The Greatest 'Love Island' Contestants of All Time

Before a new batch of Islanders attempt to win our hearts, let's look back on the legends who've paved the way.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
Emma Garland
London, GB
Nana Baah
London, GB
The Greatest 'Love Island' Contestants of All Time
Screenshots via Love Island on YouTube

This article is part of Live, Laugh, Love Island, a series gearing up to Love Island’s long awaited summer 2021 return.

There are islanders and there are Islanders. By which I mean: there are your Casa Amor two-night huns who might as well have just come for a little mini-break with the girlies, never to be seen on TV again, and then there are your eight-week warriors, your agents of chaos, your nation’s sweethearts, and, let’s just say it: your Ovies.


It may seem like you just turn up in a bikini and complain for two months, but there is an art to being a Love Island contestant. It’s a certain je ne sais quoi that all the best reality stars have – something unspoken that makes them totally compelling, even if all they’re doing is sitting on something called a “daybed”, drinking out of a water bottle with their name on it and talking to someone they fancy about the state of their relationship two days after they initially met them. It’s different for everyone: some are funny, some are drama queens, others are just so insultingly sexy that you feel some sort of ombudsman needs to be called.

There are some Islanders who have clearly earned Greatest Islander Ever status, because they’ve stayed in our hearts and minds long after they vanished from our screens. Here’s an ode to some of the all time best.  


An all timer for two reasons: 1) she has the word “Scouse” in all caps in her Insta bio, and 2) on Love Island: What Happened Next? she revealed that having booked in a caesarean for her child’s birth, she got a blow dry beforehand and the entire thing was completed in 30 minutes. 


The Only Solo Winner of Love Island, and one of the best to ever do it to boot. There are few Love Island contestants who become genuinely beloved by the public, but Amber was one of them, owing to her grace in the face of a man screaming the word “chaldish” whenever she went near him, and her friendship with Ovie, one of the great platonic Love Island relationships.


Since leaving the villa, Amber has continued to be the definition of a legend, endorsing Labour in the 2019 general election and marching for causes she cares about. If there were to be a Soundest Islander award, Amber would probably win it. 


I recently had a disagreement with some family members who said that people on reality TV are famous for nothing at all. It’s simply not true: there are very few people who possess the specific watchability that makes them great reality stars. Often they just have a very specific glint in their eyes – an ability to be totally magnetic even when they’re just having a cig and sighing. Olivia Attwood is one of those people. 

Making the list on the strength of being the person responsible for the popularisation of the term “dicksand”, Olivia entered as one of the original series three islanders, bringing with her a decent helping of pure chaos – a highly important element in the alchemy of a successful Love Island villa. A one woman case for the show bringing back the smokers’ bench, and a participant in what may well be the best Love Island argument of all time (“Sit back down.” “I’m sat.”) with her villa partner Chris Hughes, Olivia is, for my money, the funniest Islander to ever walk through the villa’s storied doors, and a born reality star.


After leaving Love Island, she became a cast member on TOWIE, though she’s now the captain of her own ship, the ITVBe show Olivia Meets Her Match. A true maven of the reality form, and a Love Island great.


Ovie is unlike any Islander we’ve ever seen before. First off, at six foot eight, he is basically a giant, which is honestly enough for him to end up on this or any list. He has the energy of a beloved Day One Islander, so it’s surprising that he actually entered 26 days in and made it into the villa (thanks to Anna V) and finished in third place.

Not only is he incomprehensibly good looking, he is potentially the nicest man in the world. His friendship with Amber was wholesome and he barely reacted when Jordan tried to get with India while they were coupled up. Since leaving the villa, his whole vibe has been about self-love and confidence. Very cute.


Curtis Love Island

Screenshot via Love Island on YouTube

The Love Island villa is governed by precarious forces, and not all Islanders are greats for the same reason. Some are important to the eco-system because, for example, they broke up with their “half-girlfriend” by telling her that they don’t want to cuddle her when they wake up because they like to be the person who makes everyone coffee in the mornings. They are important because their contribution to the Sexy Dancing Challenge is to provoke a deluge of memes comparing them to the main lemur from Madagascar. They are important, therefore, because they contain a specific lightning-in-a-bottle energy – that of the one and only Curtis Pritchard.  


