Dani Dyer confirmed it, quietly, on her Instagram stories, after a series of plugs for some sequinned tops from her In The Style range. “It’s been an incredible 6 months, and we will always have a place in our hearts for each other, but sadly we’ve come to the realisation that it’s not meant to be longterm,” she wrote. And then the sign-off: “I hope you’ll all understand.”
With that “all” (oh hell, it’s probably what did them in), Dani recognised that there were more than two people in her relationship with Jack Fincham. There were 4.1 million. And many of them are in mourning today.
People, please do not mock us.
Instead, flashback six months. The sun had shone, uninterrupted, for weeks. England had brought football home to the point where grown men were tenderly singing Atomic Kitten in public spaces. And a holiday romance between a couple of perma-tanned kids from the home counties was morphing into a bona-fide relationship (minus the boning) in front of our ITV2-tuned eyes.
Never mind the £50,000 prize money, which Jack and Dani won, shared and then multiplied with myriad spin-off deals. The real winner – second only to Boohoo.com and its brand ambassadors – was love.
Cynics be gone. Even Dani’s hardman dad believed, as evidenced by his first Instagram outing with Jack, former pen salesman and future son-in-law, to the footie.
(“I wouldn’t want to be Jack,” a male friend messaged me last night, the same friend who got me hooked on ‘Love Island 2018’ in its eventful third week. “Danny Dyer Snr is going to murder him if he has mugged her off.”)
“BUT THEY MET ON TV, NANCY!” cried my heartless editor, when I moped into work this morning to commiserate. “On reality TV!” chirped another colleague.
To which I say: yes. And I choose to believe what they had was real, too.
In a world where we’re as likely to meet our future partner on Tinder, Bumble or Grindr as down the pub or at work, reality TV seems as valid a route to romance as any. My friends are currently campaigning for me to apply for ‘First Dates’, even though I know they’re more excited at the prospect of the viewing party than I am about the chances of a happy-ever-after.
[Read More: Jack And Dani Are Over, But Who Gets To Keep The Dog?]
“This is very sad news,” one of them WhatsApp-ed the group last night about the Jani break-up. “But in a mean way, I feel heartened by it – even seemingly perfect relationships aren’t perfect.”
Dani and Jack seemed so compatible, she went on, that it made her question whether her own relationship was right for her. “It is basically great, but we are not two peas in a pod that way Jack and Dani seemed to be, nor are we as loved up as they were towards the end of the series. The fact they had their own issues is reassuring, in a way.”
But singletons seem to feel differently. “If a relationship that looked that happy can’t survive, what hope do we have?” confided a like-minded soul to me at lunch today. “It leaves me feeling deflated for my own future.”
Okay, well, not all singletons.
Eternally dateless Dr Alex might have gloated about the autumn splits that followed ‘Love Island’, but there are still three happy couples going strong from the show: not just (incredibly) Zara and Adam, but Jani’s fellow finalists Kaz & Josh and Megan & Wes, too.
And for every social media post mourning Jack and Dani’s split, there’s another calling out “Fiat 500 Twitter” for its inability to see beyond what many perceive as the whitewashed blandness of the 2018 series winners to the more interesting and diverse pairings that have outlived them.
The splendid Megan Barton-Hanson (with Wes at her side) has flourished in the aftermath of the show, using her newfound platform to call out “slut-shaming” and share her burgeoning feminism with a new audience – not least Dani Dyer, perhaps, who when asked about the #MeToo movement, admitted that she’d never heard of it.
But still. Give us our moment in the winter sun to memorialise Jack and Dani.
Because with the demise of their relationship, the best thing to happen in this godforsaken, Brexshit-smeared year now passes into holiday memories. I’m talking about the second summer of love. And wasn’t it glorious!
For a while back then, ‘Love Island’ became an issue of such national import that it even took over the Westminster Lobby, with Tom Peck, parliamentary sketch writer for The Independent, putting it best in his final wrap of the show:
Turns out he was right to include that “probably”.