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Love Island

“Like letting tigers loose on gladiators”


God help us, Love Island is back, says Carol Midgley in The Times. Since it started in 2015, the ITV2 reality show has been torturous telly. The premise is simple: a group of “beautiful” but “dim” people pile into a villa for eight weeks to find love. To survive, you need to be in a couple – but every week the producers cart in more beautiful dimwits in the hope of breaking couples up. There’s bed-hopping, heartbreak and evictions. It’s dreadful TV – the first episode consisted of a toe-sucking competition and a lot of “underboob”. It was “a televised cattle market of the vapid and vacuous wearing cheese wire-thonged bikinis”.

Far from it, says Joel Golby in The Guardian. This year’s Love Island will be better than ever: the trouble with recent seasons has been the total lack of sex. In the early days “contestants were constantly fumbling under duvets”, but once the show became huge, the islanders became frightfully chaste – terrified of ruining their post-villa careers. “But now it is 2021 and nobody single has legally had sex for 15 months. This could be the sexual equivalent of when they let tigers loose on gladiators.”

Sexy or not, none of this offsets the real problem with the show, says Rebecca Reid in the Telegraph: “Namely the fact that two previous contestants and the former host Caroline Flack have all died by suicide.” The islanders are subjected to endless social media abuse when they leave the villa, and ITV does precious little to support them. This year the broadcaster asked viewers to “think before they post” online about contestants. It’s hardly a solution – after all, ITV is manipulating the contestants in the first place. Love Island is filmed for 24 hours a day, six days a week, but we see a highly edited version. Conversations are taken out of context, scenes are staged for drama and people are moulded into villains. It’s good telly, but at whose expense?

🌴 In 2018 Love Island had more than 150,000 applicants. Oxford and Cambridge attracted only 40,000.

👙 Love Island actually began in 2005, just not as we know it now. Originally it was a celebrity dating show in which semi-famous people were trapped on an island to try to find love. The line-up included socialite and model Lady Isabella Hervey; Calum Best, son of George; and American basketball star Dennis Rodman. It lasted two seasons before being cancelled.

💋 This year’s Love Island is the “most middle-class ever”, says Polly Vernon in The Times. Contestants include a civil servant, a financial services marketing manager and a part-time sports teacher at the boarding school Blundell’s. Hugo, the aforementioned teacher, announced on the show that he once had sex with his girlfriend in the middle of a road. Blundell’s has since said he will not be returning to work.