Whatever your opinion of him, you cannot deny that Curtis made for truly jaw-dropping television, and for that we uplift him. Even if he did call all the women “young ladies”.


If you’re going to include Curtis, you’ve got to include Amy, whose “I was coming back here to tell you I loved you” is one of the most quotable lines in Love Island history. Amy did the very difficult thing of leaving the villa after a heartbreak, and handled the decision like a pro. A legend, who now spends her time bigging up workplace unionisation while still serving you a lovely blow dry.  


Niall’s time in the villa was brief but sweet. He became a fan favourite for his Harry Potter tattoos, boyish charm – which sat somewhere between an amateur footballer and an anime side-kick – and presumably also for having the kind of eyes that you, or at least I, would do international crimes for.

Sadly, Niall left the villa after nine days, and it’s only recently that he’s begun to talk more openly about the circumstances surrounding his departure – mostly by making a series of good humoured TikToks dunking on reality TV and the British media, and exploring his personal recovery from psychosis. An ambassador for the National Autistic Society and good craic. We salute. 


Maura Love Island

Screenshot via Love Island on YouTube

Longford’s own Samantha Jones, Maura Higgins barely took two steps inside the villa before being catapulted into the Love Island canon of intensely horny women under 5’5”.


While she follows in a lineage of chaos agents deployed on week two to stir the pot (see also: Megan Barton-Hanson), Maura was very much her own beast. To be honest, she’s probably had the most lawless Love Island experience out of any contestant on any series ever. She came, she screamed about shagging, she slithered upon Tommy Fury in the dead of night, coupled up with Curtis in a turn of events I seem to have repressed, and then she left.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: as much as we have to remember that Love Island contestants are real people and therefore refrain from bullying them on Twitter, we also have to remember that they’re edited to be characters. And we need characters like Maura – in the villa, as in life – to be the mouthpiece for those among us who see a large topless lad in the distance and can’t help but say, aloud, to ourselves: “The tings I would do to that man.”


Ant and Dec, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, the Cock Destroyers: Britain loves a double act, and Chris and Kem had one of the most compelling on-screen friendships in history. Even in a stand-out series that kickstarted a global fascination with the franchise, a not insignificant amount of it was carried on the dolphin-smooth backs of Chris and Kem.

I think I speak for everyone when I say I can take or (little bit, aha) leave their short-lived rap career, but I could have watched them share a shower, do each other’s hair and talk about their feelings using the extended himbo code of “hummus, carrots and breadsticks” for years. 



One of the most important elements of reality TV is drama, and Anna Vakili was the queen of dramatics. Although she made some questionable choices (i.e. ditching Ovie to get back with Jordan), she is the reason Ovie made it to the Main Villa, plus she was part of an adorable girl gang with Amber and Yewande. She was also central to one of the most explosive arguments in series five of Love Island, after Jordan tried to crack on with India days after asking Anna to be his girlfriend.

Picture this: a woman who is Britain’s answer to the Kardashians in a billowing kimono, with glossed lips, shoving a pink acrylic into a bewildered man’s face and yelling “TWO DAYS” at him. It could have been a scene from outside any Slug & Lettuce in the UK. Anna, thank you for your services in the field of chaos. 


From the moment she walked into the Villa and said “Hi, guys!” with a little wave, Megan was destined to become one of history’s most iconic Islanders. VICE are no strangers to the allure of MBH – she of course has her very own sex and dating column here. If anyone can tell us how to date, it is the woman who broke up someone else’s relationship with a simple nibble on her finger.

Also important to note here that, last year, Scott Disick watched Love Island and sent Megan a DM to tell her off for saying that Eyal (who is *deep breath* the boyfriend of Delilah Belle Hamlin, the sister of Scott’s rumoured girlfriend Amelia Gray Hamlin, whose mum is Lisa Rinna from Real Housewives) is “not exactly Jim Carrey”, and being the reason he was dumped from the island. Her impact.