So has TV star Toff found true love in a sleepy Scottish village?

So has TV star Toff found true love at last in a sleepy Scottish village? (With the BrewDog beer magnate said to be worth £260 million!)

Had you been strolling along the narrow seafront a couple of weeks back at Crovie, a tiny village with just a handful of houses tucked away in rural Banffshire, you might well have thought you had wandered into a photo shoot.

While not normally known as a celebrity mecca – it is impossible to take a car into the village, and most of the cottages house fishermen, not fashionistas – on the pier you would have found Georgia Toffolo, reality TV star and influencer extraordinaire, posing happily for the camera with her dog Monty.

The I’m A Celeb winner’s presence was not for a fashion magazine, however, but rather a romantic weekend away. Toffolo, 28, is understood to be in a relationship with James Watt, 41, the controversial multimillionaire founder of BrewDog, the North-East’s famous brewery.

One so serious, it would seem, that Watt not only whisked her off to his stomping ground of Ellon, he even gave her a tour of the company’s flagship brewery, took her to breakfast at a nearby coffee shop and then stopped off in scenic Crovie for a few snaps for Toffolo’s Instagram.

Georgia Toffolo, star of I’m a Celebrity, has been seen with James Watt of Brewdog

James Watt of BrewDog

Georgia Toffolo and Stanley Johnson on ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’

The couple were apparently set up on a blind date over the summer. One friend remarked: ‘Toff has never been happier – she is grinning from ear to ear and it is lovely to see. They have spent a lot of time together since meeting. They just hit it off instantly.’

On paper, they make an unlikely couple. Watt is a former fishing boat skipper, Toffolo the darling of the Conservative Party’s young set; he made his name selling craft beers with names like Elvis Juice and Dead Pony Club, she became famous for winning I’m A Celeb and palling up with Stanley Johnson.

Then there is the fact that Toffolo’s last squeeze, George Cottrell, is a convicted fraudster, while Watt was last year conned out of £100,000 by his former girlfriend Emili Ziem. Perhaps they have more in common than it might first appear.

Toffolo, known universally as ‘the Toff’ (a nickname she has confessed to finding ‘embarrassing’) is something of a celebrity curio.

Young, beautiful and, yes, posh, she is an unabashed Tory voter who once described Jacob Rees-Mogg as a ‘sex god’, counts Boris Johnson’s 83-year-old dad among her best friends and regularly goes drinking with Nigel Farage and Richard Tice, chairman of Reform UK.

She first appeared in the public eye on Made in Chelsea, a reality show about posh Londoners, aged 18, before going on to win I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2017 after memorably munching her way through fish eyes, worms, sheep’s anus, vomit fruit and a huntsman spider alongside Rebekah Vardy during a bushtucker trial.

She has 1.7million followers on Instagram and receives around £5,600 per sponsored post. Most recently she launched a raw dog food company called Wildpack.

By contrast, Watt grew BrewDog into one of Scotland’s most successful companies after humble beginnings in a fishing family. 

Valued at around £2billion, BrewDog propelled craft beer into the mainstream with its quirky advertising, youthful approach and bad boy attitude. 

Famous for its marketing stunts – it twice drove a tank through central London and once dropped taxidermied ‘fat cats’ over the City from a helicopter – one of its corporate slogans was Live Craft, Die Punk. Hardly the stuff that Conservative Central Office dreams are made of.

Still, it is a Scottish success story. The firm started in 2007, opened its first bar in 2010 and now owns more than 100 pubs worldwide. Watt is said to be worth £262million.

But allegations – denied by Watt – about a toxic workplace culture, misogyny and false marketing have taken the shine off the firm in recent times.

A group of 60 employees published an open letter in the summer of 2021 alleging the business was built upon a ‘cult of personality’ around its founders, Watt and his colleague Martin Dickie, with ‘growth at all costs’ the overarching focus of the company.

They claimed a ‘significant number’ of ex-employees suffered ‘mental illness’ as a result of working at the group and were left ‘burnt out, afraid and miserable’.

Meanwhile a standards agency ruled in December that one of the firm’s adverts was misleading. ‘I think there’s a small amount of criticism of us that is potentially justified,’ Watt told STV News in July.

‘Have we got everything right? Absolutely not. Have we made mistakes in the past? Yes, absolutely we have. 

But I think the same is true for any company and I think because we’ve always been quite high-profile, a lot of these have been taken way out of context or blown way out of proportion, and there’s a lot of things that are not true in the mix and all kind of blended together.

‘But regardless, we take it, we take the feedback, use it as a catalyst to get better and keep building the business.’

