Thursday 18 July 2019

Love Island - the highs and the lows, and what has changed this year

As another crop of fame-hungry contestants prepare to head to the Mallorca villa, Sheena McGinley looks back at the highs and lows of Love Island so far...

Zara and Rosie (ITV)
Zara and Rosie (ITV)
Zara Holland on Love Island

Sheena McGinley

Here we are again, lads. Prepare for slo-mo montages, intense teeth and more Boomerang edits than your eyeballs can handle. But before we dive into the past annals of shredded abs and bared bottoms, let’s assume not everyone under the sun has seen Love Island... here’s the history bit.

WHAT IS THIS ‘LOVE ISLAND’?

Rebooted in 2015, this upgraded version of the Noughties original sees innumerable members of the opposite sex, all in their 20s, vying for a £50k prize. How do they get it? They must last a seemingly indeterminable time, rolling around fake grass in their scanties before being voted the most likeable couple by viewers.

Singletons are “vulnerable” and, therefore, won’t survive the show’s full stint. Indeed, it isn’t the best message to send to the flurry of impressionable teens viewing so, obviously, it’s worth reminding oneself it’s a TV Show. It is not real life.

In fact, just how “real” is this “reality TV” show?

A contestant from the 2016 series, Zara Holland, spoke on Channel 4’s Dispatches Jeremy Kyle: TV on Trial regarding how the production process was for her. The 23-year-old, who was in the villa for three weeks, said: “We had two producers living with us 24 hours a day. They lived in the basement of the villa. There was also a voice in the wall. So, let’s say I might have said something and the voice in the wall would say, ‘Zara, you need to say that again because we didn’t catch that on camera’.

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Adam and fellow contestant Zara Holland on Love Island

“They tell you what to do all the time. You were very, very easily led by them and you trusted them... They really played with my emotions.”

ITV has been through the wringer of late regarding aftercare protocol when it comes to their show contestants or “contributors”. Since Jeremy Kyle was cancelled in the wake of a contributor’s death after a lie detector result, the producers of Love Island have now reportedly scrapped that segment of the show.

They have also chosen to abandon the separate ‘Casa Amour’ villa this year, as that element last year caused particular strain on Dani Dyer and Georgia Steele. Speaking of Dani Dyer...

THE BIGGEST STARS

At the risk of repeating oneself, unlike its original incarnation from the mid-Noughties, the show doesn’t revolve around a load of perennially available “celebrities” (which, at the time, comprised of such household names as Paul Danan, Calum Best, Fran Cosgrave and Rebecca Loos) lounging about rustic mud huts farting at each other. In other words, there are no standout names entering the villa — unless you include the likes of Marcel Somerville (Rocky B, Plat’num B or Bezzle to his mates) from hip-hop group Blazin’ Squad, who was a finalist in 2017.

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Curtis Pritchard.

By way of context, the “stars” of Love Island tend to be people with a marginally famous relative. For example, this year, we have Curtis Pritchard, the brother of Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer AJ. We also have Tommy Fury, the brother of boxer Tyson. Last year, we had Dani Dyer, daughter of EastEnders actor Danny Dyer. Therefore, they are arguably the “biggest names” going into the show.

However, contestants are far more notorious after their stint in the villa. Well, for at least a year, anyway, until the new batch of lovelorn, fame-hungry hoard descend on Mallorca.

STANDOUT MOMENTS

Clearly, there are too many; Malia and Kady and that spilt drink on the first night of the 2016 run, which resulted in Malia being ousted from the show... Josh returning from Casa Amour with Kaz last year... Wes telling Laura, the woman he’d recently declared his love to, that he’d be “happier to crack on with someone else”, ie, Megan... these are but some honourable mentions. 

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Josh and Kaz (ITV)

However, it’d be remiss not to feature those who helped make Love Island appointment viewing from the offset. Show producers have contestants such as Jon Clark and Hannah Elizabeth to thank for Love Island’s enduring success to date.

In 2015, Jon and Hannah Elizabeth were the first official Love Island couple to, eh, do the deed on screen, and the first Love Island couple to get engaged on screen.

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Jon and Hannah on Love Island

While Jon and Hannah embodied the fuzzy things about the show, Malin and Terry’s relationship in 2016 encapsulated its more salacious side. Not only did they have sex in front of their fellow islanders in the communal bedroom, Terry then went on to unceremoniously ditch Malin for new girl, Emma, who came into the villa 24 hours after her departure.

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Terry Walsh and Emma-Jane Woodham, openly had sex on ITV's reality TV show 'Love Island'

After recording Malin back home in her sitting room, watching Terry and Emma canoodle, producers then flew her back out to confront Terry on the show. This proved to be a ratings hit. Unsurprisingly, the brutal ‘Casa Amour’ element was introduced the following year.

SOUNDEST CONTESTANT

Tall, dark, interesting, not overly shredded, half Irish and therefore gifted in the gab, Niall Aslam had it all. And then, he jumped ship. Why?

He did the mature thing, got his ducks in a row and — by extension — himself sorted. Shortly after his impromptu exit, he posted to Instagram stating that he had Asperger’s syndrome and that was the reason he had left.

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Niall on Love Island (ITV)

His statement read: “It’s not been an easy ride for me to come to terms with this fact, but I am glad that I can now accept who I am, and am looking forward to my next chapter.”

As for what that is? When he’s not captioning selfies with such nuggets as, “Don’t mind me, just filling out this shirt an absolute treat”, he’s out raising awareness for Britain’s National Autistic Society.

GASLIGHT ALERT

While Terry from the second season may have exhibited tendencies, Adam Collard was arguably made the poster boy of gaslighting last year.

What is “gaslighting”? The term comes from the 1938 play, Gaslight, and is defined as the “manipulation of [someone] by psychological means into doubting their own sanity”.

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Adam Collard apologises to Rosie Williams (ITV)

Collard’s on-screen treatment of his second villa conquest, Rosie Williams, motivated Women’s Aid to release a statement.

The organisation’s chief executive, Katie Ghose, said that Collard’s behaviour towards Williams exhibited signs of “gaslighting and emotional abuse”, and the organisation asked viewers to make a stand against domestic abuse.

BEST COUPLE

There have been worthy winners, all of which have done the decent thing and split the £50k prize money with their Island partner (they have the option not to).

As for who is still together? Precious few.

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Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer were crowned winners in 2018. They have since split up (Ian West/PA)

We thought last year’s winners Jack Finchman and Dani Dyer were for life, but they’ve split. Kem and Amber also split a few months after winning the prize in 2017 (on the plus side, Kem did meet the true love of his life on the show — Chris Hughes).

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Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowen (PA)

Equally, there are success stories. 2016 runners up Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowen got married in September of last year. Another 2016 couple who are still going strong — to the point of producing Love Island’s first ever baby — are Cara De La Hoyde and Nathan Massey. Considering not ONE of the rumoured contestants doing the rounds during the build-up to this year’s show actually made it to the villa, ITV should consider televising the Islanders selection process and what it involves. Now that would make for some proper reality TV.

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Yewande Biala (23) from Dublin. Love Island 2019

Apart from that, there’s only one more thing to say, and that’s G’WAN YEWANDE! (That’s Yewande Biala: the Dublin scientist lined up for this year’s show.)

Read more: 'We were allowed just two drinks a night': The truth about life on Love Island

‘I would say I’m a ten, but not in a cocky way’ - Love Islanders' pre-show interviews are a treat

Who is Yewande Biala? Everything you need to know about Love Island's Dublin scientist

Love Island 2019: Dublin scientist and DWTS pro Curtis Pritchard among contestants coupling up in Majorca  

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