THREE businesses are set to take centre stage in an upcoming episode of a hit Channel 4 show.

The Oak Tree restaurant, in Leigh Road, Leigh, as well as the Stoked Vegan BBQ, in Westcliff, and the Royal Hotel, in Southend, will feature in a special vegan-themed episode of Come Dine With Me: The Professionals.

The owners of the Oak Tree, which is “Southend’s biggest vegan venue”, have shared their excitement ahead of the episode being aired in April.

Although the programme was filmed 18 months ago, owners Jim and Sam Anderson have been “sworn to secrecy” until now.

Jim, 43, said: “The experience was absolutely incredible. You can’t get better exposure for our business than that.

“We’re hoping it will give us a bit of a bump. It’s so hard to run any business at the moment, let alone a restaurant.

“Like most people, my wife and I watch Come Dine with Me with fascination.”

The show was filmed over three days, with 15 hours spent filming each day. Each hour-long programme contains just 47 minutes of footage which will be used.

Jim added: “It gave us an incredible insight into how TV works.”

While the restaurant was closed for filming for two days, Jim and Sam were not allowed to tell customers or their staff why.

Jim said: “It’s the first time the ‘Professionals’ show has been filmed in Essex.

“We were miked up constantly, so we had to watch what we said. There were a couple of embarrassing moments with singing, dancing, or in my case rapping.

“The show will be aired to Channel 4 and then Netflix, where it could be watched by millions. That does keep you up at night.”

However, the show’s sardonic narrator is a cause for concern for Jim.

He added: “The fear is what Dave Lamb decides to say about you. He can be absolutely brutal.”

Despite his apprehension, Jim added: “It was a great opportunity to showcase Essex and the food we have to offer,”.

“If we come across well, which I’m sure we will, it will be wonderful to share our baby with the world. It can only be a good thing once the fear subsides. It was a really exciting experience.”

The Oak Tree and Stoked both were used as locations to host episodes, while all the interview scenes were shot at the Royal Hotel, in the High Street.

The show will air on Channel 4 on April 25.