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Missed Love Island's first ep? Here's a play-by-play of what went down

Love Island 2023 is here! Here's what went down in the first ep...

The very first episode of winter Love Island 2023 had it all—a swanky new villa, Maya in, not one, not two, but three fire outfits, and a hot new islander finding himself in three different couples in the space of half an hour.

So if you missed the show or just want to recap on everything that went down, our essential guide brings you all the key moments and important info that you need to know from the launch episode.

We've even included pics...

Key points:

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First and foremost...

What time is Love Island on tonight?

Love Island will be kicking off this evening (Monday 16 January 2023) and 9pm GMT. It is likely to last about an hour and a half and finish around 10.35pm GMT. If you miss it, you can also catch it an hour later on +1 or on demand after the show's finished. More about where to watch it coming later...

During the hour and a half long episode, we will see the first 10 Love Island contestants for 2023 winter series arrive at the spectacular Love Island villa in South Africa.

Throughout the episode, we will be introduced to each new contestant and learn a little more about each of them, while also seeing shiny new host Maya Jama take up the helm for her first ever Love Island series.

And in the spirit of bring you all the key information first, probably the most important question of all...

Where to watch Love Island UK

UK viewers with Freeview and Sky subscriptions can catch Love Island live on ITV2 (with a TV license) and ITV2+1.

You can also watch Love Island online on ITVX, both live and on-demand, along with all the other Love Island UK seasons. ITVX is free and only requires users to create and account and sign in with their email and passwords.

Anyone watching from abroad—whether you're away on vacation or just an international fan—can follow our guide on how to watch Love Island UK from anywhere in the world to ensure that you don't miss a moment!

Any true Love Island fan will know the commitment of keeping up with the show, so exactly how much of your time will you need to dedicate to this new installment?

How long does Love Island last? 

Originally, each Love Island series aired every day (bar Saturdays) for between six to seven weeks. However, Love Island 2022 was extended to eight weeks—so we could see this new series lasting up until mid March!

There's still no official word on how long this series will last, however, it's always useful to keep an eye on the timing of the famous challenges—like the movie night challenge and the heart rate challenge—as these can always give us an idea of how far through the series we are. And of course, the usually much-anticipated Casa Amor is always a key indicator too.

Each episode of the series usually lasts for around an hour and finishes up around 10pm GMT—but if something particularly dramatic happens, or there's a recoupling, the episode can be extended until 10.15 or 10.30pm.

So far, it's unclear whether winter Love Island will follow suit!

What happens in the first Love Island episode?

The first episode of Love Island typically starts with two of the contestants arriving at the villa, followed by the remaining three boys or girls. They chat over a bottle of bubbly before they're then joined by Love Island's host—formerly Laura Whitmore, who in this series will be replaced by Maya Jama—who then ushers in each of the next five contestants for the first coupling up of the show. This year the boys are arriving first, so we will see each of them step forward for the girl they fancy most and if there's more than one interested party, the girl selects which boy she wants to couple up with.

After all five couples are selected, a bombshell then enters the villa to stir things up and is given the option to recouple with one of the boys—leaving a girl single. 

For each season though, the order swaps, which is why we're seeing the boys enter the villa first and step forward for the girl they fancy the most, as last year saw the girls enter first and it was the other way round.

2022's public vote for starting couples

That being said, Love Island 2022 did change things up slightly. Instead of the islanders getting to choose, Producers introduced a public vote which selected the starting couples ahead of the show. To date though, the only Love Island couple still together from the vote is Tasha and Andrew, the rest recoupled during the show.

So far, it's unclear if Love Island season nine will continue with this method or return to the ol' stepping forward routine.

Get your first snippet of drama with the clip of tonight's launch show...

Love Island First Look is here!

The first Love Island First Look of 2023 is here! The official account has shared a snippet of tonight's launch episode, with a video montage of the boys arriving in the South African villa before new host Maya Jama joins them for a chat about what they're looking for in the villa.

We then see the five girls arriving for the first coupling up of this series, before the group share a toast to celebrate their arrival in the villa.

It looks like there might be some drama already on the way in the first episode though, as the video features a caption reading "there's a twist on day one"—and the islanders' reactions at the end of the clip just says it all...

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Who is hosting Love Island 2023?

Maya Jama is the new Love Island host for the 2023 winter series. It comes after Laura Whitmore announced that she was quitting as Love Island's host on Instagram back in August 2022. The presenter, who took over the role from Caroline Flack, who sadly passed away in 2020, told fans: "Some news! I won’t be hosting the next series of Love Island. There are certain elements of the show I’ve found very difficult that cannot be changed some due to the format, including the flying back and forth to South Africa along with my new conflicting projects.

