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Don't Let Us Down, ITV2. A Gay Love Island Would Be EVERYTHING

14/07/2017 10:50 BST | Updated 14/07/2017 10:51 BST

Statistically, it's 210 times harder to get into Big Brother than Harvard. Love Island received over 60,000 applications this year, so the odds of being cast (1 in 2,000) are akin to the chance of you fatally slipping in the bath or shower.

Regardless of which option is more appealing, we can snub those currently enjoying 15 minutes of reality TV 'limelight' in Majorca or Elstree all we like. But in many respects, they're 'high achievers'. The elite.

I've always had a fascination with the inner workings and cultural significance of reality TV and have spent the last four years creating and touring Losers, an interactive theatre show (now Edinburgh Fringe-bound) satirising the depths participants will go for a big break.

While researching reality contestant demographics from the '90s onwards, one absence caught my attention. And - the week after the largest and most publicised London Pride in history - you only need to turn on Love Island or Take Make Out and the same absence is still incredibly notable: the LGBTQI+ community.

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This year's Love Island cohort. Image: ITV

If we are to accept recent reports that 50% of young people don't identify as exclusively heterosexual, accurate representation of the UK's 'reality' might be low for everyone. But they're indisputably worse - even proportionately - for that community.

That's not to say we've been entirely absent from popular formats. The casting of a (usually lone) gay partisan has been a predictable textual strategy since the early days of the 'daddy' of reality shows Survivor, and the (now hilarious, give it a watch) Big Brother 1. 'Difference' obviously provides the impetus for disruption, upon which reality narratives thrive. And little created more sure-fire 'fuss' - particularly in the '90s - than shoving an 'out-and-proud' and a homophobe together.

Typically when LGBTQI+ contestants feature though, a combination of casting and selective editing ensures their roles remain formulaic. Cis gay males (unsurprisingly, the most frequently cast of the community) almost always exist as devices for lovestruck females to entrust their deepest feelings about two-day showmances to.

Very rarely the focus of storylines, we're the ones who either comfort or stir. Historically, it's been pretty much unheard of for Big Brother, Survivor or even Made in Chelsea to cast more than one non-heterosexual person per series, thus denying these individuals even the possibility of having a love story of their own.

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Arthur stars in Losers, which explores the dubious ethics of reality TV. Credit: Peter Marsh

Onto the subject of those: Love Island suddenly seems to have become permissible viewing for the middle classes. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that; I've obviously been captivated by the weirdly anthropological interest of similar shows for many years and am glad it finally seems to have caught on.

It's compelling and a refreshingly strategic format, which is perhaps the reason it's acceptable water cooler talk in a way Ex on the Beach certainly isn't. And while I obviously understand the lack of any gay, bi or queer contestants on the existing series from a practical perspective (the lack of compatible others), wouldn't there be double the drama on an all-gay or bi series? The limitations of who could pair up with who would be entirely removed: leading to twice as many possible combinations. And twice as many fall-outs. Glorious.

There are rumours that the producers are adding some lesbian couples into the mix to 'spice up the final few weeks' - a definite step in the right direction, but it still reeks of supporting roles to me. There's whispers of the move being ITV2's trial before a full spin-off series. So don't let us down ITV2: a proper series - with LGBTQI+ characters not being afterthoughts but the owners of storylines - would be EVERYTHING.

The new Blind Date very consciously brought itself into the 21st century last week, with its first instance of lesbian match-making being received with great praise. Shows like First Dates and Naked Attraction are surprisingly progressive with their casual treatment of sexuality. Here LGBT+ pairings frequently pop up without anyone (narrator, selective editing, the programme's PR agency) making a big deal out of it. Perfect.

So come on Love Island, Take Me Out, Made in Chelsea et al. Get your act together. The LGBTQI+ communities are ready to play more than just supporting roles on your formats. And - as I've explained - they'd give you bang for your buck.

See Arthur give you 'bang for your buck' in Losers at Underbelly Cowgate at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 3-27 (not 14), 23:20.