TOWIE star Kate Wright wowed in an elegant, off-shoulder red gown at Wednesday night's (25 January) National Television Awards, but there was even more to gossip about the small screen star.

Wright, 25, grinned from ear to ear at the glitzy event, and a new rumour about her love life could be the reason behind her radiant smile on the night. The Sun reports that the reality television star is dating former footballer Rio Ferdinand.

The publication cites that the former Manchester United captain, 38, has enjoyed a string of nights out with Wright and mutual friends, but the pair are taking things slowly as they aim to keep their romance under wraps.

The budding relationship is unlikely to become serious any time soon, as Ferdinand's main priority is his three children following the death of his wife Rebecca in May 2015.

A source said: "Rio and Kate have enjoyed spending time with each other and with other friends. There's a real connection there but Rio is in no rush to turn this into a serious relationship.

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Kate Wright at the National Television Awards and is rumoured to be dating Rio Ferdinand  Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

"His number one priority are his three kids and he will always put their welfare in front of anything else. But Kate is very smitten with him and therefore happy to wait and see what happens," they added.

The former football star is still mourning the death of his wife Rebecca, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 34. But he and Wright are said to have spent some time together after being introduced by mutual friends in the Essex area – where the latter has built a big fan base for her role in The Only Way Is Essex.

Rio Ferdinand worries for young players
Rio Ferdinand is reportedly dating Kate Wright Getty Images

She became a main character on the show and was often featured for her on/off relationship with co-star Dan Edgar, 26, which has been a constant storyline in the reality series.

Newly single Wright has also garnered a huge social media following due to her busty Instagram selfies thanks to her curvy physique and tiny waist.

Ferdinand has avoided female company since the death of his wife, and has since focused on television work as a pundit for BT Sport, while also enjoying similar work with the BBC during the Euro 2016 coverage.

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A photo posted by Kate Wright (@xkatiewright) on