The Love Island contestants will be settling into the villa ahead of ITV2’s brand new series today. So, because I’m really kind of caring, I felt it was only right to fly out to Mallorca to get the low-down on any changes to their digs. Ahem…
There’s some clever new tweaks as it turns out. Production learned a lot from last year’s first series of the new-look series and so they had a better idea of what they wanted to do this time around.
The villa is exactly the same one, leant out once again by its French owner who modelled it on another of his properties in his home country. He’s done alright out of being turfed out for the summer. He’s got that outdoor kitchen (although they’ll get rid of it if he doesn’t want it) and they’ve even done a bit of landscaping for him. Handy.
While some changes are purely for aesthetics, others are a bit more calculating than that – ie. making the ‘break-up bench’ bigger so that even more awkward conversations will take place. And if they islanders are in any doubt about why they’re in there, look out for themes of love, romance, deceit, betrayal, money all over the walls…
1. The ‘break-up bench’ is bigger
Producers were surprised by the areas that the contestants were drawn to last year, including the bench they’ve now dubbed ‘the break-up bench’. It’s where Josh and Naomi spent a zillion hours trying to confirm they had both had enough of each other.
It’s bigger for one thing. “There’s enough room on there to decide if they want to sit close together or really far apart from each other,” a producer teased. “But if they sit there, you tend to know a break-up is happening.”
The outdoor beds – much to their surprise – were mainly used for ‘plotting’, so they’re very much back in attendance. Everyone wants some backstabbing and scheming, right?
2. There’s an outdoor gym
Producers didn’t bat an eyelid when I pointed out this might as well have a sign above it that says ‘flex for the cameras. Go on, flex for the cameras’. That’s exactly what it’s all about. Well, we didn’t tune in to learn about the history of the periodic table did we? Plus the islanders can use it if they need to make a point to someone they like the look of: basically look how muscly and gorgeous I am…
3. Cupid is a recurring motif as is love, money, deceit, betrayal…
If you’re in any doubt about what Love Island is all about, it’s literally written on the walls. Motifs of cupid are spread far and wide around the villa to remind the contestants they’re in there for love. But then there’s also references to betrayal, deceit and (gasp) the prize money. I mean, I don’t know about you but I thought this show was only about true and ever-lasting love and Cinderella-esque tales…
4. The kitchen, smoking area and outdoor dining table are all bigger
Islanders going off to have secret hook ups or bitching sessions is one thing, but the producers want the islanders shoved together as much as possible, too. Many egos in one place makes for some explosive rows. As such many of the areas they congregated in are bigger, including the smoking area, the kitchen and the dining table.
5. The pool hasn’t been touched
Commissioning Editor Amanda Stavri had no desire to change anything about the huge pool (the biggest privately owned in the Balearic Islands) because even its size alone caused extra drama last year. “I always liked it when there was a big row around the pool and they’d storm off but it’s so damn big it would take them ten minutes!”
6. The contestants got too wise to the format last year and producers aren’t having it this time
There’s a multitude of reasons the fixed Thursday live show has been ditched – it means producers aren’t tied to building storylines up to that show, they can be more reactive to events etc – but there’s something else: the contestants got too wise to it. “The islanders sort of took it upon themselves to prepare for eviction night with their behaviour and tactics they played,” Stavri explained. “But also, apparently, the girls would be in makeup from about 2pm in the afternoon right through to the live show…”
“So if we could get rid of that rigid structure, we can just be a bit more reactive to what’s going on in the villa and ultimately it means there can be more surprises, more twists and turns.”
7. There’s only one secret room – and it has a brand new ‘private’ terrace attached
Last year the villa boasted two secret rooms, which were used for both private dates and a bit of hanky-panky. This year, there’s just the one. It’s decked out in so much shiny gold material you’d be forgiven for thinking the person who chose the Quality Street wrappers came up with the design. But the new twist is that it boasts an outdoor terrace. It’s got an outdoor bed (hint hint) and will certainly feel separate from the rest of the villa. Although, the production team made it clear they’re hoping the rest of the islanders will get wise to the fact that if they stand near a certain wall around the pool they’ll be able to shout things over the wall and interrupt any budding romance.
8. The ‘Pod’
The Pod doesn’t look any different to last year. It was used for things like calls from home and speed dating new islanders last year. But what I learned is the secret is in the walls. They can be changed to whatever colour/design production so please. There were hints the lie detector test may return with the team saying it would be easy, for example, to make the room look very clinical for those tests.
9. Caroline will enter the villa more
Producers are being careful not to be too exact on what plans are this year. As with the first series the party line is ‘genuinely anything can happen’. So Caroline Flack nipping in and out of the villa and mixing with the contestants more on their ‘own turf’ is certainly on the table. Flack herself admitted she’d quite like to sleep in there one night. Watch this space.
10. There’s more white and flashes of colour around the pool for a ‘mediterranean’ feel
As well as the bamboo effect, there’s splashes of colour and lots more big sections of clean white panels around the pool. It’s not drastically different, but it’s all to give the place a more ‘mediterranean’ feel I’m told.
11. The make-up area has had a hilarious freshen up
OK, so they might not want the contestants spending all day doing their hair etc, but the make-up area has had a re-vamp. Hilariously they’ve put words meant to compliment those looking in the mirror on the walls – ‘fierce’ and ‘banging’ – but it just sounds slightly worse when read together from within the Love Island villa. Coincidence? Me thinks not…
Love Island returns Monday at 9:00pm on ITV2