Love Island slayed Big Brother in the ratings battle last year, with the ITV2 show’s final reaching 2.86 million consolidated viewers compared to Channel 5’s 1.04 million.
So what is it exactly that gives Love Island the edge? The show’s producers put it down to “flexibility” and the fact that the series doesn’t stick to a “rigorous format”.
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“I don’t want to have a dig at Big Brother because we know [Channel] 5 are getting beaten every summer now,” said head of ITV2 Paul Mortimer, “but one of the freedoms of Love Island is that they don’t have a rigorous format, whereby [for Big Brother] it’s Friday night therefore it’s eviction night.
“That puts pressure on you and encumbers you in a way that you don’t actually need. We’ll have an eviction on a Tuesday if we think it’s right. Caroline [Flack] will get her passport out and fly out if there’s a reason for her to be here tomorrow. And none of us know that, because none of us quite know where the contestants are going to take us.”
Managing director at ITV Studios Entertainment, Angela Jain, added that “flexibility is critical to the show’s success” because it enables the producers to change the series' course of events according to how viewers are reacting.
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In the 2017 series, for example, Love Island fans could vote on the app to send “Muggy” Mike Thalassitis back into the villa, and Stormzy caused chaos when his tweet about Chris Hughes and Olivia Attwood’s relationship – "Chris you're too good for her mate” – was read out to the islanders.
“There’s no other show like it,” Jain continued. “Responding to social media, responding to viewers and literally that becomes part of the narrative… that makes the show really exciting to make.”
She added: “It makes it a bareknuckle ride but it’s really exciting.”
Another flexibility to the show is the way that the final edit can start and end at any time of day. “It’s completely chronological,” said Jain, “but it doesn’t begin in the morning and finish at the end of the day. We can sometimes decide to finish a show in the middle of the night because we know the narrative will pick up the following day.
"That lack of rigidity, the flexibility, the fact that we are chronological but we can adapt to what’s happening, really opens up stories.”
Love Island begins Monday 4th June on ITV2