Imagine going on a hen party without having met your future husband or walking down the aisle and having no idea about the person you’re about to marry.

“It’s weird,” admits Sophie Brown with casual understatement.

For those who don’t know two years ago she appeared on the Channel 4 show Married At First Sight.

Millions of viewers watched her tie the knot with Johnathan Wileman and fly off on honeymoon to St Lucia with a man she barely knew – and a TV camera crew following their every move.

She went on the show looking for love but the couple broke up within a few months and she ended up being cruelly targeted by online trolls about her appearance.

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Holiday That Changed My Life podcast, she lifts the lid about life on the TV show and her exciting new role with tech startup Flowlio.

Brown was 25 and working at Manchester-based eCommerce giant THG when she took the decision that changed her life.

She was in the midst of changing role from channel manager to global head of channel, which involved developing a strategy to onboard new relationships that would help the company’s tech arm of THG Ingenuity.

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All that changed when she saw an advert for contestants for the TV  show Married At First Sight and decided on a whim to apply.

“I was 25 when I was in the process and 26 when I actually got married,” she told The Holiday That Changed My Life podcast. “I thought ‘in four years’ time, no-one will remember me then’.

“I wasn’t chasing fame or anything like that. It was an exciting thing but primarily I was there to find someone.

“I was completely naïve to it. I was really invested in my career and I was doing really well. I thought at the end of the show I’d go back to it.”

Brown was granted unpaid leave from her job at THG and even had a hen do with friends for her upcoming wedding – despite not having met her future husband.

That all changed when she was paired with a joiner from Yorkshire called Johnathan Wileman.

“I was five months in the process and he was five weeks,” she recalled.

“When I first saw Johnathan I was really happy. I had this warm smile from him. I looked at his family and they were all gorgeous. It’s very overwhelming. I felt really excited and positive.

“On the day of the wedding we both nervous but I got vibes. We had an incredible day.”

The following day the couple flew off to St Lucia for a honeymoon accompanied by a TV crew.

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“You can’t leave the hotel,” she recalled. “We got downtime in the evening. You know when they’re filming because you’ve got a mic on. They try and catch you out all the time.

“They feed the questions. You had to be careful you didn’t just say what they said. Johnathan and I were very respectful of each other.

“We’d always debrief and tell each other what we said about the other person as we didn’t want to throw each other under the bus.

“I wouldn’t go on TV and talk about sex in-depth. I’d say ‘we’ve slept together now’ but I wouldn’t go into loads of detail because I wouldn’t want that out and I respect my family.”

However her new ‘husband’ – they were never legally married – caused controversy when he told viewers he didn’t want to be with a woman with muscly ‘horse legs’.

Months later the row was reignited when Brown was pictured coming out of a restaurant in Manchester and the photos were published in the Daily Mail, leading to an avalanche of spiteful comments about her weight, including being branded a ‘whale’.

Sophie Brown with her Flowlio colleagues Katie Fradley and Stephen Repton

Sophie Brown with her Flowlio colleagues Katie Fradley and Stephen Repton

“It’s the worst I’ve ever felt in my whole entire life,” she said. “I didn’t even want to leave the house and I wasn’t trolled that badly.

“I was probably working out six times a week, I was severely under-eating before I went in the show.  I was the smallest I’d ever been but still people say stuff about you and you think ‘bloody hell’.”

Brown compared her time on Married At First Sight to an ‘experiment’.

“My life was never the same again,” she said. “I go on dates and people come over and say ‘you were on Married At First Sight’ and I say ‘now is not the time’. I’ve never been on that many dates.”

The TV exposure saw her Instagram followers soar to 133,000 but the 28-year-old told podcast hosts Jen Atkinson and Chris Maguire that although she still hopes to meet her soulmate she’s focusing more on her career.

She’s just joined a new software and training startup called Flowlio as commercial director and board member.

“This is a major step for me personally and brings my experience from the commercial roles I have had in the past and takes that to the next level,” she said.

“I am looking after sales strategy, marketing, PR, events, documentation and agreements, a lot!  Any new business you have to get stuck into all areas of the business.”

  • You can listen to The Holiday That Changed My Life podcast on Spotify, Apple and all good podcast platforms. Listen here