Love Island

Sunday, July 9, 2006 by

Humility exists. ITV1 don’t take their public for the suckers they may well be, and have decided to drop the word “Celebrity” from the return of Love Island. Their big guns reality show is back to declare war on Big Brother and to sit stubbornly in the primetime schedule after the first mildly successful run.

Now, we live in a modern, broad-minded open world in which us modern, broad-minded and open folk have our various interests, hobbies and pastimes to keep amused and … oh, bugger it: In short, if I want to watch two people I don’t know engaging in intercourse, I don’t have to look very far, and you, gentle reader, don’t either. If you want to or not is totally up to you, as is your choice whether or not to settle down to enjoy Love Island. And yet I plead, avoid Love Island like herpes. Because, you see, at least with pornography in general you can give the participants a back story of your own choice, a diverse and enlightening set of traits, a sense of morale and purpose, goals, aims. That sort of old school jive.

As it happens, I watched Love Island with my mother (her choice, and, yes, I berated her for it) and I have to admit I felt a sustained touch of discomfort as the outstandingly creepy Chris Brosnan (adopted son of Pierce), with a head too small for the span of his shoulders, circled, vulture-like around a gaggle of females, each of them with their breasts driven forward into the moist tropical air. Even my dear mother was sharp to realise that not only was this sequence an excruciating display of tragic ego massage, it was also the bearer of somewhat darker undertones.

Each Love Island male was asked to choose a “partner” for the show, until only a very irritated and frighteningly upset Sophie Anderton was left to canoe her way across a lagoon all by herself. When she eventually arrived at the compound, she burst out in tears upon the discovering that she had to sleep by the door. Luckily, with his Irish gentlemanly manner, ex-Boyzone Shane offered to trade with, and thereby give up his bed … argh! What am I doing?!

You see such business and debate is utterly pointless. If you want to experience the delight of a barely post-adolescent soap star proudly anticipating the thought of “finding true love” and then “getting it away”, you’ll tune in.

One can’t help but conclude this is a television show (costing upwards of £20 million) which has come about after a table of executives held fort with hundreds of hopeful advertisers, drinking late into the afternoon, not writing or making creative choices, but hoping, praying, two marginally known individuals would have sex on the “people’s channel”. And chances are, even if that happens, they won’t show it anyway.

While presenters Fearne Cotton and Patrick Kielty certainly enjoy better chemistry than Paddy and Kelly Brook, they’re still unsatisfying. Kielty can certainly read an autocue, but suffers from simply not being particularly funny or memorable. Meanwhile, Cotton’s boundless enthusiasm and occasional hint of smuttiness is so commercially fulfilling, it reveals she surely can’t care at all.

The idents, the music, the editing don’t hide the show behind any doors either; all are tacky and brash. The television equivalent of when a quaint Blackpool B&B lavishly decorates a dining room above its own level. Something perfectly inoffensive and charming is suddenly hammy, over-expectant and pretentious. Oh no wait, Love Island was never charming or engrossing, or worth going back to, it was always tacky and offensive. Not standard offensive of course (they always edit it out, remember?), but offensive enough to those who waste their time watching it.

Crass, dull, pointless, charmless, without merit – a programme that defines the range of soulless crap we’re expected to sit down to. The worst show of the year. So why do I feel like turning it back on?


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