I’m friends with Gemma Owen's family – this is the advice I gave before she went on Love Island, reveals Chris Hughes | The Sun

LOVE Island favourite Chris Hughes has revealed the advice he gave Gemma Owen before she entered the villa.

Newly-single Chris, who starred in the 2017 series of the show alongside Olivia Attwood, is friends with the Owen family having starred in the Crystal Maze with retired footballer Michael.

They also regularly cross paths on the horse racing circuit with Chris, 29, working as a pundit for ITV and Michael an avid fan of the sport and a part owner of four horses.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Chris revealed how he passed on words of wisdom to Gemma at an event in Chester in May.

He said: "They're a lovely, down-to-earth family. I just said to her you've got to be yourself. You can't be anyone else because you're in there for such a long time. Just stay true to yourself, that's the reason you're on the show. And enjoy it, that's what life's about."

Reflecting on how the show has evolved over the past five years, he continued: "I feel like people's perceptions when they go on have changed, possibly, from when I went on there.

"We genuinely didn't think hardly anyone was watching Love Island. It was actually blowing up while we were in there, and we didn't know that."

Chris's fellow Islander Sam Gowland famously returned to the villa in a shock twist having been dumped earlier in the series.

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It was through hearing Sam's tales of the outside world that he began to realise how life was going to change for him when he eventually left.

"We didn't even know what a club appearance was," said Chris. "I remember Sam Gowland came back in and was like I've been doing a few PAs. I'm like what's that? How do you do that? He's like 'I've got a manager'. I was like 'how do you get a manager?' [laughs].

"We were so naive to everything back then which I think made it very natural."

Chris has since established himself as a successful sports broadcaster covering cricket for the BBC and horse racing on ITV.

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It was a natural progression for him, having been around horses since he was a young boy, but it's something he has had to remind detractors of from time to time.

The TV star is also a part owner of a nine-year-old racehorse called Annie Mc, and his passion for horses means it's little surprise he's become an ambassador for National Racehorse Week.

With new research suggesting around 50 percent of 18-24 year olds have never seen a real horse in person, the week aims to make them more accessible.

Describing the initiative, which begins on September 10, Chris said: "It's a celebration once again of the racehorse. I know how extremely well these racehorses are looked after and how well they're cared for. It's paramount and at the forefront of racing yards. It's great we can showcase that to members of the public.

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"You can go on nationalracehorseweek.uk, type in your address and it'll give you local yards that are opening their doors so you can go down there. It's inclusive for everybody."

Chris Hughes is an ambassador for National Racehorse Week, Visit nationalracehorseweek.uk to book your space.

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