Monday 27 May 2019

'Love Island': the beginner's guide

Missed out on the reality TV sensation of summer 2017? Well, it's back again, and we've got everything you need to know about the rules, the lingo and which contestants to watch out for this year

Young love: From left, Adam Collard, Hayley Hughes, Jack Fincham, Kendall Rae-Knight, Niall Aslam, Samira Mighty, Dr Alex George, Dani Dyer, Wes Nelson, Laura Anderson and Eyal Booker. Photo: ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Young love: From left, Adam Collard, Hayley Hughes, Jack Fincham, Kendall Rae-Knight, Niall Aslam, Samira Mighty, Dr Alex George, Dani Dyer, Wes Nelson, Laura Anderson and Eyal Booker. Photo: ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Reality series Love Island was a runaway success last year, becoming the most-watched show in the history of ITV2 as 2.43 million viewers tuned in to watch the final live on television last July.

In Ireland, too, Love Island fever gripped the nation, with water cooler conversations dominated by Kem and Chris' bromance, Camilla's break up with Jonny over her feminist principles, and the proper definition of 'melt'.

This year's series kicked off on Monday, pulling in 105,000 viewers on 3e and thousands more on the 3Player - if you're going to survive the summer, understanding the world of Love Island is now a pre-requisite. If you didn't watch it last year, here is everything you need to know about the show.

What time is Love Island on air?

The programme airs on 3e at 9pm, with new episodes on television six nights a week and a recap episode on Saturdays.

How long is the series on for?

2017's series was the longest series to date, lasting for seven weeks - and we expect 2018's offering to dominate the TV schedule for a similar amount of time.

The first iteration of the show, Celebrity Love Island, ran in 2005 - returning again in 2006 before being cancelled - with famous people signed on as contestants instead of members of the public. Calum Best, Lady Isabella Hervey, Sophie Anderton, Rebecca Loos and Brendan Cole were among the most notable names; however, in the second season, the word 'celebrity' was dropped from the show's title following uproar over some contestants' level of fame.

After eight years off air, the programme was then recommissioned in 2015 to little noise. However, last year, with the third series of the rebooted version, it became a word-of-mouth hit, turning into the TV sensation of the summer. Reality show-naysayers, flabbergasted parents and celebrities galore were converted to the Love Island fold - last month, the show even won a Bafta.

How does the Love Island format work?

The couples on Love Island can change faster than it takes to say '100pc my type on paper'. Romantics say the aim of the game is to find love; cynics say it is to stay in a couple until the final so there's a chance of bagging the £50,000 prize.

The contestants stay in a Majorcan villa that has only double beds, forcing the Islanders to share with one another. With 69 cameras installed, the contestants' every move is captured and up for debate. Last year a second villa, dubbed Casa Amor, was unveiled in the middle of the series; all the men were relocated to it with new female contestants, before photos of their shenanigans were delivered to the outraged women in the original house.

When the contestants first arrive, they are coupled with another Islander. However, over the course of the series, contestants can be re-coupled (either by choice or not - sometimes a contestant is given a new beau without wanting one). Plus, contestants are regularly voted out by the public (yes, the cruel power to create heartbreak is in our hands) and new ones brought in, throwing chaos into the mix.

What are the rules?

This year's offering comes with more severe rules (perhaps to make the show more appropriate in a post #MeToo era), with each contestant to be given a handbook at the start of their time in the villa.

Contestants are no longer allowed to have drunken sex and there will be a counsellor on hand to offer emergency contraception and talk to Islanders after they engage in sexual activity.

Masturbation has also reportedly been banned, as well as complete nudity - even in the shower.

Plus, smoking has been restricted following a slew of complaints last year that contestants' regular lighting up glamorised the habit (there were more complaints to regulator Ofcom about smoking than sex). Instead of lighting up around the pool, Islanders will now have to seek permission from a producer and will only be allowed to smoke in a special 'hut'.

Who are the contestants?

Along with a raft of models and retail managers, this year's 11 contestants include West End performer Samira, A&E doctor Alex and, would you believe, geezer acting legend Danny Dyer's daughter Dani Dyer. More than 80,000 people applied for a place on this year's series - four times the number that applied for a place at Cambridge University in 2017.

Who is the host?

Caroline Flack has been manning the programme since its return in 2015. She rose to fame in her role as Bubbles on Bo' Selecta! in 2002 and has since hosted The X Factor and won series 12 of Strictly Come Dancing. Last year, she argued that it's the relationships that are key to the show's success - not the sex.

"The sex is literally as interesting as them making a cup of tea," she said. "When you're into the storyline you're like, 'Oh no, stop that bit, we just want to hear what you're going to say.'"

Where are the Love Island winners and couples now?

Book deals, fashion collaborations and public appearances have helped the Islanders rake in money since the series ended - but have the financial opportunities helped keep the couples together? In short, no.

Last year, lovebirds Kem Cetinay and Amber Davies were the winning couple, sharing the £50,000 prize money. Amber soon signed a £500,000 contract with clothing label Motel Rocks, while collectively the couple were estimated to earn £1.25m.

Despite Kem saying Amber was 100pc his future wife in the finale, they split in December 2017.

They stated: "With sadness, we've decided to separate. Our schedules made it difficult. We'll remain good friends."

It appears only two couples from the series are left standing: Camilla Thurlow and Jamie Jewitt are still together, as well as Dom Lever and Jess Shears, who are engaged.

In fact, Lever and Shears took part in a fake wedding on Good Morning Britain on Valentine's Day earlier this year, dressed only in white swimwear.

But what about the winners from previous shows - surely they're still together? Alas, the road hasn't been easy for them either. 2015 winners Jessica Hayes and Max Morley quickly called it quits after leaving the villa.

While 2016 winners Nathan Massey and Cara De La Hoyde have had an on-off relationship, although Cara gave birth to their son Freddie-George at the end of last year.

© Telegraph

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