My Celebrity Life

I was falling out of Love with Love Island – then Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu came along

She’s injected more oomph into Love Island than all the contestants who have made the same pilgrimage to the villa combined (Picture: ITV)

There was a time when I would long for the summer – and not because of the drinks in the park, weekend barbecues or chance to flaunt my illuminous pasty chest to lucky passers-by.

My hunger for the summer months came from one thing and one thing only – the return of Love Island.

I was a late comer to Love Island.

I jumped in and out of series one, didn’t bother with series two (widely hailed as the best series to date) but was overwhelmingly drawn in during the summer of 2015 when Chris Hughes and Kem Cetinay’s genuinely hysterical bromance was worth staying up later than 9pm for, and Camilla Thurlow’s heartbreak genuinely broke my heart too.

Queen Maura Higgins single-handedly ruled the summer of 2019, even if the same year cursed us with Curtis Pritchard. Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham were cute, sure, but was I skipping a night in the pub to watch them play footsies under the covers?

Well, yes – but reluctantly.

Since then though, little, if anything, has managed to spark my interest. Casa Amor? Casa Abore, more like. (I hate me too.)

There are connections that seem promising and there’s drama brewing (Picture: ITV)

Even Love Island chats in the office have been few and far between and when you work on an entertainment news desk, that’s an absolute tragedy.

Jump to 2022 and I didn’t have much hope for the future of Love Island; its heyday seemed long gone, failing to make a single star out of its cast for three years.

You won’t hear me say this often, but here we go: I was wrong.

At the time of writing, we’re just nine days into the current series of Love Island and already that villa is more sexually charged than Ex On The Beach.

There are connections that seem promising and there’s drama brewing – testosterone fuelled competition between egotistical horny jocks – which is the drama we love to see, rather than the Faye Winters of the world making a mockery of their partners and themselves with uncomfortable results.

After week one, critics moaned Love Island had become the ‘Gemma Owen show’, but, honestly, the Gemma Owen show brought the goods.

A secret A-list father, a love square between three other boys, in part causing one to make a dramatic exit. Not to mention the revelation she would happily lick a horse’s a**e for £2,000, which is probably less than her most expensive footwear.

Still, unlike other years, it feels like producers read the room and listened, and subsequently explored the unsung huns of the villa.

Amber Beckford and Indiyah Polack got next to no airtime in the opening episodes but are actually going on two of the most interesting journeys in there so far.

Amber and Dami Hope are one the most compatible Love Island couples since Dani and Jack, and seeing Ikenna Ekwonna learn the basic rules of dating is like watching the Secret Life of Four-Year-Olds, totally adorable and I am rooting for him every step of the way.

Also, I can imagine even producers underestimated that fire storm that would be Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu, the actress who boasts playing a ‘serial killer’ in a Turkish soap on her resume, and, I mean this as a total, albeit alarming, compliment, it’s easy to see why.

She’s injected more oomph into Love Island than all the contestants who have made the same pilgrimage to the villa combined – from breaking down over a coffee to literally getting her sharpened claws into every male with a pulse who walks past.

I love her with all my heart, which I haven’t felt about a Love Island contestant since Maura, who, really, will never be beaten.

Ahead of this year’s series, Love Island’s executive producer Mike Spencer confirmed this year’s casting process was led by compatibility between islanders, which perhaps might seem like a given but actually the love in Love Island has been somewhat forgotten.

I love her with all my heart (Picture: ekinsuofficial/Instagram)

Already, Andrew Le Page and Tasha Ghouri have had their ups, downs and a night in the Hideaway after spending evenings clinging onto each other’s clothing, clearly desperate to rip every second-hand garment off each other.

Gemma’s called Luca a ‘p***k’, but whatever critics think of her, she’s clearly smitten with the fishmonger. I’m happy he’ll probably get to meet the parents and subsequently one of his childhood heroes.

There’s a different vibe in this year’s Love Island.

While scrapping the fast fashion and revolving outfits from Boohoo might not make a difference for the viewer, it does feel like the move to provide a sustainable wardrobe is one factor that has changed the tone of the show.

For the first time in a long time, it feels like Love Island is back with heart, which has always been its greatest strength.

The show shines brightest when its bursting with romance, bromance and sisterhood and so far the class of 2022 are delivering all three in abundance.

Season eight is back on fine form and I am ready for a scorching summer.

Love Island continues tonight at 9pm on ITV2.

Credit: Source

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