“I wish it was still possible but know you’ll be in safe hands. I was only planning to fill in for Caroline for a series and it turned into 3 series.”

It was then confirmed in October 2022, that TV personality, Maya Jama had been confirmed as the new Love Island host, in a video posted online.

The clip saw Maya with her very own Love Island water bottle and personalized suitcase, with a caption that read: "Okay, the rumors are true 😉 Say hey to your brand-new #LoveIsland host @mayajama💘."

When did Maya Jama arrive in the villa?

Maya Jama, who is best known for presenting shows like Glow Up,  jetted to South Africa—where Love Island UK is filmed—on January 6th. She headed to the villa early to prepare for the show's start, including nailing down her slow-mo villa entrance.

She will feature in the first episode of Love Island and make her return for dramatic moments like the Casa Amor recoupling. You can also catch her every Sunday evening from January 22nd for Love Island Aftersun—alongside former season 8 islander, Indiyah Polack, and Made in Chelsea star and Love Island superfan, Sam Thompson.

There's a new Love Island host for 2023—but who is Maya Jama? Here's what you need to know...

Everything you need to know about Maya Jama—who's hosting Love Island 2023

Before being named the new host of Love Island, fans will recognize Maya Jama from TV shows like Glow Up, The Circle, Walk The Line and Celebrity Juice. She's also become somewhat of a style icon, known for her killer red carpet looks and don't even get us started with her Halloween costumes—there's a reason why Maya's Halloween parties have become legendary!

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Aside from her career success, the presenter was also famously in a relationship with rapper Stormzy, with the pair recently whipping up romance rumors following his latest album. Fans were convinced a number of Stormzy's songs were about Maya but alas, Maya has confirmed that she is single.

Maya was also recently engaged to basketball player Ben Simmons, but the pair have now split. There's been a lot of speculation recently about who is Maya Jama's boyfriend, but as far as she's letting on, the presenter is currently single.

Want a reminder of the series format? Here's what we've got to look forward to...

Love Island: What to expect from the series

For anyone who needs a full Love Island recap, the series typically lasts between six to eight weeks. Season eight was extended to eight weeks, so we could see season nine follow suit.

Once the islanders arrive and couple up, in a typical Love Island episode we will see the cast "graft" and compete in challenges during the day, before then getting dolled up for drinks (yes, they can drink on Love Islandbut only two glasses) in the evening—this is when all the spicy stuff tends to kick off, from fights to secret snogs.

They then all go and get ready for bed together, before the lights go off and the night vision cameras turn on. At night time is usually when the islanders get cozy, especially when one lucky couple is chosen to go in the hideaway.

Over the course of the first few weeks, we'll see new Love Island bombshells arrive, recouplings and vote-offs before Casa Amor makes its dramatic return in week three/four.

Following Casa Amor, which usually lasts for three days, the islanders will reunite for a recoupling—with Love Island 2022 giving us the most dramatic Casa recoupling of all time (it was a real nail-biter!).

In the penultimate weeks, viewers will also see the return of iconic challenges like the Baby Challenge and Movie night—where un-seen moments from Casa Amor are usually shown to the islanders. Every year, the contestants forget that what happens in Casa, never stays in Casa...

The final week will then see the islanders head to the Love Island nightclub, where a couple is usually dumped from the island—along with the 'meet the parents' episode, where the final islanders' families will enter the villa.

The Love Island final

In the lead up to the final, the remaining four couples will have a prom-style eveving, where they'll get all dressed up in suits and ballgowns and read their handwritten declarations of love to each other.

The final episode will see host, Maya Jama, along with an audience enter the villa to announce the third, second and winners of the show, along with montages of their best bits. 

When the winners are announced they are then given the option to split or steal all the £50k prize money.

Who won Love Island 2022?

Love Island 2022 saw Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu and Davide Sanclimenti crowned winners of season eight in an extravagant live final episode.

Ekin-Su and Davide—who are still fully loved up and are enjoying their lives together outside the villa—were fan-favorites to win the show, despite having quite a rocky journey throughout their time in the villa.

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The two each "had their heads turned" by two of the most popular Love Island bombshells of the series, which lead to one of the most memorable Love Island moments and most entertaining arguments of the show's history—of course leading to a pretty iconic Love Island meme...

The couple now share much of their life together on Instagram, proving that they still have a shared love of fitness—one of the things they bonded over on first meeting. They have also launched their TV show Homecomings, which documents them travelling around the countries of their respective heritage—Turkey for Ekin-Su and Italy for Davide.

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Take a peek at the winter Love Island 2023 villa...

Where is winter Love Island 2023? Take a peek at the villa...

