In Depth

Is Love Island staged?

Brewing romance between Curtis Pritchard and Maura Higgins has left viewers skeptical

Love Island fans have accused the ITV2 dating show of being “staged” after a particularly turbulent week in the villa.

The 2019 reality TV series has less than three weeks to go before it wraps up, with the finale expected to take place on Sunday 28 July.

The contestants must couple up and win over viewers in the hope of winning the £50,000 prize, but the past week has seen some brutal break-ups and new romances emerging.

One new courtship, between ballroom dancer Curtis Pritchard and model Maura Higgins, has left fans suspicious.

“Too much of what they say and do seems staged or performed,” wrote one on Twitter, while another said: “How staged and scripted is this?”

It is not the first time Love Island has faced such claims, with some former contestants admitting that producers do sometimes direct them on how to behave.

Model Tyla Carr, who appeared on the show in 2017, revealed last year that key scenes are often reshot and contestants were guided to discuss particular topics.

“What viewers don’t see is there is always a producer on site; they don’t live in the villa with us but someone generally comes in every hour to have a chat,” Carr said.

“They tell you what they want you to talk about, and who with. You have to tell the producers on site if you are planning to have an important chat or do something, so they make sure the microphones pick it up and the cameras get it. If you forget, they would call you in and ask you to film it again.”

She claims fellow contestant Olivia Attwood had to dump her Love Island boyfriend Sam Gowland twice that year so that producers could perfect the footage, which was “embarrassing for both of them”.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Carr said producers do not make contestants do anything that has not already happened or anything that they don’t want to do.

“But they would prompt you,” she added. “They may suggest it would be a good idea if you brought something up or discussed something.

“Basically, if you’ve had three separate conversations with someone, they may ask you to have the conversation again all in one go to make it better viewing.”

Kady McDermott, from Love Island 2016, also told Cosmopolitan that contestants had to “film multiple takes during the challenges” and that they were encouraged to talk about each other rather than their lives outside the villa.

“Eighty per cent of the time we weren’t talking about the show - we were talking about our lives, families, holidays - and yet only the twenty per cent that is Love Island related makes the final edit,” she said. “If we knew someone who was famous or anyone name dropped anyone, they would be like, ‘stop talking about people. We can’t air it!’”

Adam Collard and Zara McDermott, who were dumped from the 2018 show, insisted the producers do not create new scenarios for the contestants but try to control how existing storylines are portrayed.

Speaking to Dublin-based music station FM104, Collard said: “They don't stage anything, but it's just they don't want to miss a moment. Sometimes, because we're human, we want to do stuff ourselves. So, if our first kiss was in bed, for example, when it was late at night…”

McDermott continued: “And we had no mics on and you couldn't hear us talking, they'd probably say ‘Can you not do that there? Can you wait until tonight where there's a party and we can make it look really pretty and make it a special moment for you?’”

It comes after their fellow 2018 islander Georgia Steel admitted that a kiss she shared with islander Jack Fowler, which caused extensive drama in the villa, was filmed twice. Eagle-eyed viewers had noticed continuity mistakes in the background of the footage when the kiss was shown from varying angles.

A spokesman for the show has said: “It is absolutely untrue to suggest Love Island is fake. The opinions they have and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders themselves.

“As we have said since series one, Love Island is a combination of reality and produced elements. Any produced elements are designed to allow viewers to understand what the Islanders are feeling and to help move narrative threads on.”

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