Is 'Love Island' scripted? This is how real the romance (and drama) is

If you've ever wondered, is 'Love Island' scripted? You're not alone! Here's what we know about how real the on-screen antics actually are

a collage image featuring four of the winter Love Island 2023 contestants, Ron Hall and Lana Jenkins, Tanya Manhenga and Shaq Muhammad, with a pink border around the image
(Image credit: ITV/Future)

Is Love Island scripted? With the sheer amount of drama we enjoy every season—from heartbreaking dumpings, to adorable reunions and arguments aplenty—you may well be wondering how much of the show is manufactured for our viewing pleasure.

Every time a new season of Love Island rolls around (the next Love Island UK is coming very soon), we can be sure of a few things. There's Iain Stirling's hilarious jokes, some stunning Love Island outfits from our host Maya Jama, enviably beautiful singles, and an enormous villa that makes us weep into our bank account (this is where Love Island UK is filmed). 

But there's also the guarantee that we'll be thoroughly entertained, whether we're watching the Islanders participate in screaming matches, funny pranks, sweet proposals or saucy bedroom antics. So just how real are the scenes that we're seeing? And are the romances and friendships really genuine? Let us take you through what we know, as we answer the question, is Love Island scripted or real? And if you're not caught up on the most recent winter season, this is how to watch Love Island UK from anywhere in the world before the summer 2023 series begins.

Love Island 2023 winter contestants

(Image credit: ITV)

Is 'Love Island' scripted or real? 

A huge part of Love Island's charm is the opportunity to watch real people just like us—maybe with more abs and a bit more lip gloss—take on the very real trials and tribulations of falling in love. So if we were to find out that the romance and drama was as fake as the tan, we'd be pretty heartbroken. So is Love Island scripted?

Thankfully, the show's creators have vehemently insisted that the show is not scripted, and that the romance is as authentically messy and sweet as it appears on TV. In January 2020, they denied to Metro that the program is completely staged. "As anyone who watches the show regularly would know, Love Island is a combination of reality and produced elements that are reflective of what’s happening in the villa, and is a fair and accurate representation of villa life," a spokesperson said. 

"It is absolutely untrue to suggest that Love Island is fake, staged or scripted. The opinions they have and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders themselves.”

With the producers clearly committed to letting things play out naturally, they're understandably keen to ensure all the good stuff is caught on tape. There are more than 70 cameras reportedly dotted all over the villa. And while many are fitted to the walls of inside spaces like the bedroom and dressing area and linked up to the control room, those covering the pool and outdoor spots are manned by cameramen.

The islanders learn to dance ahead of the Love Island UK final

Season 8 contestants Andrew and Dami during the summer ball episode

(Image credit: ITV Pictures)

What have past Islanders said about Love Island being scripted? 

However, the above statement does differ slightly to what former cast members have shared about their experiences on the show after leaving the villa. Many have claimed that while they aren't given a script, they were given pointers about what to discuss with fellow contestants, or nudges in certain directions—seemingly as a way of tweaking and fine-tuning the storyline. 

"I think now in hindsight, there were clues or things that I could have picked up on that would have kind of explained how my journey would have gone," one of season 7 contestants Sharon Gaffka told My Imperfect Life. "In terms of me leaving single, I think that was always the plan for me as a character in the show. I think that there were people in [the villa] that were pretending to be something they're not, or pretended to, or were portrayed as, something they're not."

Gaffka believes that she was cast in a particular role by producers. "The interview process is the same with a job—you can lie. You're desperate to be on that show, you will say anything that you think the producers want to hear in order to get on it," she explained. "I remember saying to producers, 'I am either going to be the public sweetheart or public enemy number one.' Obviously, they want people that will potentially be public enemy number one, so I was easy pickings for that."

Fellow season 7 Islander Abigail Rawlings agreed in MIL's chat with her. "It's a TV program at the end of the day and I think a lot of people forget that," she told us. "It circulates around drama, because that's interesting," she points out. "So I definitely do believe that it depends on who is the strongest couple at the time, and they'll throw people in there to test that relationship—for everyone at home to realize how real it is, or if it will blow up in their faces."

Female Love Island contestants standing in front of the fire pit during a recoupling

(Image credit: ITV Pictures)

Recently, season 8 contestant Jay Younger (who enjoyed a short-lived romance with eventual winner Ekin-Su) shared some seriously juicy details about the filming of the show on a recent episode of the Big Jim Show podcast.

He explosively revealed that lots of his moves in the villa were dictated by producers—down to who he picked for a date. Jay said, "For me, I was told who to select for a date and who not to select for a date."

"In there, it’s not as organic as you think. When I was told who to select for a date, for example, I was told not to pick Paige. I was with a girl called Ekin in there, who actually went on to win the show…. But I wasn’t allowed to pick who I genuinely wanted to at the start, which was Paige.”

The former Islander shared plenty of other details, also explaining that he had to re-film an 'I've got a text!' scene three times, and that the producers would often stop contestants from talking about certain things in the outside world. We're shook!

The involvement of producers seems to be something that's gone on since the very beginning of the show. Season three cast member Tyla Carr told The Daily Star in 2018 that producers might “suggest it would be a good idea if you brought something up or discussed something.”

"What viewers don’t see is there is always a producer on site," she added. "They don’t live in the villa with us but someone generally comes in every hour to have a chat. They would often tannoy an announcement asking for someone to come to the sofa to have a chat with one of the producers. They tell you what they want you to talk about and who with.”

Similarly, Kady McDermott, a season two Islander, told Cosmopolitan—also in 2018—that producers would sometimes advise on conversation topics and warn them not to "name drop" famous people, as the show wouldn't be able to air it. As fans suspected at the time, this is probably why we rarely saw 2022's Gemma Owen discuss her famous father, Michael Owen.

Gemma Owen on Love Island 2022

(Image credit: ITV Picture Desk)

In a 2022 with Closer, as well as explaining how producers might suggest holding certain conversations, past contestants Jack Fincham and Shaughna Phillips also elaborated on how producers might suggest what was discussed or make Islanders re-shoot their conversations.

The pair also discussed the tannoy (or "voice of God") that would instruct to Islanders to gather in a particular area of the villa, or the way that producers might drop their phones nearby, which usually signalled that somebody was about to get a text. Wouldn't we love to be a fly on the wall...

So in answer to the question, is Love Island scripted, it seems that the truth is a little bit more blurry than you might expect! While we know full well that there isn't a full and complete script for the show—it does appear that there are producers who have some control over the direction of the program. But, in the same way that shows like Bling Empire may be constructed, or Too Hot To Handle; it appears that like all 'reality' shows, there is some element of construction in order to entertain Love Island viewers—which perhaps isn't that surprising.

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Lauren is a freelance writer and editor with more than six years of digital and magazine experience. Most recently, she has been the Acting Commissioning Editor of Women's Health—where she co-produced the Going For Goal podcast—and has previously also written news and features for titles including The Telegraph, Grazia, Stylist, Dazed, The Sun's Fabulous, Yahoo Style UK and Get The Gloss. She covers all aspects of lifestyle, specializing in health, beauty, and travel. Can't live without: oat milk lattes, new podcast episodes, long walks, and great skincare.