Mario Falcone first shot to fame when he appeared on The Only Way Is Essex and he soon gained a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man.
In fact, his relationship with co-star Lucy Meck became one of the most talked about storylines of the show’s history, and we couldn’t help but shout at our TV screens when Mario cheated on her and cheer Lucy on when she chucked her glass of wine over him.
However, when I caught up with Mario at his sister Giovanna Fletcher’s book launch he was a changed man, with the reality star admitting that he used to be a “pr*ck” but insisting that he’d learned the error of his ways and was ready to settle down.
Speaking exclusively, Mario told me: “In hindsight, I was an absolute a*shole. Nothing I do now can redeem what happened but I believe most guys have reputations, you just don’t know it.
“Mine was out there for the world to see. I was an absolute a*s but now I want to settle down and have a relationship, I can totally see that I was a pr*ck, I used to make excuses like ‘Lucy cheated on me first so mine was warranty and she deserved me cheating on her’, but now I realise two wrongs don’t make a right and I shouldn’t have stayed with her if I couldn’t forgive her. It was wrong.”
The 28-year-old went on to joke that he couldn’t be a lothario again even if he tried, quipping “I’m not being bad anymore… I try to sometimes but I can’t do it, I’m getting old.
“I want ‘Netflix and chill’ with me, you don’t have to entertain or strike up small talk or pretend you care – I just want to watch my film.”
However, the coy star went on to admit that there was someone special in his life at the moment but refused to tell us any more other than she was famous “in a way”.
Mario also added that becoming an uncle to Giovanna and Tom Fletcher’s two sons Buzz and Buddy made him realise that he was ready to settle down, confessing that he is desperate to have children of his own.
He told me: “Ever since Buzz was born I’ve always thought ‘If I can love my nephew as much as I do how much can I love my own kids?’
“Seeing the way Tom is with Buzz, that father-son relationship, having that with my son or daughter is something I want. Obviously it’s about timing in life but ever since Buzz was born I’ve wanted kids.
“Fortunately Gi’s had Buddy so that’s another one and my other sister Giorgie is due in September so I’ll live through them and never give them back.”
And what kind of uncle is Mario to Buzz and Buddy?
“With Buzz I’m fun, we play, I’m his cool uncle,” Mario explained, “His shoe game is on point. If I’m going shopping he’ll get five pairs of trainers. He’s really into cars so I bought him a little one he can drive himself.
“He’s obsessed with the new car I just bought myself… But if he’s naughty, if Tom and Giovanna tell him off he won’t listen. If I tell him off, he listens.
“If ‘fun uncle’ isn’t being fun anymore you know you’re in trouble, he looks at me like ‘I thought we were on a level, uncle Mario!'”
And although he’s not fussed whether he has a son or a daughter in the future, Mario admits that he has a terrible feeling that karma is going to come back to get him, sharing: “I have a feeling that Giorgie will have a boy… My mum is a twin and noone in the whole family has had twins and she had a reading that said I would have twin girls.
“I believe that will be karma for years of debauchery and hurting women. It’ll be my lesson – two girls and I’m going to have to fend men off for thirty years!”
As the old saying goes, watch this space.
Giovanna Fletcher’s novel ‘Always With Love’ is out now!