Being that it's the first winter season since 2019—islanders are being treated to a brand new lavish villa in South Africa.

ITV released pictures of the villa just days after the Love Island 2023 cast was confirmed and much like the summer pad, the decor features all the iconic Love Island staples. From the neon signs, day beds—with pink and blue pillows abound, and the classic firepit to the hideaway.

We've also spied what looks to be a secluded tree house, which could be the hideaway or another private place like 2022's terrace where mad moves occur...

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The new main villa location also means we'll be seeing a never-before-seen Casa Amor villa! The infamous second villa typically returns mid-way through the series and has provided a number of the most memorable Love Island moments in previous series.

Last year, the girls departed for Casa Amor, meaning this series will likely see the boys pack their bags and sneak away—which, if Love Island 2021 is anything to go by, could see some mad moves and heartbreak take place...

Who are Love Island contestants for 2023?

So far the first 10 islanders making up the winter Love Island 2023 cast have been announced, with the line-up including the likes of TikTok star, Will Young aka (Farmer Will) and actress Olivia Hawkins.

We'll see these 10 contestants arrive in the villa in the first episode, likely followed by the first Love Island bombshell—who will either enter at the end of the first coupling or be teased at the end of the episode. So far, it's unknown whether it will be a female or male bombshell, but it's likely that it'll be a female bombshell given that the boys are arriving in the villa first this year. Plus the show usually alternates between a male and female each series for the first episode—and last year saw a male bombshell enter on the first day when Davide Sanclimenti, who ended up winning the series with Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu, showed up and turned heads.

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Following the first 11 contestants, new bombshells will enter the villa over the coming weeks to stir up the drama. Recouplings will then take place, with any islanders not chosen either having to remain single in the villa or get dumped from the island. There will also be vote-offs, where viewers can save their favorite couples from the dreaded dumping.

Around week four, Casa Amor will make it's return, with a new line-up or girls and boys entering the show. Last year there was 12 Casa Amor contestants, made up of six girls and six boys.

And we're off! Winter Love Island 2023 kicked off with new Love Island host Maya Jama landing at the villa in a helicopter (and a fire red co-ord) ready for her first ever iconic montage.

Maya Jama getting out of a helicopter in the winter Love Island 2023 first episode

(Image credit: ITV)

And finally we meet the islanders! 

Love Island: Meet the islanders 2023

Name: Shaq Muhammad| Age: 24| Job: Airport Security Officer

First up in the villa is Shaq, a 24-year-old airport security officer who can't wait to meet the girls in the villa.

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Name: Harris Namani | Age: 21 | Job: TV Salesman

Shaq entered the villa with cheeky chappie Haris, who headed straight for the gym as soon as he hit the villa.

In his intro, Haris revealed that he's never had a girlfriend or been in love before, he's into tanned girls and his mum thinks he looks like Christiano Ronaldo...

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Name: Will Young | Age: 23 | Job: Farmer

The first new guy to walk in and join the original two was the famous Farmer Will, the TikTok star who there's been a lot of hype over. He also revealed to the boys that he had never had a girlfriend before—let's see how he fairs in the villa... 

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Name: Ron Hall | Age: 25 | Job: Financial Advisor

Next up is Ron, who says he doesn't really have a type and is a "diamond in the rough". He's looking for someone he can hold a conversation with and has a vibe with—and he's admitted to the boys that he's ready to settle down.

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Name: Kai Fagan | Age: 24 | Job: Science and PE teacher

Last up for the boys we have Kai, who walked in very energetic with a big smile on his face. He said that he loves dating and that he believes in "playing the field" to find the right one and not settle. After a two-year relationship he had his heart broken and he's now "looking for wifey".

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Maya is in the house! The new Love Island host for 2023 did her first slow-mo walk into the villa before sitting around the firepit with the boys for a little chat about what they're all looking for...

Maya Jama chatting to the boys around the firepit in the winter Love Island 2023 first episode

(Image credit: ITV)

And the girls are making their way in...

Name: Tanya Manhenga | Age: 22 | Job: Model 

First up is Tanya, who got Shaq's attention straightaway. She's looking for cuddles and a boyfriend and is ready for "boys, boys, boys" in the villa.

Shaq stepped forward to show interest in Tanya, saying "just look at her", which host Maya dubbed as "love at first sight".

And it looks it just might be, as Tanya chose to couple with him—giving us our first Love Island couple of 2023!

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Name: Anna-May Robey | Age: 20 | Job: Payroll Administrator

Our second girl is Anna-May, a self-proclaimed "chatterbox" who is ready to open up about her sex life, "loves snogging" and has been single for just over a yesar. Revealing that she likes competition, she says her type is brown-haired boys but she might go for blonde in the villa.

