Former Love Island cast members reveal secrets behind the show

‘Most of the time it’s one beverage a night’

Katie O'Malley
Tuesday 16 July 2019 09:50 BST
Love Island 2019: The girls talk to Caroline about love

Love Island 2019 is well underway and continues to have the nation on tenterhooks.

Last month, ITV aired the hotly-anticipated fifth series of the show, welcoming 10 new contestants through the doors of its famous Majorca-based villa.

And while viewers have criticised the show’s of racial bias during the “coupling-up” phase of the first episode, mocked the price of the programme’s personalised water bottle, and accused several contestants of "gaslighting", others are learning this season’s new terminology (“It is what it is” and “bev”) and tweeting about boxing contestant Tommy Fury.

Of course, avid watchers are just as intrigued to find out what happens behind the camera as they are to watch events unfold on screen. Fortunately, several ex islanders have revealed what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling, exposing the secret details the producers don’t want viewers to know.

From clocks showing the wrong time to contestants receiving beauty treatments, here’s all the facts you need to know about the show:

1) Contestants are delivered food every day

Islanders are regularly filmed making coffee and fried eggs in the outdoor kitchen in the morning, but their stay in the Love Island villa is far more luxurious than viewers are led to believe.

According to Love Island 2016 contestant Kady McDermott, islanders’ dinners are cooked for them every night by an external team of cooks.

“We would have food cooked for us at dinner, and producers would come to change our mic batteries,” McDermott told Cosmopolitan.

“That’s why dinner is never filmed or you don’t see anyone eating hot food. The food tasted amazing. They used to give us a dessert after every lunch and every dinner, and the cake was unreal, and we could request food if we wanted."

Chris Williamson, a former contestant on the 2015 series of the show, also revealed that the reason why contestants aren’t filmed eating food is mainly due to technical reasons.

"Have you ever heard anyone eat up close with a microphone around their neck? It sounds like someone walking through mud - it's absolutely disgusting," the ex islander told the BBC.

"There's a canteen on site and a two-way larder where they drop these big pots of food - which might be lasagne or salad or pizza - just normal stuff.

"And then once the people who've deposited the food leave, our side of the door gets opened and we go and get it," he said.

2) Alcohol consumption is limited to two drinks a night

If you’ve ever wondered whether the arguments, tear-filled tantrums, and romantic embraces are alcohol-fuelled on the show, you can rest assured that islanders are relatively sober during filming.

“At night time we weren’t allowed a lot of alcohol,” McDermott told Cosmopolitan.

“During the first four or five days when we didn’t know each other we had alcohol to break the ice, but then after that it was two glasses of wine a night. And we were sure it was watered down as well! I don’t get that at all."

Joe Garratt, Callum Macleod, Michael Griffiths, Sherif Lanre and Anton Danyluk on 'Love Island'
Joe Garratt, Callum Macleod, Michael Griffiths, Sherif Lanre and Anton Danyluk on 'Love Island' (Rex Features)

Montana Brown, who appeared on the 2016 series of the show, explained that producers are “really strict” about the amount of alcohol consumed on the programme, limiting each contestant’s allowance.

“Most of the time it’s one beverage a night,” Brown told The Independent last year.

“They’re really strict about that. At a push it’s two.”

3) Contestants receive beauty treatments off camera

A night in the Love Island villa usually commences with the contestants getting ready in their walk-in wardrobe and bathroom. And while previously islanders have revealed that contestants receive a supply of Superdrug products in the show (the beauty brand previously sponsored the series), several have admitted to having received manicures and haircuts during filming.

Former Love Island contestant Amy Hart told OK! magazine that the women on the fifth series of the show received treatments.

“Sometimes people come in to top up our nails," Amy said.

Williamson told the BBC that while the contestants do receive beauty treatments, they are considered a necessity rather than a luxury in order to feel confident.

"I know girls that go and get their nails done every week, so for a lot of them it was the same for us as going to the gym,” he said.

Yewande Biala is one of 12 contestants of Love Island 2019. (YouTube / Love Island )
Yewande Biala is one of 12 contestants of Love Island 2019. (YouTube / Love Island ) (YouTube/Love Island)

During his series of the show, Williamson claims stylists and barbers entered the villa.

"If the audience has a problem with that, what do they expect to happen - do they want us all to turn into hairy cavemen by week eight?," he said.

Last year, several Twitter users questioned contestant Dani Dyer’s change of hair colour during filming, leading many to believe that she had received a beauty treatment off-camera.

“Has Dani’s hair changed colour? Did I miss something?” tweeted one user.

Another added: All I can think about during this episode is when did Dani get her hair done?”

