Love Island makers say LGBT contestants bring ‘logistical difficulties’

The makers of TV’s Love Island have said that there have been “logistical difficulties” with plans to include LGBT contestants.

In an interview with the Radio Times, ITV commissioner Amanda Stavri addressed rumours that the production team were looking to bring in contestants of different sexualities, saying: “It goes without saying that we want to encourage greater inclusivity and diversity.”

However, Stavri outlined current issues she said ITV was facing in adapting the series. “In terms of gay Islanders, I think the main challenge is regarding the format of Love Island,” she said. “There’s a sort of logistical difficulty, because although Islanders don’t have to be 100% straight, the format must sort of give [them] an equal choice when coupling up.”

“With our dating shows, such as The Cabins, there is much more sexual diversity. The formats don’t have as much restrictions as Love Island.”

Last month, executive producer Richard Cowles told the BBC that bringing in LGBT contestants was “not impossible and it is not something that we shy away from … but there is a logistical element which makes it difficult”.

The producers’ comments come after rumours that ITV was actively casting LGBT contestants for the Mallorca-set series. The show has previously hosted one same-sex couple in Katie Salmon and Sophie Gradon, who appeared on the 2016 series. During a talk at the Cambridge Union last month, Megan Barton-Hanson – who is bisexual and appeared on the 2018 series – said the programme needed a “whole gay season” to avoid tokenism.

Love Island is scheduled to return to ITV2 later this month, its first series since the Covid pandemic began. Last year, a possible series was shelved owing to safety concerns, and a mooted move to the UK ruled out.

“What signal might it be sending out if we’re doing a show where everyone is crammed together, slavering over each other, while the rest of world has been told not to go near anyone in the park?,” said Kevin Lygo, ITV’s managing director for media and entertainment.

Despite questions around the ethics of the series – with former host Caroline Flack the fourth person associated with Love Island to have ended her life – the franchise remains hugely popular. Stavri said ITV had received more applications from would-be contestants than ever.


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