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Love Island’s Caroline Flack on why so many viewers can’t get enough of reality TV show’s sun-kissed singletons

© ITVIslanders, from left: Curtis Pritchard, Amy Hart, Michael Griffiths, Joe Garratt, Yewande Biala, Sherif Lanre, Anton Danyluk, Lucie Donlan, Anna Vakili, Callum Macleod, Amber Gill and Tommy Fury
Islanders, from left: Curtis Pritchard, Amy Hart, Michael Griffiths, Joe Garratt, Yewande Biala, Sherif Lanre, Anton Danyluk, Lucie Donlan, Anna Vakili, Callum Macleod, Amber Gill and Tommy Fury

It’s the island getaway winning record audiences on ITV2 and bagging a BAFTA along the way.

But, as Love Island returns for a new series with a Scot, Anton Danyluk, as part of the line-up, presenter Caroline Flack says there’s no way the reality show is running out of steam.

“Our success has been gradual and I don’t think we’ve reached our peak,” said Caroline, 39.

“We’re upping our game again this year. There is definitely more to come and we haven’t reached the end of our shelf life yet.”

More than 3.6 million viewers tuned in last summer to watch Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham crowned the winners of the show about paired-up love-seekers in a Majorca villa.

That was a huge leap from the original series, in 2015, which averaged just over half a million viewers.

It has become a money-making machine with advertisers and merchandisers desperate to get involved. The Islanders make huge sums from endorsements, personal appearances and their social media channels.

Caroline says she’s clear on the secret of the show’s success.

“We all want to see love,” she said.

“I started falling in love when I was about 17 and hopefully I’ll still be in love when I’m in my 80s.

“The show is relatable because you’ve been there, you are there or you want to be there.

“It’s not just about ages, it’s about the situations.”

Caroline Flack

The length of the show increased from just over five weeks in 2015 to nearly two months last year as everyone from youngsters to grandparents become obsessed with the Islanders.

“There is a buzz when it comes round each time,” said Caroline.

“When we finished last year, it had been a long run and you don’t think you could ever repeat that again.

“But you have a break, a bit of down time and you’re excited to watch it again. You want to watch new people and hear some love stories.”

This year’s line-up has five girls and seven boys, including a scientist, a beauty therapist, a pharmacist, a firefighter and a boxer.

Danyluk, a 24-year-old gym owner from Airdrie, follows in the footsteps of 2018 contestant, Scots cabin crew attendant Laura Anderson. He has already created headlines by admitting to a wandering eye and infidelity in his last relationship.

“I actually got caught cheating for the first time in my life and it changed everything for me,” he said.

“I saw how much it hurt her and what it did to her. So, for me going into Love Island, it’s going to be the biggest test of my life.”

Like previous years the Islanders are uniformly super-slim and toned, despite calls for greater body diversity.

The show’s creative director, Richard Cowles, said: “We want to be as representative as possible, but we also want them to be attracted to one another.

“Also, we’re not saying that is how you’re supposed to look.

“We’re saying here’s a group of people that we want to watch for eight weeks, and we want to watch them fall in love.

“That’s not at the front of our mind, but we do want to be as diverse as possible.”

Programmes such as Great British Bake Off and Line Of Duty were moved to BBC1 after their success grew on BBC2.

But while there has been some speculation about Love Island making a switch to mainstream ITV, Caroline insists ITV2 is the perfect place for the series.

“It’s the show’s natural home. People of all ages watch it, but it’s definitely made for ITV2.”

Scots Love Island hopeful Anton Danyluk

Although it’s summery, light and fun, the darker side of Love Island came to the fore in March when one of the 2017 stars, Mike Thalassitis, took his own life. It came after the death of 2016 islander, Sophie Gradon.

Following the tragedies, ITV bosses announced additional support and counselling for those who suddenly find themselves thrust into the spotlight.

“Of course I welcome the support,” said Caroline. “There always has been people the islanders can talk with.

“But, as the show changes, everything involved with the show has to progress. We need to progress the duty of care and that’s a really positive thing.”

Caroline admits news of Mike’s death came as “a complete shock” and says it’s still a very personal thing to talk about.

She knows just how quickly those involved in reality shows can find themselves talked-about as public figures.

“I used to work on X Factor and it happened on that 10 years ago,” said Caroline. “I work with people who work on these shows and it is a hard thing to contend with when your life is suddenly shoved into the media.”

But she says she sees no end to our reality show fascination.

“We’re nosy as a nation and we love watching people.”

The series will have its usual Scottish flavour with the voice-overs coming from Edinburgh comedian Iain Stirling.

Love Island, Mon, ITV2, 9pm