However, Brown told The Independent that during her time on the show, the female contestants resorted to shaving as producers wouldn't allow them to have professional bikini waxes.

She added that several contestants had attempted to use wax strips to remove their hair themselves but that they "all had bruising" as a result.

4) Contestants pack for eight weeks

If the thought of packing for a spontaneous weekend away has you perspiring, spare a thought for the islanders who are required to pack enough clothing for eight weeks.

“Everyone comes with about 20 bikinis, 20-30 dresses, and obviously you’re exchanging dresses with people, everyone wears each other’s stuff,” Brown told The Independent.

Brown added that the remaining contestants often ask to keep departing islanders clothes for the remainder of filming.

5) They use their phones to text each other

Former islander Tom Powell, who appeared on the 2016 series of the show, once revealed that contestants are allowed to use their mobile phones to text each other.

However, islanders’ time on their phones is limited and they are not allowed to access social media or contact their loved ones.

While they can take selfies and message each other during the show "everything else is blocked,” Powell told new! Magazine.

It is widely believed that contestants are informed of new information pertaining to the villa (new contestants, challenges etc) via text through their mobile phones. However, McDermott revealed that not all communication is as immediate as is suggested.

"We had loads of problems with our phones last year,” she said of the 2016 series in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

“When we’d get a text and someone shouted ‘text’, it would take like five minutes for the message from producers to actually come through. It was a nightmare because it took so long to load, and obviously you don’t see that on the TV.”

The beauty entrepreneur also revealed that contestants often knew when they would be receiving a message from the producers.

“We were really bad at keeping our phones on us – when you’re in a bikini or don’t have any pockets, we just left them lying around,” she explained.

“So when producers gave you your phone and made you keep it on you, you knew you were getting a text.”

6) Producers force islanders to wake up

A summer séjour in the Love Island villa may sound like the dream for some viewers, but for the contestants not every day is a party.

The producers ban islanders from sleeping past 9:30am and wake them up through speakers.


“[Producers will] wake you up by putting the lights on or a voiceover will say ‘Islanders, it’s time to get up’,” Brown told The Independent.

7) Clock are set incorrectly

When you’re sunbathing out in midday heat, it is imperative to know how often to apply your SPF so as to avoid the lobster red-hued burn us Brits know all too well.

However, knowing when to apply your sun cream is a pretty tricky affair for islanders given that they have no concept of the time in the villa.

“You never know what the time is,” Montana told The Independent.

Several contestants have said that they tried to guess the time by looking at where the sun was in the sky.

"If the smoking area was in the shade when we woke up, we knew it was before 7am, so we started figuring out timings," McDermott told Cosmopolitan.


“Surely they can check the time on their phones,” you ask yourself?

Well, apparently contestants can but according to former islander Chris Williamson, any visible clocks are set incorrectly.

"If you were to be driven to a date location, the driver of the car would have his watch on a different time and the clock in the car would be a different time to that,” the 31-year-old said.

8) Most islanders quit their jobs to go on the show

While some contestants go on the programme after finishing university or between jobs, others leave their careers entirely for the opportunity to spend their summer in the villa.

“I know some of the girls who were in Casa Amor and only in it for a week quit their jobs and a week later [had gone home], it’s a massive risk,” Brown told The Independent.

9) Contestants often speak to cameramen

It’s widely believed that on entering the villa, contestants are banned from external contact from the outside world.

And, this is true – to a certain extent.

Last year, ex-islander Adam Collard told Heart FM that “nobody is aware of anything” but McDermott suggested that the cameramen in the garden do have limited interaction with contestants.

Love Island 2019: The girls talk to Caroline about love

The former contestant also said that during her series, there were 68 rotating cameras in and outside the house and two camera operators by the kitchen and the smoking area.

10) Most women are on the pill

The majority of female contestants on the show go on the pill and take packets back to back to avoid having a period when in the villa, according to Brown.

“It would be horrendous,” she said, referencing the possibility of bleeding on the bed sheets and bikinis.

11) Reading materials are banned

The idea of living in a villa in the south of Spain for the summer would be a dream for many of us but it sounds pretty boring for contestants who have been lucky enough to bag a position on the show.

"It sounds so bizarre to say that being in the sunshine in this £10m villa surrounded by good looking guys and girls just getting a tan could get boring, but it really does,” Williamson explained to the BBC.

Books, internet, and televisions are banned on the show.

Former islander Georgia Steel during the 2018 show.
Former islander Georgia Steel during the 2018 show. (Rex Features)

"You have no distractions - it's you and the situations that are going on 24 hours a day. It's a very intense experience,” he added.

This was highlighted in Tuesday night's episode of the show when Tommy Fury tried to find an alternative to a paper and pen to write a love letter to his partner, Molly-Mae Hague, as they are banned.

