Meet Iain Stirling – the voice of Love Island

The new host of CelebAbility talks to RadioTimes.com about why he'd never sign up for the show and how an IKEA sofa is a symbol of success

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Many of Love Island‘s most die-hard fans know exactly what narrator Iain Stirling looks like, but for some the face of the Scottish stand-up comic is still an enigma.

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Well, that’s all about to change.

Iain is being let out of the gaffer-taped Portakabin (we’ll explain later…) to front his brand new celebrity panel show CelebAbility.

In a brief window where he wasn’t tied to his microphone, we got Iain on the phone from Mallorca to talk all things Love Island, why an IKEA sofa is so exciting and the one reason he’d never sign up to the show…

You’ve described your new show CelebAbility as “Eggheads meets Celebrity Juice”…

“It’s pretty mad as far as shows go. So basically you’ve got five celebs against five members of the public taking on a number of challenges based on the celebrity’s special skill. The word special is in massive inverted commas…

“We’ve had Coronation Street cast members eating lots of hot sauce, Olivia Buckland from last year’s Love Island with an elastic band tied around her face as she tries to put damp teabags in her mouth to get them into cups. Lots of people getting electrocuted when they do things wrong – that kind of silly stuff, I suppose!”

With comparisons to Celebrity Juice, do you feel a pressure to be as successful? 

“In a way it’s the opposite. There’s no way you’re going to be as big as Celebrity Juice. There’s just no way. But this is the first grown-up show where I’m not just the voiceover. It’s nerve-racking – very nerve-racking – because you don’t get much more grown-up than going out in that slot on ITV2. And I’m not talking on an intellectual level.” 

Meanwhile Love Island is getting bigger and better every year. Have you noticed any big changes from your perspective?

“The microphone’s got better. I don’t know anything about technology but 100% there was a techy guy in my room yesterday, said some words I don’t understand and he went ‘that’s an expensive microphone’. I cannot tell any difference. They’ve not made the black spit guard any more expensive looking, anyway!” 

What about where you record the show. Is that any more glamorous?

“That is an MDF room with foam gaffer tape around it. I’m in a Portakabin and one eighth of that Portakabin is big enough for me to stand up in. I have got an IKEA sofa in the corner now, though, so that’s good. I never had one last year… I’m massive now!

“Otherwise it’s exactly the same. I work with Mark [Bush-Cowley, who thought up the original Love Island series] and it’s amazing. We go in at 2pm, watch the episode and then just record it.”

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Where do you stay while you’re in Mallorca filming? Is it as impressive as the villa?

“I’m in a hotel – it’s a proper holiday resort so you’ve got evening entertainment like Robbie Williams tribute acts and all that sort of stuff, lots of people drinking blue WKD and cocktails. I love it – this is every holiday I’ve ever been on as a kid!”

Do you often get recognised for the show, especially by British people on holiday out there?

“Not really. I think last year was the year everyone realised I wasn’t a 40-year-old father of three, which is what everyone thought. But the only place I ever get recognised because of my voice – and it happens 100% of the time – whenever I’m in Topman buying clothes in Oxford Street! The person behind the till always recognises me. I’m now skint because I go in there to buy clothes all the time just to get my fragile ego the much-needed boost it needs. The other thing is I’ve never been in the UK while Love Island’s on television so I’ve never seen what happens.”

Will you be making an appearance on Love Island: Aftersun?

“I’m not actually! It films in London so I won’t be on Aftersun. I might come along to the final but there is part of me that wonders if it’d be weird – series one I went on screen a bit but I don’t know if it’s a bit strange? I don’t know if it’s better in a way. 

“It’s a weird thing to say but if I was a viewer I don’t think I’d want to see me. When I used to watch Big Brother when I was younger back in the day I don’t know if I’d have wanted to see him [Marcus Bentley] walking around.” 

Who is your favourite couple at the moment?

“I’ve not really got a favourite as it’s such early days. Kem and Amber have done a little bit of to and fro but neither of them have had that much adversity to go through yet. There’s no couple that I’m necessarily like ‘they’re interesting’. There’s a few people I think that they could be really interesting but there’s no couple where I think ‘they’re good’.”

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What about Dom and Jess?

“On a very superficial level, they’re probably the two best looking people in there. They do feel quite alpha – they’re probably a bit older as well!”

If you were younger and in an alternate universe, would you sign up to Love Island?

“No. I’ve not really got the body for it or anything like that…”

Would it not be good to see different body shapes on the show?

“It would be absolutely lovely to see that but I don’t want that one different body to be mine. I don’t want to be known for the rest of my life as the fat one from Love Island…”

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CelebAbility airs at 10pm on Thursday June 15 on ITV2. Love Island is on every night on ITV2 at 9pm and Iain Stirling performs YOU OK HUN? X at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the Pleasance Above from August 2 to 27. Find out more here.