“As honest as reality TV gets”: What audiences love about Love Island

Love Island S5

Plus: Filming in Spain while the Women’s World Cup was on

Break out your favourite pair of swimmers, because Love Island Australia is returning to Mallorca, Spain, for its fifth season. The new season premieres at 6pm, Monday October 30th, on 9Now

Love Island Australia is produced by ITV Studios Australia for the Nine Network, and Mediaweek caught up with ITV’s creative director, Alex Mavroidakis, ahead of the season launch. 

Alex Mavroidakis

Alex Mavroidakis

This will be the fifth season of Love Island Australia, and whilst some formats that have been running for such a long time can struggle to re-invent themselves, Mavroidakis said that the Love Island format has a secret weapon when it comes to staying fresh. 

“The great thing about Love Island is that the freshness comes from the cast. We can come up with the most ridiculous twists and turns every year, make it more dramatic, add more islanders and mess with them more and more – but the fact of the matter is, it really doesn’t matter what we do to a certain extent. It’s all about the people that we pick, which happens long before we get to Spain.

Any producer will tell you that you live and die on the cast, and I think we’re very much going to live this time. We’ve done a really good job of picking some incredible Australians and people from around the world. It just worked.”

So what do Mavroidakis and the team look for when casting the show? Mavroidakis laughs that “I’ll be honest and say you’ve got to be extremely good-looking to get on Love Island,” but it’s not the only thing they look for. 

“There was one bloke I’m thinking of – and I won’t mention his name – but he walks in the room and he looks like a walking Roman statue. He was chiselled from the gods, the most incredible face, the most incredible body, and he sat down and he just didn’t have it. 

“On a show like Love Island, where we film 24-hour turnaround – it’s one episode a day in Spain, then one episode a day in the edit suite – there’s nowhere to hide. You’ve got to be able to tell a great story, you’ve got to be able to react to dramatic situations, and you’ve got to be able to put your heart on the line. You’ve got to make Australia love you because, at the end of the day, they do choose the winner.

“You’ve got to be mentally robust enough to do it because it is a very full-on experience being filmed 24 hours a day. If you don’t tick all of those boxes, it doesn’t matter whether you look like Kim Kardashian, there’s no point turning up.”

Love Island villa

Love Island villa

Behind the scenes, Mavroidakis said that it wasn’t necessarily all smooth sailing for the production team on season five. 

“It was crazy, because unlike many seasons in the past, it took a long time to settle this year. We were honestly questioning whether we were going to get any love, the couples seemed to chop and change so much. They just would not settle, and so for us it was it was slightly worrying at the start. But love won in the end and there are multiple couples from the series still together, which is fantastic. But it was a worry for a while.”

As well as the couples switching up and the Spanish heat, there was another – very global – distraction that Mavroidakis and the team had to get past.

“We had the Women’s World Cup on at the same time. Spain obviously won the Women’s World Cup, and Matildas and England did really well – the entire crew was made up of Spanish, Australian and English

“When the Women’s World Cup was playing, no one was watching the screens. I had to walk into the control room a few times and remind people they were being paid, and to look forward as opposed to down at their phone. But that resolved itself pretty quickly, Spain won, most people were happy, and we got on with the show.”

With five seasons now under its belt, audiences have proven that they’ll always return for more Love Island – last year, the show made history as the first BVOD program to make it onto the Total TV chart. Mavroidakis was asked what it is that he thinks keeps audiences coming back, and said that it’s a combination of being funny, sexy, and dramatic. 

“We don’t take ourselves very seriously at all, and I think the audience appreciates that. There’s so much going on in the world – war in the Middle East, we’ve got people yelling at each other over the referendum – there’s some serious shit going on. We are absolutely the antithesis of that. We know that we are purely entertainment, we don’t pretend to be a social experiment.

Love Island is as honest as reality TV gets, we don’t have a long time in the dit suite to mould someone into a particular character. We don’t put people in there to be heroes and villains. We put people in there that want love and are funny, and that is how we play this. So I think people keep coming back because the show is funny and funny wins every single time. It’s also sexy, and people love looking at sexy people.”

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