Ahead of the finale of Season 8 of Love Island on Bank Holiday Monday, Penny McCormick spills the tea on the series and takes a punt on the winners (and losers) …
Love Island is the OG of dating shows and after seven years of matchmaking, marriages and a few babies, it returned for series eight this summer and has been one of the most successful seasons in its chequered history.
According to statistics, five million viewers have been watching it each evening (it has also racked up 100m online streams), with a record three million tuning into the season opener. The aim: six male and female contestants (reportedly paid approximately €300 per week) are introduced to each other and urged to fall in love. Their journey has been hampered or helped by a series of challenges, a stay in Casa Amor (another villa) and the arrival of 14 “bombshells”.
I’ve been glued; mesmerised as much by the setting, as the semantics. The location for the show is a rustic six-bedroom, two-storey Mallorcan villa, reportedly sold back in March for €3m, and enhanced by an outdoor kitchen/bar area with a fire pit and swimming pool.
These areas are essential to the “flanter”, one of the words renowned etymologist Susie Dent says has been coined this season. Meaning “flirty banter”, of which there has been plenty, other novel phrases used in the lexicon of love include: “snore off” (boring), “grafting” (to work), “the ick” (instant revulsion), and the much used “It is what it is”. Actually, this phrase was coined by American journalist JE Lawrence in 1949, used in 2004 by George W Bush, and first deployed on Love Island by Sherif Lane in 2019, when none of the girls expressed an interest in him. This year, the phrase has been rolled out frequently by contestants.
I’ve also had an education in the alternative meaning of such phrases as “the beauty salon is open” – Casa Amor’s code for the bedroom (manicures, a full set and blow dry all denoting various levels of sexual activity), as well as the contestant’s actual beauty routines each evening. (Extensive and exhausting!)
As for the fashion, contestants have been wearing their own clothes with a wardrobe of preloved pieces provided from eBay. This is a departure from previous years, when clothes were provided by fast fashion company I Saw It First.
Have I noticed any trends? Only the upside-down bikini, popularised by one of my favourite “bombshells” Antigone Buxton – searches for the style have risen 203 per cent. With this style, Buxton has said you get “four bikinis in one” and brands such as Jacquemus, Asos and Abercrombie & Fitch have been quick to capitalise on the mini trend. “It gives the opportunity to show a bit of cheeky underboob,” says Buxton who regularly “flipflopped” her bikinis.
Writing this four days before the final, there are now five couples left in the villa. They are: Londoner Indiyah Polack and Dublin-based biochemist Dami Hope, Welsh paramedic Paige Thorne and English personal trainer Adam Collard, Turkish actor Ekin-Su Cülcülo?lu and Italian entrepreneur Davide Sanclimenti, English model Tashi Ghouri (who is deaf) and Andrew Le Page, an estate agent from Guernsey. Then there’s Gemma Owen (daughter of footballer Michael Owen) and Brighton fishmonger Luca Bish, who introduced himself as “I’m Luca Bish and I sell fish”(seriously).
Yes, the series has definitely ticked the diversity box, and if this season follows other formats, there will be just four couples in the grande finale. I predict that “Damiyah” (Indiyah and Dami) or Paige and Adam will be dumped over the weekend, which will probably see some of the participants’ relatives join in them in the villa.
I’ll take a bet and say that Davide and Ekin-Su will win the show (and the £50,000 prize money), by far the most entertaining of the couples. Davide, in particular, has shown humour and authenticity, while Ekin-Su has brought the drama, and how!
Paddy Power has given the odds as follows: Davide and Ekin-Su as 2/9, Andrew and Tasha 8/1, Adam and Paige 9/1, Luca and Gemma 10/1 and Dami and Indiyah 14/1.
Until a few weeks ago I would have said that Luca and Gemma stood a very good chance of winning – mostly because of Gemma’s forthright character. She’s an international dressage rider and her poise in the saddle is reflected in her calm, confident manner and incredible maturity at only 19.
However, the series has been shaken by accusations of misogynistic bullying against Tasha by Luca and Dami (particularly in the “Snog, Marry, Pie contest). They believed the devotion of her boyfriend Andrew was not reciprocated. To date, OFCOM has received some 5,000 complaints which are being investigated.
Women’s groups have also expressed concern at Luca’s controlling behaviour towards Gemma, as well as the reappearance of Adam Collard (a participant in 2018), who was accused of “gaslighting” Rosie Williams.
I certainly don’t hold out any long term hopes of Gemma and Luca’s relationship – latterly his lack of humour, histrionics and hissy fits may well have effects on his popularity. His Twitter account has been disabled and even musician Nick Cave has given his support to Luca’s family, such is the abuse they have received.
Paige and Adam’s long term relationship prospects are also not great. A red flag – Collard (conveniently?) split up with a former girlfriend with whom he had bought a house, a mere two months before entering the show …
Like them or hate them, the contestants will all be winners, in one way or another. The most popular can generate hundreds of thousands – even millions – in appearance fees and commercial collaborations. Rugby player Jacques O’Neill, pictured, who left the show abruptly because of mental health issues, has racked up over one million followers on Instagram, and is eyeing up lucrative commercial deals – from sports broadcasters to fashion brands. I predict he will become an ambassador for male mental health and surpass the popularity of his “love rival” Adam Collard. (O’Neill briefly dated Paige).
It’s been continually entertaining and for those who will miss this evening escapism, which comes to an end on Monday, August 1, a winter Love Island, filmed in South Africa, will air in January 2023. There’s also news of a spin off series, with a focus on single, middle-aged contestants with “normal bodies”. The provisional title of “Your Mum, My Dad” is already “giving me the ick” … but no doubt I’ll tune in.
Need to Know: The last episode of Love Island will air on Monday, August 1, at 9pm on ITV2. The bumper instalment, presented by Laura Whitmore, will end at 10.35pm. @loveisland