‘Love Island’ will return to TV screens across Ireland and the UK next week. A sure sign that summer is well and truly underway, producers have just revealed the new cast ahead of the season debut.
While last year’s winter edition of the popular dating show managed to go off without a hitch – it finished just before lockdown hit – it’s been almost two years since the last Love Island summer season aired. Which means that anticipation for the new season is at an all-time high.
Offering viewers just the type of escapism we need right now, we may not be able to jet off on hols but watching a group of swimsuit-clad singletons vie for one another’s attention is almost as good. Yes, I know… chewing gum for the eyes, but sometimes a hefty dose of reality TV is just what the doctor ordered.
Here’s what we know about the new season so far.
A whole new batch of islanders are ready to find love this year, with producers yesterday revealing just some of the faces who will be entering the villa next week. Previously hinting that they would be accepting LGBTQI+ applications for this season, it turns out that there was little weight to this rumour and show bosses have since commented that while they want to be more inclusive, opening the competition up to a wider pool would prove difficult to the logistics of the show.
This year’s cast does include its first-ever contestant with a disability though – PE teacher and England cricketer Hugo Hammond. Born with a club foot (a condition in which a newborn’s foot/feet appear to turn inward at the ankle), he’s had several operations to correct since, admitting that he’s never let it hold him back. “You can only really tell when I walk barefoot. I’ve got a really short Achilles heel. I walk slightly on my tiptoes,” he said.
Hugo’s fellow castmates include Sharon Gaffka, a Civil servant and former Miss International UK, Kaz Kamwi, an Essex-based fashion blogger and Brad McClelland, a labourer who has been single for two years, lives with his nan and has never been on a date.
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New duty of care guidelines
Clearly listening to calls to provide better supports to those who enter the villa, the Love Island team announced new duty of care protocols this year. Publishing details of the welfare plans in place for contestants before, during and after filming, it includes comprehensive psychological support, training on the impacts of social media and handling potential negativity, financial management training, a proactive aftercare package as well as guidance and advice on taking on management after the show ends.
A show unfortunately already clouded in sadness, the importance of establishing proper duty of care protocols was made all the more evident in the wake of Caroline Flack’s tragic death.
Laura Whitmore will return
Brought on as Flack’s replacement on the first winter edition of the show, Laura Whitmore has been confirmed as the host for this year’s season once again. A very in-demand gig, the Bray native was up against many a big name for the role after Caroline stepped down – including Maya Jama and Longford’s own Maura Higgins. Eventually beating out the competition to land the job, the Whitmore definitely had her work cut out for her but many commended her on how she handled the pressure.
Saying that she think’s “we’re all ready for some love”, the presenter shared a quick message to fans on social media last night writing, “Ahhhhhh! So excited to watch the new islanders. Hope you enjoy talking about them and following their journey and just a reminder to treat them with love, compassion and respect when they leave the show and go back to real life. Caroline I hope we do you proud.”
Set to return alongside her husband, comedian Iain Stirling, he’ll provide the famous voiceover commentary that the show has come to be known for.
The new season of Love Island will premiere on Virgin Media One next Monday, June 28 at 9pm.
Feature image via @hugo_hammond_