Oooh, Princess Anne’s horse is such a stud!
A HISTORY OF LOVE ISLAND, PART 1
The very first series of Love Island was broadcast only on the wireless. Premiering live from the Isle of Wight on the BBC home Service on June 14, 1958, it featured three men and three women, all of them top ‘pin-ups’ of their day, among them Arthur Askey, Lady Diana Cooper, Gracie Fields and Bertrand Russell.
But from the beginning, the series was torn by controversy. At the start of the second week, questions were raised in Parliament after actor Terry-Thomas let slip on air that he was wearing nothing but a pair of swimming trunks and a shirt, even though there were ladies on the beach.
‘That a publicly funded organisation should be sponsoring such unbridled depravity strikes at the very heart of civilisation,’ argued Sir Gerald Nabarro MP. he went on to argue that, in future, all participants should be obliged to wear ar a lounge suit at all times (if male) or full evening dress with a fullbrimmed hat (if female).
The following year, Love e Island moved to the Isle of Man, an, where the weather ather was considered dered sufficiently chilly hilly to dampen any y signs of ardour among the contestants. ts.
however, further urther furore erupted after hostess Fanny Cradock handed ded out slices of lemon drizzle izzle cake and failed to provide ide serviettes for contestants. Consequently, cameras caught one or two contestants wiping their mouths with their sleeves.
‘The youth of today is already barbaric, but this heralds another step on the downhill slope to the morality of the monkey-house,’ complained a young Mary Whitehouse in an urgent telegram to Lord Reith.
The winners of the second series were the young edward heath and glamorous actress Joan Collins, who walked around hand-in-hand, fooling viewers into thinking they had formed a partnership. It was only later that rumours began to spread that theirs was purely a partnership of convenience, based solely on the prospect of running away with the first prize.
Love Island was broadcast live from the Isle of Mull in November, 1962. Determined to draw a line through the checkered past of the series, the BBC persuaded hM Queen elizabeth the Queen Mother to oversee its official opening. Though the location and season had been chosen in the hope that contestants would be forced to wrap up well, the series coincided with a freak heatwave. Consequently, contestant Barbara Cartland drew heavy criticism when she was caught on camera wearing a dress and cardigan on the beach, with no overcoat. The following year, one of the contestants — the young pop star Tommy Steele — was recorded using a rude word when he dropped something. At that time, the word in question — ‘whoops’ — was among more than 5,000 expressions classified as ‘seriously offensive to the ordinary, decent viewer’ by the BBC. others included ‘chips’, ‘oh bother!’ and ‘jeans’. By the middle of the decade, Love Island was in the vanguard of the so-called ‘Permissive Soci Society’. hosted on the Isle o of Sheppey b by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in a risque ballgown, t the 1966 series fe featured other no notably carefree fre Sixties figures, ures among them croon crooner vince hill, poet a and librarian Philip L Larkin, socialite ite Ruth, Lady Fermoy, art histori historian Anthony Blunt and the th 16-year-old hRh Princess Anne on her pony, Common S Sense. The series was finally f won by Common Sense, who ditched Princess Anne for Ruth, Lady Fermoy shortly be before the last episode i d was screened d just in time to gain the viewers’ vote.
AT The start of the new decade, in a bid to inject drama into Love Island, the producers relocated it to Burgh Island, off the South Devon coast.
‘Burgh was best known as the inspiration for Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. We felt this would appeal to a whole new demographic of murder mystery fans,’ recalls 1971 series producer Simon Schama, later to make his name as a Tv historian.
Alas, tragedy was set to strike. By the end of the first week, six of the ten Love Island contestants had been found dead, under mysterious circumstances, and by the end of the second week, three of the remaining four had joined them. This left aristocratic contestant Lord Lucan the clear victor. ‘It’s a huge thrill!’ he exclaimed.