Fury’s fellow contestant Curtis Pritchard was forced to write a message in eye liner for the boxer to give to his now girlfriend.

Love Island 2019: Tommy asks Molly-Mae to be his girlfriend

12) Challenges are filmed numerous times

Ahead of the show’s challenges, contestants are famously filmed running from the villa to the gardens in slow motion with surprising enthusiasm given the often ridiculing nature of the competitions. Anyone remember last year’s “smash a watermelon with your derriere while dressed as a superhero” challenge?

However, while the islanders may look animated to perform certain tasks, the reality is far from different.

“Most of the time, the challenges are really boring,” McDermott explained.

“You have to run out on the stage and bring loads of energy, but in reality it’s like 4pm, you’re really hot and sometimes it's the last thing you want to be doing. It’s tiring.

“There was like a full squad of cameramen and producers, and it was like a reminder that you were on a TV programme."

13) Certain topics are off limit

Whether it’s sat around the fire pit or on the balcony, contestants are regularly filmed engaging in conversations about their love lives, relationship histories, and confidence issues.

However, avid watchers of the show will already be too aware that there are certain discussions about family, friends, and the show itself between islanders that aren't aired. And, according to Williamson, it’s on purpose.

"You're not allowed to really talk about the outside world that much, obviously you can't talk about brands and things,” he told the BBC.

"There's a tannoy system where they come over like a mother telling off naughty children, reminding you that you're not supposed to be talking about this or that."

Brown concurred, explaining that she and former contestant Camilla Thurlow were once asked to stop talking about their favourite hymns and discuss something related to the show.

“‘That’s not interesting,’ they said,” she told The Independent.

14) Contestants are banned from meeting before the first episode

Despite living in close proximity to each other for a week before filming on the show, contestants are under strict observation to ensure they don’t bump into each other prior to the first episode.

The “lockdown” as it’s referred to among former contestants means islanders “won't have their phone, they'll be with a chaperone who's a runner or researcher from ITV - and they won't be let out of that person's sight”, according to Williamson.

"Because everyone was in quite a close geographic net, it means we had to have different slots at the gym... and then there'd be a half-hour buffer before the next person came in,” he told the BBC.

Anna Vakili and Sherif Lanre on 'Love Island'
Anna Vakili and Sherif Lanre on 'Love Island' (Rex Features)

Ahead of the show, islanders are also placed in flats in different areas of Majorca.

"We wouldn't ever go walking up towards someone else's flat, in case they were going out for coffee," Williamson added.

15) Evicted islanders don’t receive their phone until they’ve filmed ITV's Aftersun

After an islander has been evicted from the show, they are contractually obliged to appear on ITV’s Sunday night follow-up programme Aftersun, in which they discuss their departure from the programme and time in the villa.

In the hours between them leaving Love Island and appearing on Aftersun, their personal mobile phones remain in the possession of Love Island producers so as not to influence ex-islanders’ perceptions of the show from outsiders.

“I thought the whole world must think I’m fat and ugly,” former islander Tyne-Lexy Clarson recently Cosmopolitan following her exit from Love Island. As she waited to fly back to the UK from Spain, Clarson recalled a member of the public shouting abuse at her in the airport, leading the former contestant to believe she was hated by viewers.

“The whole plane home I was thinking, ‘Is this going to be my life now? Are people just going to abuse me for the way that I look?’" she explained.

16) Islanders have been known to leave and re-enter the villa

Spending eight weeks with a group of strangers and striking up a romance would have most people wanting to take a breather from the hubbub of activity in the villa.

And while leaving the villa is a strict “no no” for contestants during the show (the only time islanders are allowed to leave its vicinity is for dates, shopping trips, or when they are kicked off the show), the have been occasions in the past when contestants have broken the rules.

"I walked out [in total on the show] three times,” 2018 contestant Laura Anderson told Cosmopolitan. “I walked out after the Wes pieing. I didn't sleep all night, and went to the Beach Hut, and smoked 20 cigarettes.”

17) Islanders don't get time off

Last month, former islander Kem Cetinay said that contestants during his series were given one day off on a Saturday without their microphones.

"Normally we go to the beach and we just chill out,” he said on This Morning. “There are no microphones.

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He added: "What happens is it gives them a day to clean the whole villa ... It's more a day off from all the intense games and dates, deciding who you like and don't like and flirting with girls of course.”

However, ex islander Amy Hart contradicted Cetinay’s statement after leaving the villa, revealing to OK! magazine: “We never really had days off.

“We’re always being filmed, always mic-ed up.”

Keep-up-to-date with The Independent's Love Island 2019 coverage here.

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