LOVE Island may not return this summer due to the pandemic, ITV’s top boss has revealed.
Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive of the channel, admitted producers have struggled to make the sun-kissed show, which has filmed in Spain and South Africa, work amid Covid restrictions.
Asked if Love Island would be filming in the UK this summer, as revealed by HOAR at the weekend, she said: “I genuinely don’t know.
“We will want to put Love Island on air because it’s been off air for a little while. We didn’t do it last summer.
“We are looking at all our options at the moment. The pandemic makes it hard.”
Love Island has not been air since its first – and so far only – winter edition concluded in February last year.
An insider told HOAR that sites in Devon, Cornwall and Wales – where I’m a Celebrity relocated to – have been put forward for a 2021 series.
The source said: “Cornwall has been optioned, as well as Torquay, the Isles of Scilly and even Barry Island, where Gavin and Stacey was filmed.
“ITV bosses are also worried about a fan backlash against the show if contestants are allowed to go away claiming work reasons but the rest of the country is still stuck at home.
“Of course, there are obvious weather restrictions with a UK location — and viewers will see a lot less skin.”
It has also been suggested that bosses could borrow the upcoming US version’s Hawaii-based Covid-secure set.
Despite the concerns, ITV have reopened Love Island’s casting website – inviting potential villa stars to apply for the seventh series.
Speaking on The Media Show on BBC Sounds, Carolyn, 59, also addressed the impact of the suicides of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon, 32, and Mike Thalassitis, 26, suggesting that online trolls were more to blame for the tragedies than ITV’s duty of care protocols.
She said: “A lot of people in production knew them personally. They were devastated by it. It’s a horrible thing to happen.
“The procedures, the processes, and the duty of care we have is world class. I know we have strength in that.
“It’s not because ITV wasn’t doing that well in the past. It’s simply because social media has genuinely intensified what happens on a show… it’s a big shift.
“We’ve done a lot of work on casting, what happens in the show but also on the aftercare. We’ve been forensic about it, particular through the lens of social media and what they will experience when they come out of the show.”
She also revealed that former Love Island contestants including Dr Alex George, 30, have been called in to tell new contestants their trolling horror stories.
She said: “The recent phenomena is the social media echo chamber, trolling, the scrutiny and intensity people get.
“What we have to do is ensure people go in fully prepared with their eyes open. We get a lot of previous contestants to explain what exactly it’s going to be like. Dr Alex, for instance, will go on and say this is what I experienced.
“Other people will say ‘I was trolled because I had X, Y, Z’. You have to fully prepare and you have to make sure they really want to go in, consenting to this as adults and really want to do it.”
She added: “A lot of people have fantastic experiences on these shows. Peoples’ lives are complex. It’s not always just about the show, it’s about what they are experiencing in their whole life.”