After months of rumours and speculation, we finally know who’ll be stepping into the villa for the fifth series of Love Island on Monday 3rd June. But will they wow us with their charisma, looks and down-to-earth charm or be about as convincing as a cheap fake tan?
I admit I was hugely underwhelmed when the full press pack of contestants landed in my inbox one Monday morning. Still longing for the golden era of Chris and Kem, none of the newbies immediately stood out to me as especially exciting.
I wasn’t the only one initially disappointed, with even the most loyal of fans complaining about “identi-kit” contestants despite previous calls for more body diversity (something producer Richard Cowles has now controversially responded to).
So, my excitement at flying over to Majorca at the crack of dawn to meet the contestants was markedly more muted than I’d expected, and I certainly wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of sitting in a room looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards while beautiful people talked at me (but really, ITV, the press trip was amazing, thanks for having me).
But it turns out meeting them in person is very different to how they come across on paper…
On Tuesday afternoon, each Islander was wheeled in front of us as part of an operation of military precision (each contestant was brought separately so they wouldn’t be spotted by other Islanders, and given a codename when it was time to move them between rooms).
Firstly, they are all completely stunning, almost sickeningly so. Their press pack photos really and truly don’t do any of them justice.
I don’t know what Anton did to mug the photographer off in his press shot, but he is honestly one of the best looking men I have ever had the pleasure of staring at for far too long, despite his overly threaded eyebrows.
When he explained his type was “blonde and blue-eyed” in his thick Scottish brogue, I felt myself embarrassingly and automatically leaning forward, ready to offer myself as tribute despite looking like roadkill.
All of the girls were equally as fanciable. Fresh-faced, giggly and mischievous looking, Lucie exudes girl-next-door charm, if you lived next door to a supermodel.
Anna, dubbed ‘the British Kim Kardashian’ was intimidatingly beautiful; commanding attention with her Jessica Rabbit-esque curves and beseeching green-grey eyes.
But despite being so extraordinarily good looking, any of their accompanying bravado instantly melted away when faced with a pack of journalists, even if we did look like crap.
Anton, who bragged about owning a Porsche alongside his “wandering eye” bit his lip and laughed nervously when asked about whether he’d stay loyal in the villa.
The apparently “outrageous” Sherif hid behind the door and had to be physically called into the room before he even dared to talk to us.
The super sweet and palpably nervous Joe talked at length about his perfect sandwich (no, not that kind) when jokingly asked what filling he’d be should he ever be placed between two slices of bread.
A few of the girls were equally as shy – super sharp scientist Yewande hid behind her hair when quizzed, her reserved manner reminiscent of series three star Camilla Thurlow, whereas Lucie came across far quieter than first expected.
Flight attendant Amy, though, could talk for England; instantly warm and likeable with her easy and open demeanour.
Amber brought lashings of sass and sarcasm (“She’s like Cheryl Cole in her early days,” announced one journalist), while Anna wasn’t afraid to be forthright – announcing that she wouldn’t couple up with a boy “who just wants any vagina” and asking to take the card of a beauty journalist in our round table in the hopes of launching herself a new career as a make-up artist.
But while Anna and Sherif were more open about embracing the lucrative possibilities that their instant Love Island fame will offer them, veteran journalists on the trip all commented on how much more grounded our new set of Islanders seemed compared to last year’s contestants; potentially thanks to Love Island’s rigorous new duty of care policies.
Aircraft engineer Callum fully expects to go back to his job at some point, and so does firefighter Michael.
Yewande, who told us she’d been in education since 16, also intends to pick up her career again when she’s ready, viewing Love Island in the same way many of us would look at a gap year before uni.
Tynson Fury’s boxer brother Tommy, who is more accustomed to the fame game than some of the others, was the most level-headed of the lot. Wise, polite and likeable, without any of the cockiness most of us assumed he’d have, he came across far more mature than most 20 year olds.
It was only Curtis Pritchard who left us feeling cold. Dodging even the most innocuous questions, the ones he did deign to answer were slickly guarded and masked with a hugely insincere enthusiasm, leaving him sounding like a cheesy game show host. He came across as if he thought he was doing us all a massive favour just by being there.
On the surface though, it seems we’ve got a good set of interesting and entertaining Islanders who should make this series far more compelling than last summer’s outing, which put far too much focus on the Jack-and-Dani saga.
But as we’ve become wise enough to know, the true villa villains and heroes are made in the edit suite – Amber’s sass could come across as snark, Amy’s chatty nature could be seen as irritating, Anton’s natural heartbreaker charm as sleazy and fake.
And as for whether I’ve already spotted the winning couple? Only time will tell.
Love Island launches Monday 3rd June on ITV2