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Dr Alex George will be the first to admit he was far from the archetypal Love Island contestant when he agreed to take part in TV's biggest dating show in 2018.
Fresh out of medical school, Alex was working long hours in an NHS hospital when he was approached by ITV researchers on Instagram – despite having just 200 followers.
Despite reservations, Alex decided to take a chance on the audition and in hindsight admits his lack of interest is probably what set him apart from the other hopefuls.
Though he may not have found lasting love in the villa, Alex’s natural shyness and charm was a refreshing hit with viewers and he sailed through the weekly 'dumpings' before making his exit days in the final days.
Alex then made the successful transition back to his A&E day job, working through the Covid pandemic, and was announced Youth Ambassador for mental health last year.
Dr Alex George has opened up about the incredible friend who inspired him to take a chance on Love Island and helped change his life
Ahead of the 2021 series of Love Island, Alex has also joined forces with ITV to support their mental health campaign to get viewers talking.
He admits his career trajectory is quite impressive for someone who missed out on a place at medical school at first attempt after failing his course by just two marks.
With the Love Island launch now just days away, Alex has shared some insight into why he swapped the emergency room for the Mallorca villa and the advice he'd give the nervous singletons waiting to follow in his footsteps.
Alex said there was a pressure to perform on Love Island when the cameras were on 24/7
(Image: Supplied by WENN)
"Obviously the cameras will be on and recording constantly… but just try to be true to yourself and respectful to other people," said Alex.
“The most important thing is to try and be yourself and stick to your values and beliefs.
"And make sure that going on the show is the right thing for you. If you are worried about your life after or how it will effect your career then you have to stop and think hard about what’s best.
“Don’t take it or yourself too seriously. And try to enjoy it,” he added.
Dr Alex George returned to work at Lewisham Hospital in the Covid pandemic and was recently appointed as Ambassador for Mental Health by the Prime Minister
While many of his castmates, including Jack Fincham, Dani Dyer and Georgia Steel, went on to carve out careers as influencers, Alex bucked the trend by heading back to his job at Lewisham hospital.
“There was never a question about not returning,” said Alex. 'I felt that I remained grounded and could go back to doing what I know best.
“My only regret about the show is that I'd tell myself to just relax a bit more and try not to worry so much.
“But overall, I did really enjoy myself.”
A self-confessed introvert, Alex said appearing on the show pushed him out of many comfort zones.
Speaking on The Locker Podcast, Alex revealed how a tragedy in his personal life inspired him to take a chance on Love Island despite his 'fear of failing.'
Dr Alex said the show pushed him completely out of his comfort zone
"The fear of failing has prevented me from doing things. I'm naturally a very introverted person.
"When I was younger I always afraid of putting myself out there and what people might think if I did something wrong.
"This all changed when I had a very good friend of mine at university called Freya and she was an amazing medic. She would have been a fantastic doctor. She was involved in so many charities and honestly just an amazing person," Alex told host Natalie Morris.
Speaking on The Locker Podcast, Dr Alex opened up about the friend who inspired him to sign up to the ITV2 dating show
"But she got leukaemia in training. She had a long battle with it and multiple rounds of chemo and in isolation for a huge amount of time. It was literally a box she had to stay in because her immune system was so weak.
"She actually did some of her exams in that isolation. Unfortunately, despite her having a bone marrow transplant the cancer came back and she passed away
"But before she passed away, her bit of advice to me was to live life, take your opportunities and don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
"It was such brilliant advice. And throughout my early 20s I've tried so hard to try and follow that advice.
"The more I fail now I realise it's not that bad, I think, 'Do you know what? Fine, move on, let's go to the next.'"
After his reality TV stint, Alex said he's learned not to take the some failures in life too seriously
Giving in an insight into how the current batch of islanders will be feeling as they go into lockdown ahead of the launch, Alex admits: "I was very nervous.
"I am an introvert so it was a huge change to the kind of situation I usually put myself in.
“I’ll never change but I do challenge myself by putting myself through these things.
“It was hard in that environment with the cameras on you the whole time and being around very loud people.
“They will be nervous. Most people who go on the show now are well aware of the show and want to expect.
“But there will still be a lot of nerves as you know what you’re putting yourself into and you know there will be a lot of criticism.
“There’s excitement as well of course, it’s something that’s so unique. Not many people have done it and it’s a great opportunity to try something different.”
Listen to Alex opening up about how he deals with 'failures' on the Locker podcast.
His debut book Live Well Every Day: Your plan for a happy body and mind is available now.