‘White Dee’ at 50: ‘Young men slide into my DMs – get me into Love Island!’

Reality star Dee Kelly is back and – aged 50 – she’s desperate for a place in the famous villa…

white dee benefits street now

by Mel Fallowfield |
Updated on

When Dee Kelly – known as “White Dee” – first appeared on gritty fly-on-the-wall documentary Benefits Street in January 2014, she was completely unprepared for the attention she received and admitted that the experience “ripped her life apart.”

However, Dee, who later embraced her fame and even appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, is now ready to step back into the spotlight and has set her sights on a very different show – Love Island!

Dee, 50, admits, “It’s time to have some fun. I’m a curvy, sexy, older woman and they say they want diversity on the show – what better way than with me?

“I’m a real hit with younger men – they’re always sliding into my DMs! So get me in the villa to spice things up!

“I’ve been with my partner Mark, 52, for nine years, but we’re not actually married so it would be good to keep him on his toes. He wouldn’t mind – he’d find it hilarious if I was flirting with all the young, toned boys.

“There’s life in this old dog yet and I want beaches, fun, laughter and jokes.”

white dee benefits street now
Dee was the star of the Channel 4 show ©Channel 4

When Benefits Streets first aired, it was an overnight success.

Set in James Turner Street in Birmingham, it charted the day to day lives of the residents in one of the most welfare-dependent areas in the UK.

Dee has now moved away from the street, but only a few minutes down the road. She’s still friends with some of the residents – but is no longer in touch with those from the show.

Dee says, “We were like a family, we were all so close and looked out for each other, we were lucky, I felt safe back then, I was happy and loved my life. But then the show aired and none of us were prepared for the attention we got. It turns your life upside down. We were vilified, hated and abused, being branded scroungers, and it was tough on all of us. I was shocked and very surprised when I was invited on Celebrity Big Brother in August 2014.”

But it was that stint on CBB that turned the tide for Dee – the public warmed to her straight-talking and honest attitude, and since then she’s made her living through the media and public speaking.

white dee celebrity big brother
She appeared on CBB in August 2014 ©Shutterstock

She says, “The show helped me get off benefits – but I’m only too aware that this could be fleeting and one day I might be back on them.

“It can happen to anyone, the pandemic has shown that. A lot of people who might have labelled me a ‘scrounger’ might now be claiming benefits too. It’s a shame there is still so much stigma attached.”

white dee benefits street now
Dee says she’s the most confident she’s ever been ©closer magazine

As well as her public speaking, Dee is also very involved with a local charity, Birmingham Says No To Knife Crime and Youth Violence, which puts on free events, such as dance competitions and socials to get teenagers involved and off the streets. She says, “I feel so strongly about it – the streets of Birmingham are so dangerous. Kids are killing kids and I can’t stand by and do nothing.

“I worry so much about my kids, Caitlin, 23, and Gerrard, 14. They could have so easily have fallen in with a bad crowd.”

Dee’s also an ambassador for the charity Balls To Cancer, which was set up after her dad and grandad both died from testicular cancer. But the charity helps anyone battling the disease.

white dee benefits street boyfriend
With her partner Mark ©closer magazine

She says, “Sadly, my cousin died from cancer during lockdown. The funeral was devastating; we couldn’t hug to comfort each other and, as I wasn’t immediate family, I ended up watching it in the car park of the crematorium. It was a terrible experience – so the charity is very close to my heart.”

Dee also hosts a weekly Facebook live chat for the charity called Ask Aunty Dee and has had lots of celebrity guests – from Honey G to Five singer Ritchie Neville – and she co-hosts a radio show with fellow CBB star Kellie Maloney, called Loose Lips, where they talk about LGBTQ issues.

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And Dee still gets recognised wherever she goes. She says, “I was watching the England match the other day in a pub and about five people asked for selfies. I don’t mind at all, though it still feels a bit surreal.

“I make a point of always replying to anyone who messages me on social media – I’m just Dee who loves people and likes chatting to anyone and everyone.”

But Dee, who turns 50 this week, is now keen to get back into the limelight. She says, “For the first time ever, I feel happier in my own skin. I remember in my 20s thinking, ‘Oh God, I’m about to be 30.’ But now I simply don’t care about age. I’m healthy and happy and looking forward to the next decade.

“And the best way to celebrate it would be in the Love Island villa – I shall await the producers’ call!”

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