Herald on Sunday - - SPY NEWS -

MAFS fight-night vil­lain Ben Black­well has no re­grets about last week­end’s tur­moil — but he has sent his deep­est apolo­gies to staff at Auck­land restau­rant, Oak­room, where the din­ner party was held and whom Black­well says were amazing dur­ing the drama.

“I know a lot of peo­ple would want me to apol­o­gise for how I’ve been on the show. I largely be­lieve it’s a clash of cul­tures, I have a very for­ward and di­rect way of speak­ing to peo­ple which is some­thing that I’ve in­her­ited from my years in Aus­tralia,” he told Spy.

Black­well, 26, and fel­low Pretty Com­mit­tee mem­ber and bestie Vicky Glee­son-Stokes stirred the pot with Ha­dyn

Daniels at the din­ner — the re­sult­ing fall­out was so ex­plo­sive the show’s pro­duc­ers had to step in.

But Spy reck­ons Black­well, an in­surance con­sul­tant who has strug­gled with his match with Aaron Chisholm from the out­set, will be the break­out star of the show.

He has a lot in com­mon with the then self-de­scribed “bich­e­lorette” from sea­son one of The Bach­e­lor, Chrys­tal Chen­ery, and sea­son two’s Nazanin Khan­jani aka Nasty Naz, who is about to film a US re­al­ity show.

All of them have given us those “Did they just say that?” mo­ments. And all of them have been sub­jected to nasty on­line trolling, but bounced back.

And to give Black­well credit, he’s stuck with the ex­per­i­ment, and been true to him­self through­out. He has the most In­sta­gram fol­low­ers of any of the MAFS par­tic­i­pants, at 19,000, lead­ing An­gel Star-Heron by more than 2000. She and hubby Brett Re­nall seem the only likely match to last. Black­well in­tends us­ing his newly-found voice for some good in the LGBT com­mu­nity, out­side of Pretty Com­mit­tee busi­ness. “Ir­re­spec­tive of whether you like me or not and you’re LGBT, there is work to be done in our com­mu­nity. You can imag­ine my shock when I moved here from Aus­tralia of all places, to find NZ lag­ging, par­tic­u­larly to ac­cess and fund­ing for HIV preven­tion med­i­ca­tion,” he told Spy.

“Re­duc­ing the stigma of HIV and ad­dress­ing youth sui­cide are some things I’d like to shine a large white light on.”

And as the show sets to wrap, Black­well is lean­ing on fam­ily sup­port.

“My par­ents and my im­me­di­ate fam­ily have a very close re­la­tion­ship, that’s how most big fam­i­lies are. My sis­ters would if they could, sit down and re­ply to ev­ery sin­gle neg­a­tive com­ment about my­self on­line.

“As for my par­ents, my re­la­tion­ship with them goes from strength to strength. There is a mis­con­cep­tion that we have a bad re­la­tion­ship be­cause they weren’t at my wed­ding, but it is in fact be­cause they don’t agree with the ex­per­i­ment as a whole and don’t wish to ap­pear on TV.

“They are very proud of ev­ery­thing I have achieved in life thus far. I live my life to the fullest, an in­ter­est­ing life full of ad­ven­ture and laugh­ter. They taught me that and also taught me to have a voice and to use it.”

Chrys­tal Chen­ery, Ben Black­well and Nazanin Khan­jani.

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