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ALLY ROSS

Without Iain Stirling’s wit this year’s Love Island’s really Suckin’

LONGEST recorded silence in Love Island history?

The awkward one which followed Gemma Owen asking a clearly frightened Davide Sanclimenti this very loaded question: “If you had just three words to describe me to someone, what would you say?”

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Drama was rather limited in this year's Love Island until the arrival of a solid piece of gold called Ekin-Su Culculoglu, pictured here with Jay YoungerCredit: ITV
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Iain Stirling's once barbed and very funny commentary is missing from the show this yearCredit: Getty

“What indeed?” you could almost hear the poor cornered bloke thinking, for a deafening age, until Michael Owen’s daughter eventually had to try to prompt an answer out of him.

“Come on, it’s not difficult . . . ”

Not difficult? It’s a ruddy minefield, Gemma.

“Spoilt little madam” hints at too much excitement. So, unless you want a bloke to be rather crude or you’re just fishing for empty compliments, “dull as dad” is probably as good as it’s going to get.

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Over-entitled bunch

This is a problem for the show, as it’s thrown everything at Gemma during the opening two weeks, including ex-boyfriend and self-styled “cheeky chappie” Jacques O’Neill, a little “charmer” who says: “I do what I like and I get what I want.”

It may also explain why pickings are so slim elsewhere on Love Island, where ITV2 has been self-sabotaging from the moment the traditional humiliation of the opening pairing ceremony was replaced by a public vote that was carried out with all the subtlety of a Mind Your Language episode.

Once the dust had cleared on that debacle, it was clear the show was seriously short of sexual chemistry and filled with contestants who were more noticeable for their odd markings rather than their characters.

Foremost among them were Luca Bish who, without any apparent irony, has an Einstein tattoo on his shoulder, and microbiologist Dami Hope, who claims he’s got a heart-shaped birthmark on his penis, rather than the penis-shaped birthmark on his heart that he so richly deserves.

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Drama was, as a result, rather limited, until the arrival of a solid piece of Love Island gold called Ekin-Su Culculoglu, an actress who’d previously appeared on a Turkish soap opera (please tell me it was called IstEnders) and has as much tact as the next Carpet Viper.

In another age she would also have earned the nickname “Suckin-Hu?” by now, because, to start with, she paired herself with Davide. Very quickly, however, she discovered that, for all his “Italian stallion” looks and vaulting conceit, he had about as much personality as a stale panettone cake.

Love Island’s MVP

Taking the show’s format at face value, she quickly sidelined him and then set about pursuing new arrival Jay Younger, literally on all fours, wiggling her arse at him until she snared him on the terrace, while no one except the TV camera was looking.

Jay has since tired of her demanding and self-absorbed ways, but Ekin-Su is still Love Island’s MVP, a producer’s dream and the absolute stuff of other girls’ nightmares.

As entertaining as she’s been, though, it’s hard to watch any episode of this eighth series without thinking something’s still missing. You may have your own theories here, but for me it’s the once barbed and very funny commentary of Iain Stirling, which used to be the sole reason many of us, who weren’t natural Love Island fans, would enjoy the show.

It was the best thing about every series, in fact. Not any more, though. This run it’s been so witless and annoying I’ve started to wonder if my memory’s been playing tricks on me and that it was never funny in the first place.

I think a likelier explanation, however, is that, following several high-profile tragedies, a panicked and over-protective ITV has reined in absolutely anything that might even hint at mockery or ridicule.

You understand their caution, to an extent, of course, but it’s a great shame, as almost no one on telly deserves to have the wind taken out of their sails quite as much as this over-entitled bunch of Love Islanders.

Instead, it’s now left to the viewers to supply the obvious when Afia says: “Would you lick a pig’s bum for £2,000?” And Gemma replies: “I’d do, like, a horse’s arse.” We know. We’ve already met Jacques.

Unexpected morons in the bagging area

TIPPING POINT for Soccer Aid, Ben Shephard: “Located in the US, Freedom Barks and Fort Woof are parks designed for what type of domesticated animals?”

Lee Juggurnauth: “Safari animals.”

Weakest Link, Romesh Ranganathan: “In celebrities, in 2010 singer Cheryl and Kate Winslet both gave birth to boys and named them after what animal?”

