Married at First Sight UK’s and Essex girl Morag Crichton became a victim of internet trolling, but she reveals to Natalie Li how she emerged stronger than ever
Marrying a stranger might seem risky, even unthinkable, but for Rainham-born Morag Crichton, appearing on Married at First Sight UK to find true love was one big adventure.
When we chat on a chilly January afternoon, Crichton is feeling positive, telling me that it’s exactly one year on from the day she filmed her first video interview to appear on the Channel Four show. “I can’t believe how quick it has gone,” she exclaims, “it’s been a year since I applied to the show. One of the casting crew from ITV’s Take Me Out, a show I appeared on in 2018, was advertising on social media for people to go on MAFS. I sent him a few messages and he said: ‘please apply, don’t waste any time.’ So, I did it that evening and had a call first thing the next day.
“I burst out laughing and thought ‘what am I doing?’ I felt like I was going to be on my own forever, I was so independent and self-sufficient that if anyone came near me or into my bubble I would think ‘you’ll only cause me misery and grief!’ I really wanted to find the right person.”
Viewers were hooked on the show, which brings together couples who have never met based on analysis of their compatibility. Meeting for the first time on their wedding day and after marrying, the couples head off on honeymoon and experience life as a couple and given a few months to decide whether to remain married or to divorce.
By April 2021, Crichton found herself walking down the aisle, but did she experience the classic cold feet? “Do you know what? It’s not in my personality, I just throw myself into new experiences, to be honest.”
Meeting her firefighter husband Luke Dawson for the first time wasn’t love at first sight, but Crichton remained open-minded and eager to discover a connection. “My first initial thought of Luke was: he’s not my usual type, but we’re here for a reason and there is something that has brought us together. The experts obviously saw something.”
While some of her fellow participants found love, it wasn’t to be for the 32-year-old veterinary nurse who now lives near Lakeside shopping centre. The couple survived the experiment, only to split up after the show.
Crichton’s revelation that she didn’t see a future with Luke, despite him confessing his love for her, sparked a wave of internet trolling for the former civil servant. But did viewers see the full picture? “I was definitely myself during the show, but with editing I felt that some of the context was lost, you lose the reason I say the things I do,” she explains. “The full picture isn’t there. I have learnt a lot from the experience. I don’t have any regrets, I had so much fun and made so many amazing friends.
“It did upset me how it was edited; I didn’t realise a programme could make a person seem someone they’re not. But unfortunately, it’s the name of the game. I thought I had a thick skin, but when you wake up to multiple negative comments and messages on social media, it’s hard. People think they know you and feel the need to stick their two pence in – it’s a tough way to start your day. I struggled at first, but I got stronger every single day. I feel sad for these trolls. There are even mums doing this, it’s heart-breaking. I spoke to the psychologist on the show, and it was a matter of getting through each day.”
Love is still high on Crichton’s agenda. “I am open to dating, but I want it to happen organically. I have my type: someone who is confident, energetic, walks into room and just lights it up, you know. I am looking for myself,” she laughs.
She is now returning to normal life and is ready to embrace 2022. “I woke up this morning with a spring in my step and I feel great! I have been interviewing left, right and centre in Essex for a veterinary nurse position and I’m waiting to find that tingling feeling in a new practice.”
With a passion for animals – she volunteered at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital as part of her vet training – and a lust for life, there is no holding back Crichton, who has sought adventures in Australia and Ibiza. But Essex is where her heart lies.
“It’s a massive comedown after the show – you’re in a bubble for months and then go back to figuring out your life, thankfully I have a support network here in Essex,” she adds. “I’ve also lived in Exeter where my mum is as I got a fantastic opportunity to move there and study nursing. Before I joined MAFS, my dad fell ill so that pulled me back to Essex while I cared for him, so I built a life here. After he passed away, I stayed. I am an Essex girl, and this is where I belong.”
But what is her favourite thing about the county? “Without a doubt, the people are the best,” she smiles. “Around the time I was receiving abusive messages from internet trolls, I visited Dunelm in Lakeside to buy some bedding. I got to the cashier, and she said: ‘Are you Morag? How are you? Are you alright?’ And she said: ‘Nothing matters, you’re back with your people’.”
As for the future, with more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and a hit show behind her, does she envisage a career in television? “I’d never say no,” she considers. “I’ll be appearing on Celebs Go Dating to support my friend Nikita [who also appeared on MAFS]. I enjoy the process, meeting new people and experiences. If it’s fun, adventurous, entertaining, and people get to see me for who I am, then I’m up for it!”