“Heartstopper’s” Bradley Riches On His Viral Proposal, “Big Brother” Drama, And Being His True Self

Brits love tea, and I think the perfect time to have a cup of tea is when celebrating an engagement. Did you know the proposal was coming or did it take here to take you by surprise?

I kind of had inklings, like my best friend and his best friend came to watch me run a half marathon. But she got there at the finish line, and she lives up north. And then we dropped her at the airport that morning for her to get the train “home”, but then she was actually on my flight in Italy as well. So little moments like that. I was like, “Maybe it is happening, maybe it’s not, why are we going to Italy, that’s so random.” 

The pictures are so cute! Once you posted it on social media, they were everywhere. Were you surprised with how much the media picked it up?

How quickly they picked it up! Three minutes, I think it was The Mirror that posted it first. Three minutes after I put up my Instagram, my neighbour was messaging us like,  “I’ve just seen in The Sun that you’re engaged” I was like, “Okay, I haven’t told my mum yet.”

It wasn’t that long ago when celebrities maybe couldn’t be so open about who they were or their love interests. And I think people can see the joy you exude and the happiness you bring out because you are your true self. Where does that joy come from? Is that something you’ve always had? 

I think I lost it for a long time. I think it was when I was just so sad. I think it was just that moment, it was just like: where the hell is Bradley gone? Like my family started noticing, they were always asking “Are you okay?” I felt like I was ashamed and scared to speak to them about it. So it was all me and just me speaking with myself basically, when that moment happened when I was just like, “Oh, this is who I am, everyone can see me for who I am” type thing, I’ve just mentally been more positive. And just had more fun with life, I think.

We’re very fortunate to have shows like Heartstopper that allow people to feel represented. Why do you think Heartstopper is breaking ground when it comes to TV?

I think with a lot of people, all they want is to feel seen, and be seen and understood. It makes you understand yourself more. I think it makes you feel like you can do what you want to do. 

I totally agree. Because with the shows I had when I was younger, like Will and Grace, I didn’t relate to any of the gay characters on that show. So I was like, “well, maybe I’m not gay, because I’m not them.” I had two people to choose between, and I didn’t connect with either of them. 

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