Love Island is the nation’s summer time obsession, but it wasn’t always the reality TV juggernaut we’ve come to know.


Itself a revamp of the much maligned Celebrity Love Island of the early 00s (a show that was quickly rechristened Love Island due to its unrecognisable line-up), series one debuted to a mostly muted response back in 2015.

Dubbed “a charmless beast” of a show by one TV critic, it wasn’t until Love Island found its feet in series two (arguably the best series yet) that ratings really took off.

While some things will never change (Caroline Flack sashaying in slow motion is an unfortunate mainstay), certain elements of the now familiar cracking-on-and-mugging-off format have been tweaked and polished over the years.

Here's a look back at what's changed since series one of Love Island...

1. It was a different villa

Love Island villa series 1 & 2

While we’re used to seeing the action take place in a villa in Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, the early runs of Love Island had an entirely different backdrop.

Islanders were getting pied off in the gorgeous Ses Salines in the south-east of Mallorca, in a villa privately owned by a French businessman who had kitted it out to replicate a rustic property he owned in France.

Producers at ITV added a gym, an open-air kitchen, a jacuzzi and – one thing that hasn't changed – the infamous fire-pit for re-couplings.

Instead of being in a single row, the beds were arranged so that they all faced one another, ensuring any under-the-covers action could be seen by all (remember Terry and Emma-Jane? We can't forget, hard as we try.)

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What you may remember more positively was that breath-taking pool. Designed to look like the shoreline, it was the largest private pool in the Balearics.

And all the action of the first two series of Love Island (bar the actual dates, of course) took place right here, with Casa Amor just being a glint in an ITV exec’s eye.

2. The boys picked the girls in the first coupling of the series

While latter series of Love Island have seen the girls step forward for whichever boys Caroline hauled in, the first run put the power in the lads’ hands, with the men entering the villa first and picking the women they wanted to couple up with.

The format changed in favour of the girls in series two and has stayed like that since – it seems only good manners to let ladies pick first, really.

3. The show had a cringey Celebrity Love Island throwback

While Love Island is now a far bigger beast than its celebrity predecessor, series one was keen on maintaining a link with its former incarnation.

Calum Best, Love Island series 1 (ITV screenshot)

About halfway through the show’s six week run, original Love Islander Calum Best, winner of the 2005 version, turned up in the villa shouting, “Love Island… what’s up!”

He then proceeded to take the boys out for a night in Magaluf to test whether they could be faithful.

It’s fair to say eventual winner Jess Hayes spoke for the nation when she said, “We’re in the villa, going about our own business, and who rocks up? Calum f***ing Best.”

It was the first in a series of celebrity cameos, which also included TOWIE’s Mark Wright turning up to DJ for islander Lauren Richardson’s birthday party. Thankfully, he didn’t stay too long.

4. There were only five episodes a week

The first series of Love Island was relatively brief, crowning Jess and partner Max Morley the winning couple after just six weeks. Season four was extended to eight weeks, and there are rumours that the 2019 run could be even longer.

More to the point though, series one only featured four 'proper' episodes each week, with Friday and Sunday being nights off from the drama and Saturday a ‘weekly Hot List’ of unseen excerpts (which is still the case now).

Now, Friday night broadcasts tend to be the most exciting in the villa, with dumpings, re-couplings and new Islanders tending to drop at the end of the week.

And Sunday brings us a new episode followed by Love Island: Aftersun, which enriches our lives with behind-the-scenes gossip from the Beach Hut.

5. The series ended with a mock wedding ceremony

Probably the strangest thing about the first series of Love Island was that each of the finalists got 'married' in a surreal mock-wedding ceremony.

Seriously, they went all out – with the girls going shopping for actual wedding dresses and bouquets of flowers.

It was all a bit much for series one’s Jon Clarke, who got on one knee and actually proposed to his partner Hannah Elizabeth. In true Love Island style, the pair split shortly after the show ended.

The ceremony was dialled right down in later series, being replaced with a more cutesy prom night (though the often nauseating vow-reading sequence has stayed intact).


Love Island returns to ITV2 this summer