They were the pictures that raised the eyebrows of a nation: paparazzi shots showing Sophie Monk and her TV partner Stu Landy awkwardly kissing and showing signs of affection that looked less than sincere or real.
Now Sophie has confessed to staging the ‘proof of love’ scenes for the cameras.
'Every day I was getting burnt for not being affectionate, so there's paparazzi at the airport and I was like, “kiss me”, she told A Current Affair of the pictures – admitting the staged scenes were 'definitely for the paparazzi'.
But as for the romance with her choice from TV’s The Bachelorette – she’s still claiming it was real.
Sophie insists there was no contract in place obliging her to go through a charade of pretending to be with Stu. But cynical fans were in an uproar after the couple confirmed their long-rumoured split EXACTLY three months after the October 26 finale of The Bachelorette.
'There were no contracts or pressure to stay together whatsoever from anyone and we remain friends,' Sophie said in her Instagram statement - which followed three solid months of fan and media speculation that the couple were not really together.
Sophie, who entered The Bachelorette claiming she wanted to marry an 'ordinary Aussie guy' and have kids, instead chose millionaire Stu.
Confronted by The Project host Meschel Laurie in the wake of her TV choice, Sophie seemed taken aback as the star observed: 'You said in the beginning, "I just want a down-to-earth, normal guy who wants to get married and have kids." What you’ve chosen is a millionaire, who’s already married and had a vasectomy.'
Radio host Em Rusciano was one of the first to call out what she perceived to be the very odd and uncomfortable chemistry between the pair as they did media rounds promoting their romance in the wake of the show's finale.
'She, to me, looked uncomfortable and cagey and like she didn’t want to be there,' said the always forthright Em.
'I think Sophie Monk has got exactly what she wanted to get out of this show.
'I think she’s a smart businesswoman, that she wants to be in the entertainment industry and I think she’s become Australia’s darling. Everyone got to see her true skill and talent as a human and I think that she’s really played a trick on everyone because the ultimate prize for her will be a great career, not a man.
'I think she’s played everyone and I salute that and I high five Sophie Monk.'
Wild conspiracy theories have not stopped swirling among fans that the duo were playing happy couples because of media obligations as they promoted the highly lucrative Channel Ten show.
But Sophie insists these sensational and unsubstantiated 'fake love contract' theories are completely untrue. She says her search for love was entirely sincere and that the duo really were together the whole time.
'I went into this experience looking to settle down and start a family,' she says.
'I gave it the best shot I could and my intentions were everything I said I was looking for, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out.
'I sincerely want to apologise to anyone who invested so much love and support and I hope I haven’t disappointed anyone.'