HIGH drama unfolded as a reality TV star dropped into Sheffield to kick-start Christmas celebrations at a shopping mall.
Hordes of adoring fans turned out in force as the heartthrob dropped into Crystal Peaks to switch on the centre’s festive lights. Forget Beatlemania, it was Markmania as screaming ladies - from teens to grandmothers - gathered beside the entrance in eager anticipation of his arrival. Mark masks were waved in the air and there were even women carrying roses to give to the presenter.
The excitement proved a little too much for one young girl who fainted as Mark took to the stage. Fellow fans looked on in disbelief as Mark rushed to help first aiders pull her to safety from the huge crowd.
Katie Merritt, 16, of Gleadless, Sheffield, said: “I can’t believe he did that. That’s why I love him.”
Fan Karen Faram, 55, left her home in Worksop at 4pm to ensure she could catch a glimpse of her favourite heartthrob.
She said: “I’ve got my rose. The card’s got my mobile number on it. I love him. My desk at work is covered with pictures of him. The Only Way is Essex isn’t the same without him. I’ve got two of his calendars with me.”
Olivia Sellars, 17, of Woodhouse, Sheffield, said: “I work here and I am a big fan so I was really excited when I found out he’d be switching on the lights.”
The Sing to Win talent show, which saw local budding musicians take to the stage to perform for the excited crowd. April Parker was crowned winner, scooping the top prize for her pitch-perfect rendition of Etta James’ At Last.
And to give shoppers that festive feeling, characters Rocket the Reindeer and the Cheeky Snowman were present to meet and greet children.
But it was the former star of ITV2’s The Only Way is Essex - who proved the biggest draw.
When the big moment finally came, the heart of Crystal Peaks was packed out and ready for the switch-on. Mark flicked the switch to light up the centre in an array of pretty colours. Excited youngsters were wide-eyed with delight as the lights twinkled and sparkled.
Mother-of-three Susanne Bilham, 33, of Todwick, Sheffield, said: “We shop here a lot of the time so we’ve come to see it all. I think now is about the right time to start looking forward to Christmas.”
Mark took to Twitter to thank the crowds. He tweeted: “Defo coming back to Crystal Peaks. The people and place is amazing. I hope you enjoy the lights. Have a great Christmas.”