Cancel the champagne and call off the 21-gun salute. The wait for another Irish Love Island victory must continue, with the Dublin microbiologist Dami Hope finishing third in the 2022 final, along with his partner, Indiyah Polack. First place goes to Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu and Davide Sanclimenti, the people’s champions after a public vote places them ahead of Gemma Owen and Luca Bish.
Tear and cheers flow as Laura Whitmore reveals the result at the end of a bumper, 90-minute Love Island: The Live Final (Virgin Media Two and ITV2, 9pm). Davide — a self-declared “Italian snack” — looks as if the cat swallowed his tongue as he takes in the happy news. Ekin-Su doesn’t know whether to punch the air or sob and so instead settles for hugging Whitmore. (It could have been worse: in her confusion she might have hugged the air and punched Whitmore.)
“You get to split £50,000 — but, let’s be honest: it’s not about the money; it’s about the love you shared,” says Whitmore, who seems just as excited about the result as any of the Islanders (and you can bet she’s getting paid more than £50,000 for her troubles).
“It feels so surreal to find the man of your dreams,” Ekin-Su says when it is revealed she has made the final two (Tasha Ghouri and Andrew Le Page having finished fourth, behind Dami and Indiyah).
“Bonkers, crazy, romantic, fun,” she adds — presumably referring to her time on Love Island rather than to the drawn-out grand decider. This involves obligatory salsa dancing, a lifetime supply of montages, and the couples jumping into a pool in eveningwear. (Except for the eveningwear, it sounds like the average Irish sun holiday.)
It has been an emotional, controversial and sometimes surreal two months on Love Island. The series has always had its ups and downs. And this season has been reliably incident-packed.
Two contestants voluntarily left the villa. Liam Llewellyn, who departed in June, later said he had struggled to be himself on the series. And then, almost exactly a month later, Jacques O’Neill quit after finding himself at the centre of a bizarre love triangle.
Dami kept Irish interest alive all the way to the final. But he wasn’t the only Dubliner to feature. Jack Keating, son of Ronan Keating and Yvonne Connolly, was cast in the Casa Amor section, where islanders are “tempted” by newly arrived singletons.
The editing meant that his appearance, alas, had a blink-and-it’s-gone quality. Casa Amor was far more dramatic for dashing Dami. He temporarily ditched Indiyah for Summer Botwe — and dropped the bombshell with a cheesy line about “Summer just getting started”. (Dami may be charm on a stick, but somebody please get this man a better joke-writer.)
Still, they eventually got back together — and in time to make it to the final.
“I feel like it’s been a movie,” Hope tells Whitmore after it is revealed that he and Indiyah have come third.
And so the dust settles, the fake tan evaporates and cocktail hour at the poolside ends. Has it been a classic Love Island season? Fans may agree to differ (though many seem united in their dislike of Gemma, daughter of the England soccer player Michael Owen).
Still, Dami seems to have enjoyed his time in the sun. And when he returns to his microbiology job in Dublin it may well be that love is the bug he’s thinking of.