Halfway through the first lockdown, Olly Murs sat down one night with his girlfriend to have a serious conversation.

The singer and new love Amelia Tank, isolating together at Olly’s Essex mansion, had been keeping fans amused by pulling cheeky pranks on each other in a series of hilarious TikTok videos.

They included Amelia Sellotaping Olly’s phone to his head after he threw her in the pool by her hair, and Olly soaking her with a giant water gun after she smashed an egg on his face.

Another showed Olly blasting his girlfriend with an air horn after she woke him up by smacking him across the face.

They were getting millions of views. And as the prank wars rumbled on, the practical jokes were getting more brutal.

Olly Murs and Amelia Tank have shared lots of hilarious social media videos during the lockdown
Olly Murs and Amelia Tank have shared lots of hilarious social media videos during the lockdown

“I’m a bit cheeky and I’ve always been someone who likes to have fun,” says Olly. “At home we were a bit bored and I posted a couple of videos having a bit of a laugh. We didn’t realise the reaction we were going to get. They went viral so we thought we should do some more.

“We just had fun, lots of people were messaging me, celebrities, newspapers, TV shows – everyone was talking about them. But in the end we did stop and say, hang on, things are getting out of hand.

“Me and Amelia sat down to talk about it and said, ‘Someone’s going to get hurt. The world’s going through a pandemic, I don’t think one of us wants to be in hospital because we’ve broken our arm or leg because of a prank.’

Olly Murs is back on TV this weekend for the latest series of The Voice
Olly Murs is back on TV this weekend for the latest series of The Voice

“We were doing so many pranks – and there were many more we didn’t post because they didn’t work or weren’t funny. And we thought it was time we stopped before something went wrong.”

By then the former X Factor star also faced a backlash and was forced to apologise after a rather rude prank on his girlfriend ­involving a Pringles tube. Olly said he only ever wanted to make people smile.

“It got rid of the boredom. I didn’t want to sing live sessions on Instagram like other singers were doing, that’s not the type of artist I am. I’m an entertainer not a performer, and that was my way of ­entertaining my fans.”

Olly Murs presented alongside Caroline Flack
Olly Murs presented alongside Caroline Flack

But while the prank ceasefire in Olly’s house is still holding, he insists that’s not the last fans will see of his capers.

The singer, who’s back on TV tomorrow as a coach for the first semi-final of The Voice, says: “I only didn’t prank the other judges because we have to keep our distance, but I would have if I’d been allowed.

“They’d better watch out next year.”

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Even so, he still wants the last laugh – by becoming the first judge to win the show three times, and all in a row.

Olly, 36, has won two of the three years he has been on the show. Tom Jones and former judge Ricky Wilson have also won two, while will.i.am, who has been a judge every year since the first series a decade ago, has only won once, he is told in our chat.

Olly and Amelia's social media videos have left fans in stitches
Olly and Amelia's social media videos have left fans in stitches

“Sorry, can you say that again?” teases Olly, putting his ear close to his Zoom screen. Ribbing his fellow judges for being unable to beat him for two years, he says his experience on the X Factor, when he came second in 2009, means he has the “winning formula”.

“It makes me laugh when they say they’re not competitive, that I’m the only one who really wants to win. I know that deep down they really want to win, they just don’t admit it.

“When in the past two years they came up to me and said congratulations, I could tell they didn’t want to say it. I’m not afraid to sit there and brag.”

Olly’s journey since finding fame on The X Factor hasn’t all been plain sailing. The singer fell into depression after his panned appearance as the ITV’s show’s host, alongside Caroline Flack, in 2015.

Despite that, he is still one of The X Factor’s most successful acts, selling 17million records with four No1 singles and six albums. Still having a massive fan base, he was set to embark on a huge UK tour last year, which is due to resume this summer.

And this time around, he says he is itching to leave the house. “I’ve really struggled with this last lockdown, much more than the first.

“I’m not sure why, if it’s because I’m more frustrated and angry. It’s just dragging on too long, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“The Voice has been a great ­distraction. Because we recorded the battles last year, I have had a lot of time to get the contestants ready.”

The lovebirds have been isolating together during the recent lockdown
The lovebirds have been isolating together during the recent lockdown

Olly embarked on a romance with Amelia, 27, a Lloyds Bank worker and bikini model, in 2019 after coming across her Instagram profile.

He asked her to move in with him at the beginning of last year. A year on, he says they are both “stronger than ever”, while the fitness enthusiast, who lifts weights every morning, has helped him get back into shape.

He says: “I’d asked her to move in before lockdown and that kind of saved me. It would have been weirder for us if we’d been pushed into it by the pandemic. We’re happy and life’s great.Our first date was at the gym. We have a common interest in training. In lockdown we made our own little room with some weights, it’s pretty basic but we’re doing what we can to keep fit and keep our minds active. We work really hard together and I enjoy it.

“Her exercises have helped me. If I’d continued doing what I was doing I’d have become really depressed. I love being around her.” He hints it might not be too long before there are others in his house he can play his pranks on.

“I want to have a family. Every birthday I think, ‘I’m not getting any younger, and I’d like to be a young, fit dad’. Amelia and I talk about it, and we’re both in the same place. Could it happen soon? Let’s see.”

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