Watt, the company’s chief executive, announced last year he would hand over nearly a fifth of his stake in the firm to salaried staff to mark the group’s 15-year anniversary.

‘I fully accept that I’ve been too intense, too demanding as a manager,’ he said once. ‘At times I miss the social cues that would enable me to kind of review that situation and then maybe don’t course correct. 

I can understand why people felt the way they did in regards to my leadership style.’

A journalist who interviewed Watt last year described him as ‘cold-eyed, unsettling company’ and ‘an obsessive who clearly struggles to express empathy or read social cues’. 

Earlier this year, partly sparked by those comments, he sought assessment and was diagnosed as autistic, with what he described as ‘not only with high-functioning Asperger’s but also ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder].’

One wonders when he might have the time for a relationship. 

A confessed workaholic, he once said he takes an ice bath each morning, because ‘any other challenge today is going to be less intense than sitting in this thing for 90 seconds’.

Divorced from his former wife Johanna Basford, an illustrator who struck gold when she published a colouring book for adults, The Secret Garden, which has sold more than ten million copies worldwide, he spends most of his free time – of which there does not appear to be much – with his two daughters.

Meanwhile BrewDog announced in July that it plans to triple its bars and hotels business to 300 venues by 2030 (yes, there are BrewDog hotels, complete with ‘shower beer’), with plans to open bars in the UK, India, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, the US and Thailand this year, and proposals for sites in China and South Korea further down the line. 

‘The amount I work is probably unhealthy,’ he said once. ‘If I don’t have the kids, I work every weekend, every evening. I’m completely dedicated and focused.’

Watt grew up between the two North-East fishing communities of Peterhead and Gardenstown. 

All the men in his family fished, and he was out on boats by the age of six. But it was a privileged life too – his father owned a stake in a large fishing firm – although Watt says he felt he never quite fitted in as a child, and suffered from an ‘inadequacy complex’.

B RIGHT, he studied law and economics at Edinburgh University, and in 2006 he and Dickie took out a business loan and launched BrewDog.

It is, perhaps, a world away from Toffolo’s relatively privileged upbringing in Devon although she is quick to point out that her family – her father was a car dealer and her parents split when she was young – were not nearly as posh as has been portrayed. 

‘Everyone thinks I’m landed gentry but my father worked so incredibly hard to get me to an amazing school,’ she said once. ‘I’m from Torquay, from quite a normal family, but all of my friends at school spoke the same way as me. 

When I went back home my dad was like, “Why are you talking like you’ve got a pole stuck up your a***?”’

While her rise in the glossy world of celebrity has been meteoric, her relationships have been less successful. 

Despite describing herself as ‘the most hopeless romantic’ (so much so, she has authored a four-part series of romance novels for Mills & Boon), she admits her taste in men is unconventional.

‘I end up fancying middle-aged men – I’m partial to a man who’s powerful and intelligent,’ she said once. ‘For me, I just find ambition and drive very, very attractive. They don’t always have to be tall and dark, but they have to be intelligent. 

I like a man who looks really good in a sharp suit.’

And then there is perhaps her most enduring relationship with a man: Stanley Johnson. 

The two bonded when they appeared on I’m A Celeb, and have since conducted an extremely public, if slightly curious, friendship.

S HE once said of the former PM’s father: ‘From the moment I saw that man I knew we’d be friends for ever. 

We FaceTime a couple of times a week. We’ve got a very similar sense of humour – we like having a bit of a laugh and a chat. There are 55 years between us, which is insane, but you’d never know it when we’re together – we’re like two children.’

For someone who lives so much of her life in the public eye, Toffolo has been intriguingly quiet about her romantic entanglements.

Georgia Toffolo posts a selfie from the Aberdeenshire village of Crovie

That is perhaps partly because for the past four years she has been in an on/off relationship with former UKIP worker Cottrell – whose mother, Fiona Cottrell, once went out with King Charles. He spent eight months in jail in the US in 2016 in connection with a money laundering conspiracy.

Cottrell’s family are said to be worth £300million.

The couple were last seen together in May this year, lunching in Mayfair with Farage. ‘I don’t want to have to justify why I’m with someone or why I’m not,’ she said when asked about the relationship last year.

‘I’d like to sort of shout from the rooftops about everything, but when you’ve got people speculating whether I am with someone, that is too much for me. I’ve got to keep one bit for me.’

Time will tell whether she will ever shout from the rooftops about her relationship with Watt, or whether those romantic weekends in Crovie will remain between the two of them – and Toffolo’s 1.7million Instagram followers.

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