As the UK slithers slowly back towards normality, we are beginning to look forward to our national traditions once more. These include: sitting in pub gardens and burning our shorts-clad arses on the wooden benches, having rows in shopping centres on the hottest weekend of the year, and, most importantly, losing two months of our lives to a widely beloved television programme about hot people wearing swimwear with difficult looking fastenings.
It was recently announced by ITV that a new season of Love Island would air later this year, after COVID-19 derailed plans for two seasons in 2020. So far, there aren’t many details available other than that (it’s still unclear where the show will take place, as the pandemic might make it impossible for Love Island to film overseas as usual), but it’s safe to say that after a year which managed to be both the most boring and depressing on record, we’ll be welcoming it back with open arms.
Seeing as how the show has been off air for a while, however, we thought that prospective contestants might need a bit of a reminder about how the whole thing works. So we caught up with 2020’s winter winners, Paige Turley and Finlay Tapp – who moved in together in Manchester after the show – to get their take on how future Islanders should approach the UK’s biggest – and most missed – TV programme.
1) IT’S NOT A HOLIDAY
Paige: Be prepared for the lack of sleep! I think we had the idea that you just went on and you're on holiday. You forget that you're making a TV show and everybody's story's got to make sense.
Finn: The lack of sleep comes from just sort of going to sleep late rather than waking up early. I used to watch Love Island religiously, obviously, before I went on there. You see how the big bits happen in the evening time. It's almost like the daytime filming is like setting up for like, the nighttime activities. So like the night's always the longer bit, isn't it? There's so much going on.
2) TELL THE PRODUCERS WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Paige: The producers – they're clever matchmakers aren't they? So when I was going in I'd say "I want tall, dark, handsome" and Cockney, and then they brought Fin in! I mean, you're not Cockney, but I'm Scottish, so you're close to London! When you came in, what did you ask for?
Finn: Someone who would make me very happy. And you made me very happy
Paige: That could have been anybody in there though! What did you describe to the producers?
Finn: Loud, bubbly, energetic?
Paige: Well, we got one out of the three. Loud.
3) CHOOSE A VILLA PARTNER YOU CAN TRUST
Paige: Obviously it's very accelerated. So coupling up with somebody, you're sharing a bed and you're doing all these wild challenges together. So just choose somebody you comfortable with, someone you can have fun with.
Finn: The nature of the show is so like, here, there and everywhere. So I think the trust needs to be there. There's no doubt that when you're in a happy couple, there are going to be speed bumps. And there's going to be dates that boys are wanting to take you on. So I think if you have that trust, it makes it more pleasurable, doesn't it?
Paige: Even some couples who were friends in there, they still had to have that level of comfort.
4) MAKING FRIENDS IS CRUCIAL
Paige: I found that when there were times like they were putting other girls in, or Casa Amor, Shaughna was my rock, and vice versa. It kind of keeps you sane, having somebody going "Relax, stop overthinking it."
Finn: It helps just keep you level headed without thinking the worst.
5) STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF EVEN WHEN THINGS GET UNPREDICTABLE
Finn: Never do anything apart from what you feel is right. Don't ever worry that you're going to get embarrassed or anything like that. Just stick to how you feel, rather than overthinking. I think I can speak for Paige and I – like in Casa Amor. It's always like, “I'm gonna stay single here. But what has she done? Or what has he done?” But you've just gotta stay true to yourself and what will be will be.
Paige: Casa Amor is hard because you've got so used to your experience together, and then you're no longer together and you've also got this added worry of “He could actually be lying in bed, doing challenges, and kissing other girls,” and you're just kind of back here not knowing.
6) CHERISH THE BORING BITS
Finn: The moments that we weren't like, sort of in the gossip or anything, me and Paige would happily just lay on a sunlounger.
Paige: Those were probably the times where we could speak about your family and my family. They never really showed those bits, did they? But they were the times where you would really get to know, your other islanders or each other.
7) BE PREPARED FOR BIG CHANGES, OFTEN
Paige: Even like, when you don't feel threatened as a couple, it still does really shake the house [when something unexpected happens.] Like when you came back from Casa Amor. That was so uncomfortable to say the least.
Finn: It's like, you do quickly become like, almost – I mean, it sounds cringey – but like a family in there. So when you throw other people into the mix…
Paige: I mean, I think at one point, I was 18 of us in that villa? I mean, it was a big villa, but sleeping wise, it was like three beds in the living room – just people everywhere!
8) EXPECT LIFE TO BE DIFFERENT WHEN YOU LEAVE
Finn: It's definitely a shock to the system. Because you come out the exact same person you went in as but you've got, you know, loads of people knowing you.
Paige: I think use other Islanders to kind of lean on. Because you will be the only people who really get it. They'll understand how it feels to come out and have people know you. And Love Island, they've been really, really great with aftercare. Lean on the producers!
Finn: No one quite knows what you're going through, other than people that have already been on the show, or who help make the show. Me and Paige have been very, very lucky in that we both live under the same roof, and we're both living through the exact same experience. So you know, we can talk to each other about that.
Paige: But then you've also got your boys. I've got Shaughna.
Finn: Yeah, exactly. So you build up your own support network. And it's like, it's a weird one because it's almost like a union. You have this respect for anyone that's been on there.
Paige: I thought, being in South Africa, "Oh, it’ll be so warm.” I didn't take any jackets and it was bloody freezing. Just be prepared for everything. Also when we came back to London, I had dresses, shorts, bikinis. But I was in London for three days afterwards [before going home.] I was walking around in like, flip flops. And they had to go and get me like jeans and pants and shoes. So just be prepared for everything. Overpack!