Surrey's Natalya Platonova on The Circle win, countryside walks and online trolls
- Credit: Channel 4/Studio Lambert
The Reigate-raised winner of The Circle season three chats to us about her time on the show, her favourite Surrey spots, and the realities of being an influencer…
Winning £100k is a fantasy many of dream of, but very few experience. For some, this happens by chance, while others earn it. Natalya Platonova did just that – by catfishing as hunky army man Felix on Channel 4’s The Circle. The premise of the show involves members of the public communicating solely through The Circle ‘chat’, with no face-to-face or voice contact unless someone leaves.
By wooing Brummie Manrika and playing her cards right, she won a place in the final and came out on top. ‘Experiencing winning the show and the money is very weird – I've not really come to terms with it,’ says Natalya. ‘Watching the show back has made it sink in more too, because I’ve watched it along with the public.’
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With gorgeously decorated apartments and a no-phones policy, apart from all the drama of the show, Natalya found the experience quite relaxing. ‘To me, it was more like an Airbnb break because it was such a lovely flat. We got food, and I had lovely producers that spoke to me all day. It was only when I was talking to like Manrika or the players, that's when I'd be in acting mode,’ she reveals. ‘The rest was downtime, and we were just relaxing – I was reading books, baking cakes, and I only went to the gym once!’
Although she did have emotional moments towards the end of the competition, Natalya was able to overcome her worries and triumph. But looking back, she has a couple of regrets. ‘I think I would have picked a more average-looking person from the military to play, as I would have probably had an easier or more enjoyable time talking to the players in there,’ Natalya says. ‘But I can't look back and think like that, and we're all friends now and everything's fine.’
So far, she’s spent a portion of the money on her family and is looking at buying a house in Surrey – although with house prices in the area being high, she is considering look further afield.
After being raised in Reigate, she’s based in Sandhurst at the military academy, working as a military police woman. ‘I’m currently on an attachment to the army diversity team, so we go out and inform the wider audience of what the military do.’
Natalya is a keen advocate of the opportunities the army provides. ‘The friendships you make are so strong as everyone’s together during training, I’ve been to 30 countries in the past three years – it's such a fun job where you're never stuck in one place for too long, moving around and doing new things.’
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Her home base is Reigate though, with the family moving to the town when she was 10.
‘We originally came from Uzbekistan, then moved to Surrey, that's where I grew up. Then I went to Reigate school, I went to Godalming College because I thought it would be cool to travel a bit farther away. I loved my college years, as I love Guildford with all its shops and countryside walks.’
Natalya loves exploring the Surrey countryside and landscape both in work and leisure time. ‘I love the Devil's Punch Bowl at Hindhead Commons. We do military training there but it's just nice to walk. I also like the cute little towns like Bramley, Dorking and Shere. My partner and I went to Shere the other day, and were amazed by the Silent Pool lake.
‘I’d love a cute cottage there with lots of dogs – that's my dream. I’d have three dogs, and a huge garden with a rope swing, trees as I like climbing them, and a cool outdoor play area.’
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Looking to the future, Natalya intends to keep working as a military policewoman, but is also keen to use her new platform to spread positivity and awareness of online abuse – something that has plagued players especially this year, and which they all teamed up to make a video about.
'With what happened with Caroline Flack, and everything else that's gone on, it’s a really prevalent issue and it is important that we talk about it. People have been stuck at home and it's been easy for them to attack people online. But hopefully the more we tell people this is wrong, people will be more understanding and mindful about what they post.’
From bossing it as a military policewoman to being a positive reality TV role model, Natalya is a strong, empowering woman who is a bright star shining brightly in and holding the flag for Surrey.
Catch up on all episodes of The Circle, available on All4 now.