AGED just ten he would spend hours practising his autograph in his Southampton home dreaming one day he’d be famous.
Now 16 years later Ollie Locke has an online following of 350,000 fans, is regularly mobbed by screaming teens and rubs shoulders with Hollywood stars.
And it’s all thanks to reality TV.
The Made in Chelsea star’s mum Sarah invites me to meet Ollie for an intimate family lunch in Southampton following a book signing for his new tell-all book Laid in Chelsea.
And she really shouldn’t have been concerned that I wouldn’t find them in trendy restaurant Simon’s at Oxfords in Oxford Street.
His famous fake tan would make the Hoff look like Casper the ghost, his teeth are so luminous they’d put Ross Geller to shame in that infamous Friends episode and, just when I thought my eyes had adequately adjusted, I caught sight of his spangly Vivienne Westwood belt. Not to mention his jewel-encrusted watch as he took a sip of champagne.
“Darling, squidge in here!” he says dramatically beckoning me to nestle in between him and his mum on the large round table.
Before my cappuccino arrives I’ve learned Ollie’s godfather uncle Simon owns the bar we’re in, his dad John is a retired property developer who owned most of Canute Road while mum Sarah was a former BBC Radio Solent presenter.
Ollie spent his school days in private boarding at Romsey’s Hampshire Collegiate School – once the home of Florence Nightingale – before continuing his education in Oxford and Cambridge.
His comfortable upbringing doesn’t surprise me. The E4 scripted reality programme Made in Chelsea follows the lives and loves of the socially elite 20-somethings who live in London’s most exclusive postcode.
People who have seen the show will testify the characters are not immediately likeable and appear to spend their days doing nothing but sipping lattes in Kings Road or shopping for items for which most of us would need a mortgage.
But despite any preconceptions people may have about the reality TV show star, nobody could say the 26- year- o l d , w h o s e p a re n t s divorced when he was eight, has not worked hard.
And don’t be fooled into thinking he’s vanity personified.
Yes, he’s certainly flamboyant and over the top but he’s very likeable and hilariously self-deprecating, joking about the last time he saw his natural skin colour beneath the spray tan.
He laughs: “It’s not all been glamorous. I worked at Hayling Island fun fair scooping up mess around the place and cleaning the machines for two summers – they had to tell me not to be so posh!
“When I was 18 uncle Simon turned around to me and said: ‘if you’re big in Southampton, you’re big in Southampton but if you’re big in London, you’re big everywhere’ and I left the next week to make a life up there.”
Ollie, who lived with his mum and sister Amelia near Bedford Place at the time, said he got a job temping at a magazine in London.
He said: “I got paid £100 for a year! I had absolutely zero money so I started clearing up sick in a nightclub on Kings Road for two years.
“In the end I made my way up through nine different nightclubs for five years in Chelsea and Mayfair and I guess I made a name for myself because I wore stupid clothing and had very long hair.
“But people got to know me and asked me to launch nightclubs and then Made in Chelsea came knocking and asked whether I wanted to be involved in the programme.”
The show, now in its fifth series, is now aired in 90 countries around the world including the USA.
“I’d always wanted to be famous, absolutely, but it is a bit of a fluke it happened especially because I’m not from Chelsea.
“From wherever I go for the rest of my life I will always be associated as someone who couldn’t be any more London, couldn’t be any more Chelsea but really this is my home. I’ll never fully consider London as my home because my heart is in Southampton. It has and always will be a big part of my life.”
And does Ollie, who was professionally trained as an actor, mind finding fame through reality TV and its perceived cast of talentless stars?
“I feel incredibly lucky”, he said.
“I love reality, we’re all so bloody nosy.”
He gets side-tracked and launches into his philosophical take on the bizarre TV reality genre.
“We are, supposedly, the posh and rich, while the Essex lot are all a bit ‘alright babe’, then you’ve got Geordie Shore. It’s all the extremes.
“I can understand people’s negative opinion about reality TV but what we do is only to make people smile and laugh.
“Reality TV is just how drama has evolved.
“We’re making entertainment, and we’re part of a great show. As long as you do something for the good, help charities and influence in the right way, why on earth would that not be a good thing?”
The discussion then moves on inevitably to the lurid details contained in his book which boasts the provocative title Laid in Chelsea: My Life Uncovered. It’s an amusing if occasionally stomachchurning account of his sex life revealing his humiliating mishaps between the sheets.
You would think discussing book chapters entitled “No Pubes and a Soggy Biscuit” and “Rachel Stevens and Mopping Up Vomit (Not Hers)”would be a tad awkward when seated between his mumand the author, who says he is bisexual.
Sarah chips in: “Oh no, not at all. We’re very liberal parents and we think it’s great.
“It’s a great book especially for teens to read.
“Ollie addresses the importance of safe sex.
We’ve always been very open and had a condom drawer in the house.”
It’s that openness that has made Ollie one of reality TV’s most loved stars.
Ollie, who said if he could only date one more person it would be Joanna Lumley because she’s “beautiful and funny”, said: “I’ve never minded being open. Never. In fact I love being open, that’s what makes the book endearing. It’s completely real. There’s no fabrication.”
Although recently starting a relationship with another of the Made in Chelsea cast Ashley James, Ollie says he has no plans to settle down.
He has penned another book – this time a fantasy novel but said he has no plans other than making the most of opportunities that come his way.
He said: “To me fame isn’t important. What’s important is what’s around you and the happiness you’re creating. What I’ve got from doing this amazing experience is just a bonus.”
Laid in Chelsea is available now through HarperCollins.