Why I don’t want a ‘Winter Love Island’

Love Island is brilliant, BAFTA winning television – but you can have too much of a good thing

Love Island Winter 2020 line-up (ITV)

After five series, the Love Island machine is showing no signs of slowing down – with the latest instalment the biggest yet.

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The 2019 offering has already smashed its own records, becoming the most-watched series, debuting with a consolidated 5.9 million viewers committed to watching beautiful people crack on in the Spanish sun and continuing from strength to strength.

The latest series has prompted nationwide debate and intrigue over issues like the Why-Did-Sherif-Leave? saga and Amy’s welfare after Casa Amor as well as facing ‘fix’ accusations in the wake of Jordan‘s apparent utterly random attraction to India one day after he asked Anna to be his girlfriend.

But with all publicity being good publicity, it seems only logical for ITV to bring in a ‘Winter Love Island’ to sustain us through the bleaker months.

“Winter Love Island makes sense as fans adore the drama and love triangles,” an insider told The Sun, adding “everyone wants to enjoy a bit of sun on screens in the cold winter months.”

Yet despite Love Island’s huge popularity and its potential to be an (even bigger) money-making machine, I’m just going to come out and say it – Winter Love Island is a terrible idea.

Love Island Elma Maura ©ITV

Don’t get me wrong, I love Love Island. For all its flaws (its lack of diversity and the controversy around mental health care are just the tip of a very large iceberg) it is slickly produced, superb television, hinging around our own voyeuristic fascination with watching relationships blossom and crumble (aided by a few gratuitous bikini shots, of course).

Love Island is not just a dating show, it’s a national event; think of it as the Fifa World Cup of reality shows, or the Influencer Olympics. It’s an event we can look forward to, and can all invest in for a certain amount of time. But if it was on all year round, its appeal would become less novel. Some of the show’s most talked-about moments become so because they only happen once a year. Should the familiar beats be rehashed in a winter spin-off, the national conversation around the programme would dwindle. The show’s trademark twists would become predictable, expected, dull.

An additional series of Love Island would see the programme become fatigued, with fans quickly losing their dedication for being in for 9 PM on the dot every evening. Investing every night for eight weeks of summer is a commitment enough, even with the ability to catch up on the ITV Hub. I could argue eight weeks itself is too long for Love Island, with the last series feeling bloated and overlong compared to its shorter predecessor. A whole extra portion of Love Island in the winter for us to feast on would be like force-feeding us a fudge cake – too much of a good thing will eventually leave us feeling sick.

And it seems ITV has a short memory when it comes to launching a winter edition of Love Island, with their first attempt having been canned after just one series in 2018.

Survival of the Fittest

The short-lived Survival of the Fittest (which briefly featured Dani Dyer before she dislocated her shoulder) faltered under the intense pressure to match Love Island’s success, failing to capture the nation’s imagination in quite the same way. The tired ‘battle of the sexes’ format saw us switch off in our droves, leaving just 0.3 million remaining for the show’s final week.

It may have taken a few years, but ITV finally cracked the formula for a winning reality show – take some good looking contestants and a snarky narrator, stick them in a villa which thrives off them coupling up, and watch the fireworks over the stifling summer.

It’s not to say we shouldn’t have a new reality show for the winter, but my advice to ITV is not to try and fix something that isn’t broken. Instead, bring us something fresh and intriguing for the winter slump – and leave Love Island well out of it.

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Love Island launches Sunday 12th January.