Coronation Street rather than Keeping Up With The Kardashians: "I've never watched TOWIE or Made In Chelsea and neither has Audrey. We'd usually be doing other things. The kids are a bit too young to see them. We don't allow them to watch TV after a certain time of night anyway. They really want to see us tomorrow night, but we might have to censor the show a bit," he jokes.

The pair, who live on the farm between Clogher and Fivemiletown, were both at the same high school but lost touch when Audrey was at university in Lancaster.

"We met again at Corrick House (Clogher) - and the rest is history," he says.

But it's not all silage and cow sheds in Tyrone. In the show viewers will see Melvin surprise his hard-working wife with a romantic picnic at home in front of the fire. And both agree the whole process was "fun" and "good craic".

"It was something different to do and very different to farming. I knew I may never have a chance to do something like this again," admitted Melvin.

Gemma Collins
Gemma Collins

He has no fears about seeing the show for the first time since filming took place last year: "I didn't do anything I didn't want to. I was a bit nervous at first but then you get used to it. Myself and Audrey made new friends during the programme."

Melvin says the show will reveal what life in like in Tyrone: "I wouldn't dream of living anywhere else. When I go out I know everyone and they know me. If your car broke down, you call your neighbour and they will help you."

But the couple also love visiting Belfast to do shopping - although they won't be giving up country life anytime soon.

"There are so many people in the city, there isn't the same interaction between people. Although we love going on city breaks for a holiday."

Meanwhile, couple Bobby Patterson (47) and his partner Lynda Hamilton could be the next loved-up pair on reality TV.

Donegal-born Bobby has been romancing Lynda from Omagh for a while.

Again, he wasn't supposed to be on the show, either. "I was chatting when I should've been listening," he laughs. "Before I knew what was happening I was part of the show."

The programme makers were at Lynda's house but enjoyed Bobby's banter so much they invited him to take part.

The sales rep for an animal feed company and part-time farmer says his friends and family will be glued to their sets tomorrow, following his adventures when he tries to buy lingerie.

And he took to filming with ease: "I was a bit apprehensive at first but after a while you forget the cameras are there."

Bobby says the best thing about Tyrone is the people: "They are so friendly and always there to give you a hand. If you need anything they will help, you barely need to ask."

He's delighted Co Tyrone is being put on the reality TV show map, although never watches other similar shows: "I don't think Love Island has anything to worry about from us."

And when it comes to potential nuptials between him and Lynda, he teases: "I think it might be on the cards."

There's No Place Like Tyrone is on BBC One NI on June 6 at 10.35pm.

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