In the United Kingdom, there’s only been one thing on the nation’s mind in recent months: the reality TV craze that is Love Island.

Having just wrapped up its third series – leaving many viewers with a gaping hole in their daily routine – Love Island‘s format is simple: a group of young, attractive singles are put together in an exotic villa, and sparks fly. But despite its straightforward premise, Love Island has enjoyed incredible success, raking in 2.43 million viewers at its peak, breaking ITV2’s viewing figures and garnering celebrity fans such as Stormzy and Alan Carr. The question is: how has Love Island become such a nationwide phenomenon?

Previous series

This year’s incarnation of Love Island is the current run’s third, and the show’s fifth run overall, and over this time it’s built up a steady fanbase. The 2016 series in particular was where the show began to gain traction, with 1.35 million people tuning into the final, with the show’s stars, such as Nathan Massey and Cara Dehoyde, gaining hundreds of thousands of social media followers. It showed the early signs of becoming a national phenomenon, but still bubbled somewhat under this, with a cult following among young adult viewers. Previous Islanders have tended to bag themselves magazine and brand deals, which only helped boost their profile, so it’s no surprise this traction carried over into the third series.

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Last year’s winners, Nathan and Cara. (C) ITV

Celebrity backing

One crucial factor that’s greatly boosted the profile of Love Island this year is the famous faces that have admitted they’re fans. From the aforementioned rapper Stormzy, who even had a cameo appearance on the show, to former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who admitted he would rather watch the show than check out his fellow Glastonbury performers’ sets, to grime artist AJ Tracey, who wants to release a track with this year’s winner Kem, countless celebrities have revealed their adoration of the show. This has only helped introduce Love Island to even more people – if that hadn’t heard of it last year, there’s no chance people could avoid it now.

Controversy

Following 2016’s series, where the biggest debacle was former Miss Great Britain Zara Holland losing her title after sexual activity in the villa, the drama certainly ramped up this year. The biggest rumour was that former Islanders Mike Thalassitis and Jessica Shears got intimate outside the villa, while Jess’ partner Dom Lever was still on the show. Although both Mike and Jess denied it, the story was all over the tabloids and set social media alight. On top of this, the show gained a high profile for the constant scenes showing smoking and sexual activity – but there’s no such thing as bad press, and it’s only helped introduce more people to the show.

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(C) ITV

The contestants

This is arguably the biggest reason: simply put, the public fell in love with some of the Islanders. From the banter and freestyle rapping that encapsulated the bromance between Kem Cetinay and Chris Hughes that swept the nation – with many thinking they were deserving of the £50,000 prize – to the unlucky-in-love mishaps of Camilla Thurlow, it was impossible not to get attached to some of this year’s Islanders. Not all were as popular – some have faced serious flack, and even death threats, on social media –  but many have captured the nation’s hearts, with viewers tuning in just to catch up on the newfound stars they couldn’t live without.

Clearly, it’s no surprise Love Island became such a nationwide phenomenon, and it’ll be no doubt missed. With calls from fans for a winter edition, the Love Island blues may not last as long as many initially thought – and based on how well this series did, we wouldn’t be surprised if it gripped the nation all over again.

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