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Love Island: Addictive TV hit has a Midlands flavour this year

By Nathan Rowden | Entertainment | Published:

Telly addicts can’t get enough of Love Island – even if many are sniffy about the romantic reality romp. But what is it that keeps people coming back?

The current cast of Love Island in a promotional picture for the show

It’s likely to be the talk of your office and down the pub for weeks to come. That’s right, a group of scantily clad good looking youngsters have hit the screens for Love Island, and you’re unlikely to hear about anything else.

Say what you like about the ITV2 reality show, but its just entered it’s fifth series and it’s not doing too badly.

The station insists that, when you include people watching on catch-up, 4.2 million viewers tuned in to meet the latest batch of twenty-somethings who will be spending their summer in a villa on Mallorca.

By comparison, the hotly-anticipated first episode of the final series of blockbuster fantasy epic Game Of Thrones drew in a UK audience of 3.4 million – although it was on Sky, making it less accessible to the casual viewer.

Strictly Come Dancing's Chloe Hewitt with Shropshire's Curtis Pritchard while at a recent performance at a Shrewsbury care home

If you’re just coming into this series and have no idea what people are on about, Love Island is in essence a dating show with a reality twist.

It combines the relentless scrutiny of the Big Brother house with the salivating, look-at-the-muscles-on-him voyeurism of Take Me Out – and splashes the whole thing with Hollyoaks histrionics.

It finds a group of good-looking young people who insist they are unlucky in love, packs them all together on a Mediterranean island, and encourages flirting, arguments, romance and maybe some more X-rated moments.

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Competitors are cut off from the outside world, but are equipped with mobile phones which only allow them to send pictures and communicate with each other.

By now, you’re ether intrigued or you’ve rolled your eyes.

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And there will always be plenty of people who get sniffy about the Love Island, in the same way there are those who pride themselves on having never caught a glimpse of Game of Thrones.

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Both programmes have loyal groups of viewers – even if they might not be everybody’s cup of tea.

Skimpy

And there are comparisons to be drawn between these two very different programmes, too – specifically, in the amount of flesh on show.

Love Island’s female competitors spend every day wearing skimpy swimming costumes, the men only their shorts. The women are uniformly beautiful, the men all have six-packs that most certainly didn’t come from Bargain Booze.

This year there’s added interest for the West Midlands.

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Curtis Pritchard, a dancer from Shropshire, has waltzed into the Love Island villa in Spain to join 10 other already matched contestants with the aim of unbalancing the numbers and coming between couples. It’s hardly surprising to see why there is plenty of drama.

Curtis, 23, whose family are from Whitchurch and own a dance studio near the town, is a ballroom and Latin dancer recognisable from Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars. His brother AJ has been a regular on Strictly Come Dancing.

He made a surprise entrance into the reality TV programme with boxer Tyson Fury’s boxer’s brother, Tommy.

Proximity

He had been dating fellow dancer Emily Barker for two years, before they split earlier this year.

He explained on ITV2: “My ex-girlfriend was my dance partner. We danced with each other from when we were 12 until we were 14, we were the champions.

“When we got older we got into a relationship. You spend a lot of time with each other when you’re dancing together.

“You’re always in a close proximity so it would be weird not to get feelings even if it’s just to be a best friend or if it’s to fall in love.”

Curtis will also be in with a shout of winning £50,000 if he gets coupled up, and the public take a shine to him – although the winning couple are challenged to split their winnings, and if they both try to ‘steal’ it they end up with nothing.

Love Island has recently become part of a broader debate about reality TV after the death of a guest who appeared on the now-cancelled Jeremy Kyle Show.

But at the start of its current run and, despite some concerns over post-show welfare after two former contestants committed suicide last year, the reality format remains popular with the public.

Presenter Caroline Flack says she sympathises with contestants and wishes she could take sides with those struggling in relationships.

She said: “I have to stay impartial but of course if you see someone in there and you feel for them, you want to just go in there and say ‘it’s okay, I’m here on your side’. But I can’t, I have to be professional.”

Nathan Rowden

By Nathan Rowden
@NathRowden_Star

Senior news feature writer based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Telford. I like to get out, meet people and tell their stories.

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