Raunchy and voyeuristic: Love Island comes to Malta’s TV screens

Love Island Malta co-producer Ben Camille speaks to MARIANNA CALLEJA on the show’s duty of care towards its participants as they face the social media grilling 

Love Island has landed in Malta and the voyeuristic show that starts airing tonight on TVM comes with its fair share of titillating controversies. 

Built around the raunchy relationships that develop between 10 participants thrust in a villa and made to share a bed, Love Island has been in the spotlight internationally for the impact on the mental health of participants. 

Ben Camille, Love Island Malta’s co-producer said the show is contractually bound to monitor the mental health of every participant. 

He told MaltaToday that the show hired its own psychologist to assist participants in every process of the show. 

“Darlinka Barbara, the psychologist, was grilled herself by a ‘duty of care’ committee. She was approved by the franchise,” Camille said. 

The show hired its own psychologist, Darlinka Barbara, to assist participants in every process of the show
The show hired its own psychologist, Darlinka Barbara, to assist participants in every process of the show

Created by ITV Studios, the Love Island franchise spawned a second British version in 2015 as well as around 22 international versions.  

In 2023, following several suicides from past participants, Love Island underwent a major shake-up for mental health reasons. 

Trolling and criticism aside, in the villa the participants endure a number of challenges, which could potentially trigger mental health issues. 

This all came to surface after two former participants, a former host and a participant’s boyfriend all committed suicide in 2019 and in 2020. 

First was former Miss Great Britain Sophie Hannah Gradon, who was a participant of the ITV show in 2016. Gradon, 32, was diagnosed with depression and low self-esteem in 2013 and was taking medication at the time of her death in 2018. 

Her boyfriend, Aaron Armstrong, who discovered the body was found dead just days after her funeral. 

Only two months later, Love Island and Celebs Go Dating contestant, Mike Thalassitis, took his own life.  

At the age of 26, Thalassitis was found dead in a park, next to suicide notes making his intentions clear. 

Described as the ‘Bridget Jones of TV’, Caroline Flack hosted Love Island for four consecutive years. She resigned in 2019, after being accused of assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp. 

In February 2020, while awaiting trial, Flack, 40, died by suicide. The blame was put on none other than ‘general fluctuating mental state.’ 

Critics had claimed the programme needs to be held responsible for the deaths. Instead after pulling the plug on the show for a while, the franchise returned with several 'duty of care' measures. 

Ben Camille, co-producer of Love Island
Ben Camille, co-producer of Love Island

Camille explained to us how Barbara saw the participants before their approval, and carefully examined their mental health.  

“Prior to entering the villa, participants are held in a hotel. Barbara visits them here as well,” he added. 

The psychologist sticks with the participants during their stay in the villa. Camille explained how even the production team can flag anyone they think might have issues to Barbara, and she will help them right away. 

After leaving the villa, participants will participate in a series of sessions tailored to their needs. “The therapy stops when the participants are given the green light by Darlinka,” Camille said. 

An overview of the welfare services offered to the participants, according to the franchise booklet are comprehensive psychological support; training for all Islanders on the impacts of social media and handling potential negativity; training for all Islanders on financial management; detailed conversations with Islanders regarding the impact of participation on the show; a proactive aftercare package which extends support to all Islanders following their participation on the show; and guidance and advice on taking on management after the show. 

Participants started being revealed on Thursday. Appearing in swimwear they gave a brief introduction to themselves and what they expect from a relationship. 

Immediately, social media was awash with reactions, some of which were not kind at all. The participants, already locked up in a hotel, are unaware of what has been said about them so far. They will remain unaware during their stay in the villa since they are barred from communicating with the outside world. 

“Our main concern is for these young people to be protected,” Camille said, which is why the show has invested in its own psychological care.  

Love Island social media posts have been attracting a lot of attention. With a minimum of 50,000 views and an average of 300/400 comments on each post, Camille said public engagement has been exceptional. 

“Not all the comments are hateful, but hate travels fast... I would like to thank people who are standing up to the hate,” Camille said. 

How does Love Island work? 

The show starts with 10 attractive people, five girls and five boys, all in swimsuits, waiting in a villa. The women stand in line and watch as the men come out one by one.  

If they like him, they step forward. If more than one girl steps forward, he gets to pick. 

Couples then live together, in a two-bedroom villa. To make the sleeping arrangements even more interesting, one bedroom is the hideaway, where lucky participants get to spend a romantic night together. The other bedroom hoards the rest of the participants, with one double bed per couple. 

‘A bombshell enters the villa’ 

Cringey, cheesy or straight-out hilarious challenges are thrown at the participants. From a simple kissing game to a sexy firemen rescue, the challenges are unexpected, wild and hot. 

As new participants are introduced throughout the episodes, a ‘coupling ceremony’ ensues. These ceremonies provide participants with the opportunity to either keep their current partner or ‘uncouple’ to go with a new participant. 

In order to win Love Island, you have to still be a couple by the end of the show.  

Finally, the public votes for their favourite couple left at the end.