You might not think it, but Love Island contestant Mike Boateng’s job in the police has been a training ground for life in the villa.
The officer is poised to be the ITV2 show’s new couples’ counsellor thanks to his role in the force, revealing he has “saved a lot of relationships” during his time working as a first responder.
Mike has told of how he would regularly go into couples’ homes and tell them “how to run their lives”.
Speaking to HuffPost UK and other journalists in Cape Town, South Africa ahead of entering the villa on Sunday, he said: “I haven’t saved anyone’s life but I like to think I’ve saved a lot of relationships. You’d be surprised, but we’re basically like marriage counsellors.
“We go into people’s houses and I tell people how to run their lives, which is weird, because I’ll go in and they’ve been married for 25 years and be there like, ‘you shouldn’t be doing that, you should show her more respect, look at the kids’.”
Mike, who actually applied to be on the show – unlike many other contestants who are scouted by producers – said he will “naturally” find the role of carer and confidante in the villa.
“If people need that person to talk to, they come to me and I’ll give them as much back as I can,” he said.
Asked how he will deal with confrontation in the villa compared to his job, he added: “The same way I deal with it, which is to be neutral. I definitely won’t pick sides, I always do what I feel is right and I always weigh up the options and see what’s going on.”
Mike, 24, also told of how his job had regularly placed him in danger, saying: “We deal with a lot of mental health, so unfortunately for them, they don’t really know what they’re doing most of the time, so it puts us in danger, but we’re trained to deal with that.”
He also credited meditation for helping his own mental health, which he claims is strong enough to cope with the pressures of the villa and the sudden, intense fame it will bring after.
“I meditate in my spare time, and I’ve got a really close family so I speak to them,” he said. “[The police] give us quite a lot of downtime if you are feeling a bit pressured and stuff like that, so I’ve got a lot of mechanisms to deal with.”
Mike has quit his job with Manchester Police to join Love Island, but revealed his bosses have kept his role open should he wish to return after the series.
He said: “I’m really fortunate in the sense that they’ve left the door open for me if I do wanna go back, which is really nice of them.
“Obviously with this kind of opportunity, anything can happen, but it shows that they trust me to represent myself well enough in that environment for me to then go back.”
Mike, who says former Islanders Amber Gill and Amy Hart are “his type on paper”, has also been getting coaching about appearing on reality TV from his brother Samuel, who was a candidate vying for Lord Sugar’s business investment on the 2016 series of The Apprentice.
“He has given me a few tips which I’m grateful for,” Mike explained. “He’s given me tips on how to act, how to speak to people and what to expect, so I feel like I’ve got an idea of what to expect when I get in the villa.”
Samuel was fired in a double sacking during the eighth week of the BBC reality show, but Mike expects to last longer in the Love Island process.
“There’s not really rivalry because I think I’m better than him anyway,” he jokes. “He might disagree, but that’s up for debate. I think I’ll do better than him.”
Love Island begins on Sunday at 9pm on ITV2.