23 Things You Probably Never Knew About Love Island

We've uncovered the secrets of the nation's favourite reality show.
Love Island presenter Maya Jama will take the reins for the show's ninth season
Love Island presenter Maya Jama will take the reins for the show's ninth season
Vincent Dolman/Shutterstock

Nine series in, you’d think we all had a pretty good idea of how Love Island works by now.

However, theres a hell of a lot that goes on behind the scenes that most fans never get to see.

With Love Island fever about to sweep the nation once again, we’ve uncovered 23 secrets you didn’t know about your favourite reality show...

1. No one in the villa has any idea what the time is

With clocks and watches banned from the villa, you never know what the time is.

Former contestant Montana Brown told The Independent: “[Producers] wake you up by putting the lights on, or a voiceover will say ‘Islanders, it’s time to get up’.”

Series five’s Michael Griffiths revealed to GQ that a group of them tried to make a sundial in order to tell the time in 2019, but they “still couldn’t figure out” what time it was.

2. They still often film the recouplings and dumplings very late at night


Some ceremonies are shot in the wee small hours, with filming sometimes going on as late as three in the morning.

We’re told that’s because this is when the Islanders are least expecting the surprises producers have in store. It also gives them time to count votes from viewers, as lines often don’t close until 11.30pm Spanish time.

3. All lunches and dinners are provided

Ever wondered why there is such little footage of the Islanders at meal times? Well, that’s because they have their main meals prepared by on-site caterers.

Contestants do make their own breakfasts and snacks (ingredients for which are all provided, too), but they will sit down twice a day to eat a meal that has already been prepared for them.

In fact, the only time the Islanders cook is when it’s part of a challenge or date.

Revealing what the catering is like, series four winner Dani Dyer previously told Hello: “There are salads, meat and fish, but you would end up eating their chips because the chips were so nice.

4. The Islanders are not filmed at those meal times

Nat Morris/ITV

Not only do the cameras stop rolling while the contestants are chowing down, it’s also a chance for producers to speak to the Islanders.

Series three’s Olivia Attwood told Vice: “If there were any problems, they would discuss them with us – if the villa was too messy, or they’d moan at us for not wearing sunscreen. It was like having a sit down dinner with your mum and dad.”

5. Those that get scouted by producers don’t necessarily jump the queue

By now, we all know that the Love Island casting team like to slide into people’s DMs to recruit Islanders – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are at an advantage over those who apply to the show.

Series four contestant Eyal Booker said that even those approached to take part still have to attend numerous casting sessions and fill in endless forms and questionnaires.

“If you get past that round, you got into another with 30 or 40 people and you’re sat in a room… and you have to fill out more questionnaires,” he told HuffPost in 2019. “And then you go in and meet someone for a quick chat.

“Then if you get past that round, you meet more people to do with the show and then more people, and then you wait quite a long time.

“Someone will either get in touch and say we’re really thinking about having you on the show or you just wouldn’t hear anything back.”

6. Islanders are cut off from the outside world before entering the villa


Each Islander is assigned a chaperone for the week leading up to the show’s launch.

After confiscating Islanders’ phones, these chaperones then accompany them on their flight to Spain – usually on a budget airline, alongside regular passengers off on their holidays – after which they enter a lockdown period.

In order to keep the Islanders’ identities secret from the public and one another, they’re all kept in different hotels across Mallorca, with no phones, social media or contact with family and friends.

“It’s basically like going into the villa before you do,” Eyal told HuffPost. “You’re kind of just chilling, I just sunbathed every day because you can’t really venture anywhere on your own, outside your hotel.”

Series two’s Malin Andersson added: “It was so annoying. [The chaperone] was there all the time, seeing if I had a secret phone, seeing if I was up to anything.

“She’d follow me to the toilet in a restaurant. It was so boring.”

7. The Islanders meet a select group of journalists before entering the villa

In a pre-Covid world, a group of journalists fly out to Love Island to meet all the contestants before they enter the villa so they can be interviewed.

This entails all the Islanders leaving their separate lockdown locations and being in the same hotel at the same time, but the production team carry out a military-style operation to ensure that they never cross paths.

8. The contestants are held in locations surrounding the villa on launch day


To ensure that the Islanders can all make their big entrances into the villa, producers have them all set up at various spots around the location.

Malin remembered being in a tent with headphones on and “a blindfold for about three and a half hours” so that she “couldn’t see or hear anything that was going on” before making her entrance.

9. There is another lockdown villa for dumped Islanders to stay in

If you leave the series before the final, you are sent to stay in a lockdown villa after your exit. This is because the re-couplings and dumpings are often pre-recorded up to two days in advance of them airing on TV, so the identity of anyone dumped from the Island needs to remain a secret.

The second villa has the same restrictions as the main one – no mobile phones or laptops, no contact with the outside world, including family – and dumped Islanders have just a chaperone for company.

Series three contestant Johnny Mitchell told HuffPost in 2018: “You still don’t have any real concept of what’s happened but I had a pretty good idea of what was going on because I had a good chaperone, he was feeding me bits of information.

“It’s boring, there’s nothing to do there. I’d just had five weeks of sunbathing so I didn’t really want to do anymore. I was going out of my mind a little bit.”

10. Bosses don’t like the contestants being inside

“Normally they’d try to encourage us out of the bedroom into the garden – they hated us being inside,” Olivia Attwood told Vice.

11. There are parts of the villa the Islanders – or indeed, viewers – never get to see

Nat Morris/ITV

In the villa used between 2017 and 2021, the back wall of the bedroom was actually false, and behind it was the villa’s real kitchen.

