Married At First Sight UK star JJ Slater has leapt to the defence of his new beau, Ella Morgan Clarke, after she was subjected to vile transphobic abuse.
Fashion brand owner, JJ joined the show as a latecomer as he tied the knot with Bianca Petronzi. The relationship proved disastrous, however, with the 30-year old clearly not keen on his bride from the offset, who he constantly declared as "not my usual type".
Ella, meanwhile, has been a major part of the current series from day one, but her marriage to Nathaniel Valentino soon descended into chaos. After a promising start to their relationship, the romance soured on their honeymoon after Ella revealed she had previously worked as a stripper.
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Although both couples chose to stay on the E4 show initially in a bid to work on their differences, their relationships failed to get off the ground. There was soon a clear chemistry between JJ and Ella, however, with the pair meeting in secret to discuss their feelings towards each other whilst on a break from their respective spouses.
On Wednesday as the other couples enjoyed some time away at the couples' retreat, Ella and JJ returned as a new couple themselves – leaving the rest of the cast stunned.
Away from the pre-recorded series, Ella revealed earlier this month that she has been forced to take a break from social media following a spate of online attacks over her identity. It prompted JJ to speak out last on a live TikTok stream with co-star Luke Worley, after he shut down several vitriolic comments aimed at Ella.
Responding to one comment, JJ declared: "Am I bi now? No. I see Ella as a girl. I don’t know how many times I have to say that. The thing is everyone in the experiment saw Ella as a woman and a girl because that’s what she is."
Luke agreed: "Ella to me is a woman. I look at trans people totally different now. I had to have this conversation with Ella because I needed to be educated as well. Speak to your friends about it in your group chat or privately not on a comment or a post. Speak about it privately if you want to have a rant. I think people forget. They think we’re just characters. We aren’t."
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The return of JJ and Ella was followed by a backlash from viewers on social media, who demanded a rule change preventing brides and grooms from reappearing on the show having swapped partners. "The producers/experts are in the wrong by letting Ella and JJ return as a new couple. For starters, they broke the rules of the experiment so that in itself should be enough to leave. Secondly, the producers are condemning cheating and normalising it. #MAFSUK," blasted one fan.
Another penned: "Should rename this mess of a show married at 1st ,2nd,3rd sight." And a third added: "This is where I stop watching #MAFSUK Ella and JJ coming back into the experiment has ruined it for me now! Can't stand Ella's selfish attitude. I know it’s entertainment but partner swappers shouldn’t be able to come back. Stop normalising cheating."
MAFS UK airs Monday to Thursday on E4 at 9pm.
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