Clair Norris: “The pig.”

The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Which king was nicknamed Coppernose Harry due to his debasement of the coinage?”

Jackie: “Edward the Conqueror.”

TV GOLD

BBC2’s unforgettable documentary Our Falklands War: A Frontline Story.

Actors Alan Armstrong and Lorraine Ashbourne rising above the limitations of BBC1’s relentlessly miserable drama Sherwood.

The mind-blowing engineering brilliance of The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway, on BBC2. Channel 5’s Heatwave: Summer Of ’76 making me ache with nostalgia for hosepipe detector vans and a less preachy Britain.

And Liam’s Love Island confession that he thought: “Elton John was two people, Elt and John,” which made me feel slightly better about thinking Sally Ann Triplett was three and Dany N’Guessan was a French quiz show.

Random TV irritations

BBC1’s miners’ strike drama Sherwood building all the lingering animosity around left-wing conspiracy theories rather than the ballot-dodging stupidity of Arthur Scargill.

ITV2’s bone-brained decision to change the format of Love Island’s coupling-up ceremony. The BBC promoting only the women’s tournament in its nauseatingly woke Wimbledon adverts.

And Embarrassing Bodies’ “Health Of The Nation” statistical survey boldly declaring “Scotland has more orgasms than the rest of the UK”, without adding the necessary disclaimer: Only in weeks when England have lost 4-0 at home to Hungary.

WOKE TEST PASSED

INCIDENTALLY, on Tuesday, Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin said the classic BBC1 sitcom would never get made now as, “It wouldn’t pass the woke test.”

And if you want to know why this is a tragedy for the television industry and viewers, access a three minute 35 second YouTube clip titled “Men Behaving Badly – Wedding” and listen to the strange noise that kicks in after one minute 27 seconds, which, after a decade of woke bullying, now sounds so unfamiliar and out of time it might as well be the last ever mating honk of the Dodo.

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Men Behaving Badly's Caroline Quentin said the classic BBC1 sitcom would never get made now as, 'It wouldn’t pass the woke test'Credit: Imagenet

It’s joyful, sincere, unrestrained laughter and I miss it so much.

  • ROMESH Ranganathan: Avoidance. If only it was possible.

Lookalike of the week

THIS week’s winner is that malevolent old throwback from the Reward My Teabreak union (RMT), Mick Lynch, and the unmasked Darth Vader, as played by Sebastian Shaw. Sent in by Jonathan Wood.

  • Picture research: AMY READING.

Bodies spies on morons

AT some point, while my back was turned, Embarrassing Bodies popped back to life, like a pus-filled cyst on the top of E4’s head.

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Embarrassing Bodies' old gang of doctors have been woke-washed out of existence, naturally, and replaced by doctors Jane Leonard amongst othersCredit: Rob Parfitt / Channel 4

The old gang of doctors, Christian Jessen, Pixie McKenna and Dawn Harper, have been woke-washed out of existence, naturally, and replaced by doctors Anand Patel, Jane Leonard and Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo.

They’ve got a fancy new hi-tech surgery as well, with switchable privacy windows, so the only people who can now see you’ve got a dong that bends like the 14th hole at Carnoustie are several hundred thousand E4 viewers.

The resident GPs are still full of the usual head-tilting concern, of course, but the fresh detail which betrays the network’s real voyeuristic intent is a thing called the safe space confession booth, where the public ask questions that are uniformly moronic: “Is chemical sex safe?”

And Doctor Jane provides an answer that borders on the bestial: “If you go to one of these sex parties, you’re literally going down a rabbit hole.”

My own favourite, though, was a bloke from Birmingham called Ricky, who popped in to ask: “Does weed affect the size of your penis?”
“No, it doesn’t.” Well, at least not as badly as weedkiller does, anyway.

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  • GREAT TV lies and delusions of the week. Backstage With Katherine Ryan: “I’ll be joined by four of the best comics in the country.” (Jimmy Carr and three deadbeats)
  • Love Island, Jacques: “I’m not big-headed at all.” Love Island, Ekin-Su to Luca: “You’re being, I wouldn’t say clingy, because you’re not clingy. I just want you to be . . . ” Less clingy.

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