After the success of the fourth series, Love Island was instantly renewed for another round of cracking on and mugging off in Majorca.
With the show promising eight weeks of sunbathing, sexy singletons and a shot at true love (or at least a reasonable simulation of it) it’s little wonder that just a week after series four ended, 25,000 people had already applied for the 2019 edition of the show.
But how can you make yourself stand out to the casting producers as they wade through a sea of bikini clad models and buff builders to choose another winning set of Islanders?
We spoke to some former contestants – series two’s Scott Thomas, series three stars Amber Davies and Theo Campbell, and series four’s Laura Anderson – about how they bagged themselves a place on the hottest show on TV…
Applying for Love Island
One route to the villa is the classic, straight-up application – but don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the online forms, the process is rigorous in order to weed out the faint-hearted and half-arsed.
As well as answering the boring bread-and-butter visa and work questions, applicants are expected to send a minute-long video explaining why they’d be a good fit for the show, along with a series of filter-free selfies.
It was her mini-epic 60-second documentary of her life in Dubai that saw Laura Anderson attract the attention of casting directors after the former air hostess decided to apply to the show five days before the closing date and almost entirely on a whim.
Love Island 2018: Laura Anderson (ITV)
“I just used my best assets, I had to really think about what makes me different because I knew they must want individuals,” the 30-year-old tells RadioTimes.com.
“My job was interesting, and also that I’m Scottish but lived in Dubai. So I just used that in my video initially.
“Although I had a good life in Dubai, I felt I wasn’t moving forward and I knew it wasn’t forever. I’m so glad I took the leap of faith and just applied for the show, it’s definitely paid off.”
Although this route worked for Laura, it’s no secret that casting producers are also constantly on the prowl for fresh meat, checking social media and sliding into people’s DMs to try to entice them into the villa…
Series three winner Amber Davies caught the eye of a casting director who messaged her on Instagram – with her scantily clad selfies and healthy amount of followers, Amber was ideal villa fodder.
“I was always a massive fan of the show since series one, so I was thrilled when someone messaged me asking if I would be interested in having an interview,” she says. “I didn’t even think twice about it.”
Fellow series three alumnus Theo Campbell was also scouted through social media, receiving two friend requests from casting directors on Facebook.
“They added me and they asked if I wanted to apply for Love Island,” he explains. “I’d never seen it before, but I thought… why not? I had nothing else to do.”
This kind of scouting has been a feature of Love Island for several series now; Scott Thomas, of series two fame, was known to producers as he had already fostered a profile thanks to his brothers, Coronation Street and Emmerdale stars Ryan and Adam Thomas.
“I was a little bit dubious about doing it but at the same time, I saw it as a new challenge,” he tells us.
“I didn’t know the format of the show or anything like that. To be fair, I got approached by their team to do it. He was quite adamant he wanted me to do it and really believed in me. I didn’t really apply, they just reached out to me. I had a little bit of a profile already, anyway.”
How to nail an audition for Love Island
1. Have a few good stories ready
Whether they’re spotted on the street or on the Gram, each hopeful is invited to ITV HQ in London to interview for their place in the villa.
The Islanders we spoke to described being interviewed by two producers who worked on the show, who ask questions about the sort of person you are, what you get up to in your spare time and, most importantly, about your love life.
Scott said it’s best to have a few wilder tales in mind to make the casting directors sit up and take notice.
“It’s a dead relaxed and chilled process,” he says. “They ask you about some of the crazier things you’ve done.
“The casting directors are definitely looking for people who will go in there and wear their heart on their sleeve.”
But he also warned that Love Island producers are turned off by those who seem a little too keen to sign up.
“The less that you want it, the more real producers would know you are,” Scott says. “They don’t want someone who will go in there and really try and sell themselves.”
2. Don’t take it too seriously
Or in Theo’s case, don’t be afraid to absolutely rip the piss out of the whole thing.
“I just flipped it round and ended up interviewing the girls interviewing me,” he says. “I convinced them both that they’d been cheated on.
“They asked me what I’d do if I’d won the money. I said pay off all my parking tickets. If there was any money left over, I’d put them aside for more parking tickets. I was only messing with them, but I guess I made an impression there.
“I just had a laugh and was myself. I had no real intention of going on the show at the time.”
3. Keep it real
“Be yourself” was the piece of advice each Islander was most keen to give us when we spoke to them. Despite part of the fun of Love Island being the chance to compare new contestants with those from previous series (Laura was likened to series three’s Olivia Attwood, while Kendall was considered a dead ringer for series two star Kady McDermott), Laura warns against mimicking former Islanders.
Laura and Olivia – Love Island (ITV)
“I think you just have to be genuine because the camera never lies,” she says. “You can’t plan for whether you’re liked or not.”
Amber agrees. “You can tell when someone has a bit about them. You can’t fake that.”
4. Be honest about why you’re going on the show
Amber reckons that a genuine desire for love is what will get you through the villa doors – the show is called Love Island, after all.
“Go on there to find love not fame,” she insists. “Go on Shipwrecked if you want to find fame. Or Celebs Go Dating, or something. Love Island needs to purely be about finding love.”
Kem and Amber win Love Island (ITV)
However, Laura argues that whatever your motivation it may be better to show your cards before entering the villa – be honest if you’re actually after the fame and platform that Love Island can provide you with.
“I actually learned it’s not necessarily a bad thing to say you have ulterior motives going on the show,” she explains. “A lot of the contestants admitted that in the villa. But the crux of the show is about finding love and in there, you really can’t help it. It’s so romantic and everyone is dead sexy.”
5. Really think about it before saying yes
Whether you want to play it cool or not, all our Islanders agree that you have to be clear in your head that Love Island is something you really want to do, as it will dramatically change your life no matter what the outcome.
“Think about it before you go for it,” she says. “It’s a massive change to your life. I was offered a part in Hairspray and I really, really had to think about what I wanted.
“But I believe life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I had the support of my family behind me. They said if it all goes wrong that they’re always there for me, and it helped knowing that.”
Amber on Love Island (ITV)
With the second series arguably being Love Island’s “break-out” moment, Scott was stunned at the level of fame the show brought him when he left the villa.
“You’ve got to be mentally strong to be on that show, and you’ve got to be mentally prepared for what happens when you leave,” he warns. “It’s not for the faint-hearted.
“Our series blew up, and the producers were learning alongside us about what to do. Make sure you really know what you’re coming out to.”
Love Island recently faced criticism following the suicide of former contestant Mike Thalassitis, less than a year after series two Islander Sophie Gradon apparently took her own life, with many noting the limits of the show’s aftercare process.
ITV released a lengthy statement outlining updates to their aftercare, which will now take a more “proactive” approach to the psychological welfare of those who have appeared on the show, offering therapy to all of them, rather than only those who request it, as well as training around managing their finances and supervising social media accounts.
However, ITV boss Carolyn McCall is keen to point out that making “a direct link between what happened to Mike and Love Island… would be an extremely tenuous thing”, and none of the Islanders we spoke to could fault the care of the producers during their time on the show, with Amber describing some of them as becoming “friends for life.”
Laura adds, “Everyone I met from start to finish was such a personality in themselves which helped bring out my own. They were so professional and so, so caring.
“They looked after us like we were their kids, and still do to be honest.”
Love Island Christmas Reunion (ITV)
So with just mere months left until the new hopefuls jet off to Spain for a summer of love, what sort of people do our former Islanders want to see in the villa this time around?
“This series, we need a few people that are a bit wilder,” says Theo. “Not loads, just a couple. We need people who aren’t afraid to talk up a bit and not be afraid to disturb the balance. Like me.”