ENTERTAINMENT
10/01/2020 16:44 GMT | Updated 25/06/2021 15:27 BST

Love Island's Most Controversial On-Screen Moments

The show certainly hasn't all been sunshine and shenanigans.

In Love Island’s six years on air, we’ve seen hook-ups, “Do Bits Society” meetings, weird and wonderful challenges and, of course, plenty of burgeoning romances. 

But the show hasn’t been without its controversies, either.

With a new series upon us, here’s a closer look at all incidents we saw unfold on screen that caused a stir...

Continuity errors

ITV

Throughout the show’s fourth series, viewers picked up on a number of continuity errors, which many believed pointed to the fact scenes were constructed by producers.

One such example saw a glass belonging to Laura Anderson move to different positions during a chat with Jack Fowler, while another saw Georgia Steel’s false nails sudden disappear.

After both of these moments, ITV insisted the incidents were simply down to the way the show was edited, and denied speculation the show was fake.

Staged scenes

ITV

However, after these initial continuity errors, producers were then caught out having filmed a scene during a double date between Megan Barton Hanson, Wes Nelson, Jack Fowler and Georgia Steel twice.

Whether Georgia and Jack had intentionally kissed had been the subject of intense debate both in the villa and among fans, and bosses seemingly settled things once and for all by using VAR analysis on Aftersun.

However, an eagle-eyed fan spotted that two shots from the dates proved the moment was reshot.

While there was quite clear proof of trickery at play, ITV declined to comment at the time, while 557 viewers contacted Ofcom after the kiss due to the subsequent treatment of Jack’s then-partner, Laura Anderson.

Smoking

ITV

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 one at a time elsewhere in the grounds.

Unwanted advances

ITV2

Ofcom received over 700 complaints in 2019 after Maura Higgins made a series of advances towards Tommy Fury. 

In an attempt to convince him to join her in the bedroom, Maura had asked Tommy if she could kiss him. But when the boxer said no, she leaned over him and planted her lips on his cheek as he turned away.

The watchdog later ruled the incident didn’t breach TV’s “generally accepted standards”.

“While we recognise that many viewers disapproved of a contestant’s behaviour in this episode, we took into account the context in which it occurred, including the nature of Maura and Tommy’s relationship, before and after,” a spokesperson said at the time.

Swearing

Rex/Shutterstock/ITV

An episode of the second series in 2016 drew particular amount of criticism over the amount of bad language that was broadcast.

The show in question contained nearly 100 profanities, including 77 utterances of “fuck” and 20 uses of the word “shit”.

Emotional distress

ITV

Love Island bosses faced a huge backlash when they decided to meddle with the steadiest couple in the villa, Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, in 2018.

After the male contestants were packed off to Casa Amor, they decided to introduce Jack’s ex-girlfriend and send Dani footage of his reaction to her arrival.

With Dani unable to contact Jack to discuss what had happened, she broke down in tears and faced an emotional three-day wait to be reunited with him.

The moment attracted over 2,500 Ofcom complaints accusing bosses of emotional distress, but the TV watchdog later cleared the show of any wrongdoing.

The show faced similar controversy in 2020, when Paige Turley was led to believe Finn Tapp had strayed during his stay in Casa Amor. 

ITV

During a game where Islanders had to guess the missing name in headlines about the show, bosses used one which read: “Casa Amor causes Callum, Finn and Nas’ heads to turn on tonight’s Love Island.” 

Finn had, in fact, remained completely faithful to Paige during the twist, and Ofcom received over 350 complaints about the matter. 

Gaslighting

ITV

Adam Collard’s treatment of Rosie Williams was thrown into question during the 2018 series, as he was accused by some of gaslighting.

The lothario got on the wrong side of viewers when he ditched Rosie for newcomer Zara McDermott in full view of the other contestants, without warning his then-partner what he planned to do.

When she confronted him, Adam the accused his ex of being “arsey” and overreacting.

Some complained to Ofcom saying he was being emotionally manipulative, while Women’s Aid issued a statement claiming his behaviour represented a red flag that women should be on the look-out for in their own relationships.

After leaving the villa, he apologised for his actions, writing on Instagram: “I never intended to upset anybody along the way at any time, and I hope that I have and can show people that in upcoming weeks.”

A similar gaslighting row erupted during the fifth series over Joe Garratt’s treatment of partner Lucie Donlan. 

ITV

The catering company owner came in for criticism from viewers and women’s charity campaigners, after he told Lucie he was uncomfortable about her “strange” and “disrespectful” friendship with Tommy Fury

It was then revealed TV watchdog Ofcom had received over 600 complaints about Lucie’s treatment at the hands of Joe and some of the female Islanders.

After leaving the villa, Joe defended himself from accusations of gaslighting, telling The Sun: “I am gutted that it has been perceived in that way because it wasn’t like that at all.

“I always had Lucie’s best interests at heart and I promise you I would do everything and anything to help her because she had a hard time in there and didn’t get on with the girls. I was trying to help her and make her experience as amazing as possible. I thought I did right.”

Slut-shaming

ITV

Zara Holland was controversially stripped of her Miss GB title by pageant bosses, after she and Alex Bowen had sex in the hideaway, who claimed she was not a “positive role model” and “did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title” because of her actions.

After producers made the call to inform her own the news, viewers saw the effect the decision had on an emotional Zara, who then began to regret her night with Alex.

As a backlash against pageant bosses began, even former Love Island host Caroline Flack spoke out against their decision, tweeting: “Feel even more sorry for Zara now she’s been de-crowned. She’s a very sweet girl. What even is ‘Miss GB’? Are we living in the dark ages?”

Unacceptable behaviour

ITV

Arguably Love Island’s most explosive moment ever came back in the second series when new bombshell Malia Arkianarrived in the villa.  

Once pleasantries were out of the way, a huge row erupted between Maila and Kady McDermott, after the latter accidentally spilled some of her drink on the former.

Accusing her of doing it deliberately, a heated argument then broke out culminating in Malia “shoving” her fellow contestant.

After only an hour in the villa, Malia was swiftly removed for her behaviour. 

Sexism

ITV

An unlikely row broke out in 2018, following a task that saw the male Islanders dress as sexy firefighters in a bid to impress the female contestants.

The London Fire Brigade accused the show of sexism and peddling “offensive clichés”, penning an open letter to producers.

Steve Apter, Deputy Commissioner and the Brigade’s Director of Safety and Assurance, said: “I am extremely disappointed that the producers thought it was acceptable to conform to outdated stereotypes and repeatedly use the word ‘Fireman’.

“Firefighting is a job for both men and women and it’s ridiculous that 35 years after the first female firefighter joined London Fire Brigade, that people still refer to the job as fireman.

“While we understand that the challenges on television programmes like Love Island are just for fun, we want to shake off these outdated stereotypes and language choices so more women consider firefighting as a career.”

Unexplained exits

PA Entertainment

There was a sudden exit during the first week of the 2019 series when it was announced villa favourite Sherif Lanre was leaving by mutual agreement after breaking a rule.

While speculation over the reason for his exit grew online, bosses decided not to give any more details in his exit episode. 

Instead, narrator Iain Stirling made a fleeting mention to his departure half-way through the show, before life in the villa carried on as if nothing had happened, but the handling of the situation drew swathes of criticism online.

But in a tell-all interview, Sherif later claimed he was pulled aside by producers after “accidentally” kicking a female Islander in the groin and making a joke about it being a “c**t-punt”.

Love Island returns on Monday 28 June at 9pm on ITV2 and ITV Hub.