Dubliner Catherine Agbaje debuts in Love Island as ITV reels from ongoing Phillip Schofield controversy

Television: Barely 90 minutes in, and show is already playing the hits. Fans will adore it. Everyone else will have changed the channel

Bob Dylan goes electric, U2 discover irony, James Bond ditches his sense of humour ... In popular culture, some shifts are so dramatic it’s almost too much to take in across a single sitting. A similar earthquake attends the opening of the latest series of ITV’s Love Island (Virgin Media Two, 9pm), which blindsides viewers by introducing female and male contestants together for the first time.

In the past, the girls all came on together, followed by the boys. No longer. Consequently, we are denied the ancient ritual whereby female constants arrive dancing in open-top jeeps while their male counterparts walk down a corridor making tiny smoking gun gestures with their fingers. Such is the price of progress.

However, that’s the only change as the show returns with host Maya Jama, who replaced Wicklow’s Laura Whitmore in the previous series. The traditional token Irish contestant is now Dubliner Catherine Agbaje, a commercial real estate agent.

She joins an Irish Love Island Hall of Fame that includes Maura Higgins, Dami Hope and Yewande Biala. Agbaje receives the standard introduction, in which she laments that her life is full of ‘situationships” – Love Island lingo for a flirtation that doesn’t go anywhere.


Love Island has, of course, spawned a unique derivation of English, featuring phrases such as “the ick” – a sort of cross between not fancying someone and recoiling from them in Lovecraftian terror – and “grafting”, which is when you talk to someone at a human level in the hope they respond in kind.

Each season is approximately 4,000 episodes long, and this early on, it’s hard to gauge the contestants. Agbaje is paired with André, who drops such Wildean pearls as “I love bum, bum”, and “I can’t contain my wandering eye from wandering.”

Elsewhere Islanders are already saying things such as “My mum calls me a Casanova. I don’t know what that it is. I thought it was a car” and “What do you call people from Glasgow ... Glasgow-wegians?”

There’s a bombshell at the end as Jama returns to the villa and asks whether any of the contestants wish to leave the couple the voting public has set up with them. Jess and Ruchee both ditch their beaus – just in time for a bonus bad boy to join the island.

Barely 90 minutes in, and show is already playing the hits. Fans will adore it. Everyone else will have long since changed the channel. And ITV, as it reels from the ongoing Phillip Schofield controversy, will be thanking the TV gods it still has Love Island to fall back on.

Love Island began Monday on ITV2 at 9pm