Ron stepped forward saying she "has good energy", while Haris and Kai called her "beautiful" and "stunning" respectively when they stepped forward. Anna-May chose to couple up with Kai, giving us our second couple!

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Name: Lana Jenkins | Age: 25 | Job: Makeup Artist

Next up is Lana who says her chat-up line is that she speaks Spanish fluently after living in Spain for 10 years and is looking for a chef after a recommendation from her mum.

Will and Ron stepped forward for Lana, with Will saying she gave him butterflies and Ron calling her "a little rocket". Lana chose to couple up with Ron giving us our third couple!

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Name: Olivia Hawkins | Age: 27 | Job: Actress and Ring girl

Here comes Olivia! "Not a heartbreaker, a lover", Olivia says she only dates younger guys, loves approaching guys herself and has never been in a relationship.

The two currently single boys, Haris and Will stepped forward for Olivia—with boxer Haris even recognizing ring girl Olivia from the outside world!

However, that wasn't enough to win over Olivia, as she chose to couple up with already coupled-up Kai, stealing him from Anna-May who is now single. Oooh the drama's already here and we're loving it!

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Name: Tanyel Revan | Age: 26 | Job: Hairstylist

And last but definitely not least is Tanyel, who says she's honest and straightforward. Of Turkish-Cypriot descent, similar to last season's winner Ekin-Su who was from Turkey, maybe she's got a lucky streak running in her...

Kai—who has already been coupled up twice in the first half an hour of the show—stepped forward for Tanyel, as well as Haris and Will who are not coupled up yet.

Tanyel chose to couple up with Kai, giving him his third couple of the series and our fifth!

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Now that there are two single girls and two single boys left, the two remaining girls get to pick who to couple up with.

Anna-May chose to couple up with Haris, leaving Olivia to pick Will.

We now have five couples:

  • Tanya and Shaq
  • Lana and Ron
  • Tanyel and Kai
  • Anna-May and Haris
  • Olivia and Will

And that's it for Maya's first appearance as Love Island host! But we still have a lot more to come this evening...

As the islanders get ready for their first evening in the villa, they all chat game plans. With Shaq excited to share a bed with Tanya and Lana and Ron bonded over their Harry Potter obsessions, some of the other islanders are not so sure of their couples.

Olivia is hoping to get some face time with Haris, while some of the boys wants to want to try and get to know all the girls.

After having a little chat, Olivia and Anna-May realized that they have a similar type and settled on being open with each other about it.

And while Ron and Lana continue to bond, Haris and Olivia sat down for a chat to get to know each other. While chatting, the two agree to not mention their ages, as Love Island's Olivia is 27, while Haris is 21. Sitting around the firepit with a few of the other contestants, Olivia admitted that although she wants to be open, she feels like she may be ready to "friendzone" Will, before gushing to Lana over Haris.

However, Haris sat down for a chat with Tanyel, who seems to have turned a few of the boys' eyes...

And Maya is back! Just when they thought the drama was over, Maya walked in rocking a sexy cutout black dress with her hair in a cute half up-half down do, announcing, "I'm back" and sending the islanders into a tizzy...

Maya then gathered the the islanders around the firepit, telling them to "expect the unexpected"...

Revealing that the public have been voting on who should be the first Love Island bombshell of this year, Maya announced that the next contestant and first bombshell in the villa will be Tom...

Name: Tom Clare | Age: 23 | Job: Semi-Pro Footballer

Admitting that he usually gets what he wants, Tom walked in the villa to meet all of the cast, saying that he's "buzzing" to get to know everyone...

And the drama just keeps on coming!

Maya then revealed that in 24 hours Tom will couple up with any one of the girls in the villa, leaving one of the existing boys single and at risk of leaving the villa...

And that's it for tonight folks! Tune back into Love Island at 9pm on ITV tomorrow to see who Tom picks and what goes down next...

But if you just can't get enough and need more...

Tune into Love Island Aftersun & The Morning After podcast

The return of Love Island also means the return of Love Island Aftersun, where host Maya Jama will be joined by new Aftersun panelists Indiyah Polack and Sam Thompson. Aftersun airs every Sunday—straight after Love Island—and sees the panel interview dumped islanders and discuss all the antics from the previous week.

And, for anyone wanting an extra daily dose of Love Island—simply head over to 'The Morning After' podcast, where Indiyah and Sam (having taken over from Kem Cetinay and Arielle Free) will be dishing on the villa antics, every morning of the show's run!

The podcast features special Love Island guests, including islanders dumped from the 2023 villa. It's the perfect way to catch up if you've missed an episode.