The days in the UK may be cold and dark, butLove Island 2023 is here to get temperatures rising.
Returning to the winter format of the show, the popular ITV2 dating programme is back as a whole new cast of sexy,including a teacher and farmer, embark on the trip of a lifetime.
But as they begin to makethe stunning new South African villa their home for the next eight weeks, the contestants will have already spent some time soaking up the sun in a series of holding villas and hotels.
Here,2022 contestant Jack Keating speaks to OK! about the realities of preparing to enter the villa…
“A month after I found out I’d secured a place in the villa, I was on my way to Heathrow Airport to fly out to Mallorca and meet my chaperone, Dan. We’d been texting back and forth about how he’d be looking after me for two weeks, but I was so excited to finally meet him and embark on this new adventure.
Arriving at the airport with my suitcase full of swimming shorts and non-branded T-shirts, I was greeted by Dan who quickly handed me a shopping list and told me to write down any items I wanted to have in my holding villa. As a chef, all I wanted was plenty of ingredients on hand, so chicken and steak were a must.
As soon as I got on the plane, I began analysing every single person on the flight. I did my best to try and see if I recognised anybody or if anyone looked like they were going into the villa too. ITV keeps everyone separate, but I couldn’t help but be suspicious about who I was with.
When we landed I was driven to a villa in the middle of nowhere. The place I was staying was very fancy and had three bedrooms and its own swimming pool – I wasn’t allowed to leave during my stay, but as there were no other buildings for what seemed like miles, I’d have had nowhere to go anyway.
While I had to surrender my wallet at the airport, for the first week of isolation I was allowed my phone, so I could keep in touch with my friends. I’d told everyone that I was going on holiday, but I made a slight mistake when I uploaded a picture to BeReal with the location set to Mallorca. A few people cottoned on at that point, especially when I suddenly went off grid in my second week.
Throughout those two weeks in isolation, I hardly spoke to anyone other than Dan. Producers came in occasionally to give a rundown about what was happening, but it meant that Dan and I got to know each other very well. In a way, it prepared me for the villa and meant I got to know what the situation would be like.
Whenever Dan FaceTimed his family, I’d get to chat to them too about how they were doing and what was happening back home. It was nice to see some other faces, especially given that I could no longer speak to my own parents.
In order to make the days go faster, I tried to create a routine. I’d wake up early in the morning, have something to eat and then use the weights they’d given me to do some working out.
Dan and I would also cook with each other every day, making everything from salad to burgers. He brought a PlayStation too which meant we could play lots of FIFA in between sunbathing outdoors.
In the evening, I had to watch Love Island and Dan and I would constantly gossip about the drama on screen. However, he remained poker faced whenever I did ask him for any insider information. At the end of each episode I was required to say who my top three girls were, so producers could gauge what would happen if they sent me into the villa.
For my time in the holding villa, I was so worried about risking my place on the show that I never thought about breaking the rules. That being said, I’ve heard of other contestants trying to log onto their chaperone’s laptops to get more details.
The night before going into the villa, I was told to get myself ready and had to pick three or four outfits to potentially wear and send the photos to the producers who told me which one to wear. Then on the day, a barber came to the villa who gave my hair a quick cut and by 11pm I was in Casa Amor.
Entering the show was, and still feels, so surreal. I’d been watching the people in the villa every single night, so it felt like they were celebrities. While the days felt long, looking back it feels like yesterday and I’d do it all again.”
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