The kitchen we saw on screen was installed outside every year in a bid to keep the Islanders outside for longer.

There was also an unused bedroom and bathroom upstairs in the villa, which was next to the Beach Hut and used to store kit.

12. The pool is the main reason why the show changed location in 2017


You may remember that the first two series of Love Island were hosted at a villa in Santanyi on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

The move from there, which came in 2017, happened mainly because the huge pool in the original villa was difficult to heat, meaning the Islanders spent barely any time in it, producers told HuffPost.

13. Sometimes, the Islanders get a day off from filming

This appears to have varied from series to series, as season three’s Kem Cetinay previously revealed that the Islanders had every Saturday off during the run.

“It gives them a day to clean the villa and you take your mics off and normally we go to the beach and we just chill out,” Kem told This Morning in 2019.

“Not a lot of people know this. What happens is when you take your mics off, you’re not allowed to talk about anything to do with the show.

“You’ve got to talk about home life. You’re being watched by an evil hawk, by the producers because they don’t want you to talk about what’s going on.”

However, series five’s Amy Hart and Joanna Chimonides both insisted this was not the case when they were in the villa in 2019.

14. Alcohol consumption is strictly monitored in the villa


Many former Islanders have spoken of the two-drink rule they had to abide by while living in the villa, having a choice of either beer or wine, or bubbles for a special occasion.

However, a production source told HuffPost that there’s actually no set limit on the amount of booze each contestant is allowed, instead judging it “on a case-by-case basis”.

“We’re really careful they don’t have too much to drink. We’re responsible about it,” they said.

15. The South African villa previously made another TV appearance


Love Island relocated to Cape Town in South Africa for the first-ever winter series in 2020, where a huge new villa made its debut.

The stunning property, which boasted views of the iconic Table Mountain, was previously used in the Black Mirror episode Rachel, Jack And Ashley Too, in which Miley Cyrus appears as Ashley O.

16. The Love Island fixtures and fittings are built and stripped out for each series

Bosses make many structural changes and completely revamp the villa to create the version of it we see on screen. However, they must return it to its original state before handing it back to the owners at the end of each series.

Features including the decking, outdoor kitchen, pergola, sunbeds and the perimeter walls are built specifically for the show and are put into storage in between each season.

It usually takes about eight weeks to transform the Love Island villa, although we’re told it only takes around half that time to strip everything out again.

17. There are a number of topics off limits for Islanders to discuss

“You’re not allowed to really talk about the outside world that much, obviously you can’t talk about brands and things,” series one contestant Chris Williamson told the BBC.

“There’s a tannoy system where they come over like a mother telling off naughty children, reminding you that you’re not supposed to be talking about this or that.”

18. Some more produced elements of the show are shot multiple times


Love Island has always been open about the fact it contains a mixture of pure reality and more produced elements, and some of those moments can be filmed more than once.

For example, series three contestant Johnny Mitchell claimed he had to film his exit from the villa “three or four times”.

“It was kind of awkward because I waved everyone goodbye and then you walk to the end of the path,” he explained to HuffPost. “Then they say, ‘Go back’, so you’re like, ‘Hi everyone, again’ and then, ‘Bye!’. It’s weird.”

The show’s late host Caroline Flack also once told us that she used to shoot her famous entrances into the villa at least three times – once from the front, once from the back and once from the side.

19. The contestants are not filmed in the toilet but there’s still a camera in there

“There are cameras watching you when you are on the toilet but they are cameras not for the public to see,” series five’s Arabella Chi said (via The Sun).

“They are just cameras which are just to make sure you are ok.”

20. Not all the clothes you see the contestants in are their own

Since 2018, the show has had a clothing brand partnership, meaning the contestants have access to free clothes to wear in the villa. However, they are not obligated to wear them if they do not want to.

In series seven, I Saw It First was the fashion partner, while other brands also have tie-ins with the show, with JD Sports providing activewear, Boots donating beauty, skincare, suncare and male grooming products, while there are also hair electricals from Cloud Nine.

For 2022, producers ditched their usual fast-fashion tie-ins in favour of a new deal with eBay, which will see the Islanders sporting “pre-loved” outfits throughout their search for romance.

21. There’s a reason why you don’t see the Islanders smoking anymore


The amount the contestants were seen smoking on screen was the subject of over half of the Ofcom complaints during the 2017 season, with viewers claiming the show was glamourising the habit.

By way of addressing the controversy, bosses decided to introduce a smoking ban in the villa and main garden for the following series, with contestants only allowed to puff away in a designated area outside the front of the villa one at a time.

They are still filmed in case a vital piece of action happens, but they do not have any interaction with the other Islanders while there, and those wanting to smoke must queue on the stairs inside the villa and wait until the person before them has finished.

22. Love Island actually started out in life as a celebrity reality show back in the early 00s


The Love Island we know and love first hit our screens back in 2015, but you might not have realised it was based on a celebrity edition of the show that originally aired more than a decade earlier.

There were many differences to its current incarnation – not least the inclusion of famous faces – as it was hosted on a a beachfront location on a Fujian island, and was hosted by Patrick Kielty and Kelly Brook, airing on the main ITV channel.

The whole concept of “coupling up” and “recoupling” was also only introduced when the show was rebooted.

23. The show has become a hit around the world


Love Island became such a behemoth here in the UK that it has spawned many international editions across the globe.

There has been local editions in the likes of Germany, South Africa, Sweden, Poland and Hungary, while the US and Australian versions have also been shown on ITV2.

Love Island airs Sunday to Friday at 9pm on ITV2 and ITV Hub.

Love Island villa

Love Island Villa 2021


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