Love Island boss defends lack of body diversity: 'We want people to be attracted to each other'

Creative director Richard Cowles made the comments at a recent press conference 

Sarah Young
Thursday 30 May 2019 10:01 BST
Love island unveils contestants for it's fifth series

ITV bosses have said the reason Love Island lacks body diversity is because they want the contestants “to be attracted to one another”.

The reality TV series has been severely criticised in previous years for not casting contestants with a range of body types and, when this year’s Islanders were unveiled on Monday night, fans of the show continued to be disappointed by the 2019 line-up.

The group of toned contestants led to an outpouring of frustration on social media, with viewers and former stars of the show expressing concerns at the lack of physcial representation that is set to appear on the nation’s screens for the next eight weeks.

Addressing the topic at a press conference in Spain, Richard Cowles, creative director of ITV Studios Entertainment, suggested the reason Love Island tends to feature one physique is because non-slim people might be deemed less attractive by contestants.

“I think we try to be as representative and diverse as possible,” Cowles said.

“It has to come back first and foremost – it's an entertainment show and it's about people wanting to watch people we've got on screen and then reacting and falling in love with one another.

“Yes we want to be as representative as possible but we also we want them to be attracted to one another.”

The Love Island boss continued by explaining that the show isn’t encouraging people to aspire to a certain body image but instead selects contestants based on who they think the public will want to watch for two months.

“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,” Cowles said.

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

The comments come just days after ex-contestants of the show Alexandra Cane and Malin Andersson both expressed their disappointment over the 2019 line-up.

Reacting to the 2019 cast photos, last year’s contestant Cane tweeted: “Where the curvy girls at?” while Love Island 2016 star Andersson, added: “And I thought they would have some diversity. Meh.”

It wasn’t just ex-contestants that were left confused over this year’s cast with their thoughts echoed by viewers across Twitter.

In response to previous complaints regarding the topic, a spokesperson from ITV2 said: “When casting for Love Island, we always strive to reflect the age, experiences and diversity of our audience and this year is no exception with a cross section of different personalities and backgrounds in the villa.”

The reality series has also come under intense scrutiny in recent months after two of its former contestants, Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, died, prompting producers to introduce a raft of changes to the show’s aftercare processes.

While many called for the show to be removed from the air completely, a debate that was reignited when ITV decided to cancel The Jeremy Kyle Show earlier this month, the bosses have admitted they did not consider the possibility that Love Island wouldn’t return.

When asked if there was ever a consideration axe the show, ITV Studios Entertainment’s managing director Angela Jain said at the press conference: “No. Our duty of care has always been really robust as we’ve reflected in the statement, it’s an ongoing process.

“We engaged with [mental health specialist Dr Paul Litchfield] well before Christmas, and it was just what we do in terms of being responsible programme makers.

“Those procedures will evolve as the show changes as well. It’s a continuous process.”

Changes to Love Island’s processes include new financial and social media training for the Islanders, as well as a more specific aftercare plan, which will see them have to attend a minimum of eight therapy sessions after the show has ended.

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Love Island returns to ITV2 on Monday June 3 at 9pm.

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