TV review: At heart, Love Island is a conservative programme

(From left) Laura, Dani, Samira, Hayley and Kendall. Picture (C) ITV Plc
Billy Foley

Love Island, ITV 2, nightly at 9pm

It's a smash hit among the millennials, but Love Island is an extremely conservative programme at heart.

Almost 3.5 million viewers tuned in to Monday night's opening episode to watch beautiful people wearing very little.

The tabloids are covering Love Island with the same attention once devoted to Big Brother. Most have special correspondents dedicated to the show and those who emerge as the main characters are guaranteed minor celebrity status, a column in a gossip magazine and a possible television presenting career.

The values of the show - which encourages behaviour your mother wouldn't be proud of – have been much criticised.

But its belief systems, while very open about sex, are far from the liberalism associated with the young.

There are no same-sex couples on Love Island, no transsexuals and women and men are content to be judged by the quality of their beach bodies.

The most used word on episode one was “fit” – which naturally applied to everyone.

There's certainly a kind of equality to it, though. The women arrived in a jeep, wearing high heels and tiny bikinis while the men paraded their six-packs and biceps.

Surely everyone from Essex has already been on television, but Love Island managed to find some new ones, along with Danny Dyer's daughter Dani.

Star couple in the opening episode was Eyal Booker, a 22-year-old model, and Hayley Hughes, 21, also, you guessed it, a model.

Eyal, displaying his sensitive side, said he liked “depth” in a woman and after he had paired off with Hayley, that he didn't like “superficial” girls.

Hayley asked what superficial meant, because “I don't really know, I don't use big words.”

Eyal said they were getting on great.

This probably explains why the best educated of the contestants was rejected. Less tanned and less muscular than the rest of the men, Dr Alex George found himself on the “subs bench” after being rejected by the five girls.

It's harmless, candy-floss TV, but I think I'm too old for it.


Journey In The Danger Zone, Iraq, BBC 2, Sunday at 8pm

Adnan Sarwar is an English Muslim who fought with the British army following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Here he returns to see what has become of Iraq since.

It was the best thing on television this week and is well worth a date with the iPlayer if you missed it.

Sarwar starts his journey at Amedi in the north-east corner of Iraq, close to the borders of Iran, Turkey and Syria.

The view from the ancient Mosul gate in Amedi down to the plains of Iraq below is astounding.

And this is the direction he heads as he makes his way to Baghdad in a three-part series assessing if the country has a future.

In the capital of Kurdistan, he meets the 'Gentlemen of Erbil', a sharply dressed group of young men determined to promote their city.

However, much of the first episode is taken up with an exploration of Mosul, which unlike nearby Erbil, was ruled by ISIS and was not liberated until last year.

Sarwar tours the flattened east of the city, which was bombed into rubble by coalition forces.

Quasi-normal life, however, continues on the west bank including an entrepreneurial soul who has set up a tourist bike tour business.

However, his pain is never far away and the man, who attended university in America, breaks down as he recounts how difficult life was under ISIS.

A Christian soldier believes Iraq's religious mix means it will always be at war, but Sarwar is more hopeful.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: