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Why it probably won’t end well for Love Island contestants

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 January 2020

Love Island contestants are preparing for their '15 minutes of fame. Pictured, a visitor takes a selfie with 'Self-Portrait' by Andy Warhol

Love Island contestants are preparing for their '15 minutes of fame. Pictured, a visitor takes a selfie with 'Self-Portrait' by Andy Warhol

PA Archive/PA Images

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, while most people were toasting 2020, I was sat on the sofa engrossed in a television series I accidentally fell in love with.

You might think there is nothing too outlandish about that. Television is enjoying a golden age thanks to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

Production values are now on a par with the movies - and more talent than ever is happy to go straight to the small screen.

But this show wasn't the type I normally enjoy.

I would say my taste is fairly common for a man in his 40th year - favourites include Have I Got News For You? University Challenge and Question Time.

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But in the waste land between Christmas and New Year I wandered into a room where Temptation Island was playing. To my surprise, and initially shame, I was hooked.

The premise is very odd. Four couples test the strength of their relationships by spending time apart - surrounded by a bevy of beauties from the opposite sex who are looking for love.

Then, once a week, they are shown clips of what their other halves have been up to. They all start the process determined not to stray but - in this series at least - one by one they began to misbehave.

The cringe factor is off the radar and there is a lot of talk about personal "journeys" and the young folk being filmed are always trying to "find" themselves.

Perhaps not surprisingly no-one comes out of this process with much credibility.

On Sunday Britain's own version of Temptation Island kicks off - expect everyone under about 30 to be talking about nothing else. There will be villains, hearts will be broken and there will be a lot of swim wear.

But why on earth would people put themselves through this? Reality television is no longer in its infancy. And it rarely ends well for the stars of these Big Brother-style shows.

These 'contestants' must know the potential consequences. But there is something they are happy to risk it all for - fame.

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In 1968 pop art pioneer Andy Warhol wrote in his programme notes for an exhibition in Stockholm that "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes". More recently Banksy created a pastiche sculpture of a television with the words "in the future, everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes".

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The general public are now more likely to be famous than ever before. Everyone has the means to film and publish in their pocket in the shape of a mobile phone. It is easier than ever - and you don't actually require much, if any, talent.

And yet famous people often wish they weren't. Royals are desperately fleeing the country. Footballers live in gated communities. And pop stars dash out for a pint of milk in dark glasses and baseball caps.

What is the allure? Do people believe that with fame comes instant, easy wealth?

A few years ago I was chatting to someone who had just left university and I asked him what his plans were. "I have applied for Big Brother," came the reply. I laughed but it quickly became clear he was deadly serious.

Is grabbing your 15 minutes now a viable career option for our young people?

Will careers advisers soon be telling high school pupils to work on their Instagram feed and launch a You Tube channel?

When Love Island launches there will be 11 contestants vying for victory - exactly how they do that I am uncertain but I believe it has something to do with finding a love interest. The hopefuls include a civil servant, a scaffolder and a young lady who believes she is the "Beyoncé of Waltham Forest".

The truth is that they are not likely to find actual, lasting love. And surely they don't really believe they will. Their goal is fame. Unadulterated, recognised-in-Tesco, booked-to-switch-on-the-Christmas-lights type fame.

God help them.

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