Love Island winter launch talking points, from Maya Jama’s debut to a new footballer bombshell

It might be cold here in the UK, but Love Island is officially back with a new cohort of singles travelling to South Africa for a winter of fun.

The ITV2 dating show returned on Monday night (16 January) for its first winter edition since the pre-pandemic 2020 series.

Taking over hosting duties from Laura Whitmore was Maya Jama who made quite the impression on viewers in her debut.

The first episode introduced this year’s initial line-up of islanders – including Will, a TikTok-famous farmer, Olivia, a ring girl and actor, and Ron, the show’s first partially sighted contestant.

With the girls getting first pick, the 10 islanders were eventually paired off into five couples – but it’s still early days and more than a few have already set their sights on someone new.

Monday’s episode (16 January) also came with a twist.

The public had been voting on who they want to be the first “bombshell” to enter the villa: semi-pro footballer Tom Clare or business development executive Ellie Spence.

Below you can find six of the episode’s major talking points...

 (ITV)
(ITV)

Haris has a very specific type of girl in mind

The hit ITV2 reality series pretty much ushered in the age of the “ick” – a term used to describe a typically superifical quality in someone that you find unattractive – but even for Love Island, Haris’s personal tastes are pretty niche.

The TV salesman from Doncaster made it clear that he wants his future girlfriend to have size five feet or smaller. For Europeans out there, that’s equivalent to a 38. How peculiar... His admission raised more than a few eyebrows among viewers on Twitter. Haris seems to have shot himself in his own foot, however, after Maya Jama informs the group that she’s a size six and a half. Tough luck.

Olivia was unafraid to ruffle feathers

Viewers got their first taste of drama thanks to Olivia. The ring girl and actor – who, among other credits, can be seen in Daniel Craig’s No Time To Die – definitely didn’t go for the easy option when it came to choosing her partner.

Both Haris and Will stepped forward for Olivia when she entered the villa, but she only had eyes for Kai despite the fact he was already coupled up with Anna-May. The pairing didn’t last long, however, with Kai soon declaring his interest in Tanyel. Suddenly without a partner, Olivia was left with Will who, as she later told the girls, she is mostly interested in as a friend. Instead, she has her eye on Haris, who is coupled up with Anna-May. Trouble may very well be brewing!

Maya Jama is a hit

Reviews of the series so far have been middling at best (aren’t they always for the first episode? Give it a chance, people) but one thing everyone can agree on is that Maya Jama is a perfect host.

 (ITV)
(ITV)

“Is Maya Jama allowed to win?” questioned one viewer, with another adding: “Just give Maya Jama the 50k now.” Someone else joked: “So basically we are all in agreement Maya Jama has won this Love Island series...” You can find out everything we know about Love Island’s new host here.

ITV hit with technical glitches

It’s not a highly anticipated episode of a hit series without a few technical glitches along the way – and Love Island suffered more than its fair share.

Midway through the braodcast, the screen turned to black on multiple occassions, even once flashing green – leaving many viewers to question whether it was a network issue or a problem with their own TV. It turns out the latter was true, so at least you can rest assured that you weren’t the only one who missed out on whatever chirpsing went down between Kai and Tanyel.

 (ITV)
(ITV)

Team Shaq and Tanya has formed

Of course, it’s early days but allegiances have begun to form – and if first impressions are anything to go by, it looks like Love Island fans are hoping Shaq and Tanya make it to the end.

Shaq was the only boy to step forward for Tanya, who was the first girl to enter the villa – and it seems he made the right choice, with the pair appearing to have genuine chemistry, something that is in short supply in this Love Island villa... for now, at least.

Tom is ready to stir the pot

The votes are in – and it’s Tom Clare who is the first bombshell to enter the villa. Of course, this being Love Island, the revelation was only announced approximately 90 seconds before the episode ended, meaning that we got only got a mere glimpse of the new bombshell as he entered the villa.

The 23-year-old footballer plays for non-league Macclesfield DC, and has made it no secret that he is happy to make a play for whichever girl he likes – no matter who she’s coupled up with. Given he’s a self-confessed fan of blondes, Ron – who is looking lovey-dovey with Lana – better watch out.

 (ITV)
(ITV)

Behind the scenes, another major change has happened, as the contestants have been asked for the first time to make their accounts “dormant” while they appear on the show.

ITV hopes the measure will help protect the contestants’ mental health. Usually, friends and family of the islanders run their accounts while they’re away.

Follow for updates from the opening episode here...

Love Island returns for winter edition

15:57 , Isobel Lewis

Yes, for the second time in the last 12 months, it’s Love Island launch day!

The show is back on our screens at 9pm tonight and we’ll be giving you all the updates on what to expect from this series in the villa.

Meet this year’s islanders

16:19 , Isobel Lewis

As we speak, a new bunch of hot young things are settling into the villa and preparing to ward of the new year blues with some South African sun. No, I’m not at all jealous...

Among them, you’ll find a contestant with vitiligo, a farmer with more than one million followers on TikTok, and the show’s first partially sighted islander.

Find out more about the cast below...

Winter Love Island cast announced, including first ever partially sighted star

Who is new Love Islander host Maya Jama?

17:00 , Isobel Lewis

There’s a new woman in charge in the villa this year as Maya Jama takes over as Love Island host.

The presenter, who has previously fronted shows such as Don’t Hate The Playaz, Glow Up and The Circle, takes over from Laura Whitmore for this year’s series in South Africa.

You can find out more about Jama here...

Maya Jama, the effervescent star bringing a fresh burst of sun to Love Island

When was the first winter series of Love Island?

17:30 , Isobel Lewis

Love Island is back in South Africa this January for a winter edition of the ITV2 dating show.

The first ever winter series took place in a pre-pandemic world of January 2020, wrapping up on 23 February, just one month before the UK would go into lockdown for the first time.

While the first winter series was meant to be one of two series to air that in 2020, Covid-19 meant that the show did not air that summer and returned 18 months later in summer 2021.

The series was also filmed in South Africa and won by Paige Turley and Finn Tapp, who are still together nearly three years later.

Winter Love Island brings in new social media rules

18:00 , Isobel Lewis

There’s a few changes going on with this series of Love Island, including rules regarding the contestants’ social media accounts.

Usually, when the contestants jet off and say goodbye to their phones, their accounts are left in the hands of their friends and family to drum up support.

However, for the first time the islanders have been asked to leave their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Twitter accounts “dormant”.

Instead, they will receive “guidance and training around mutually respectful behaviour in relationships”.

Love Island contestants to have social media accounts taken away for first time ever

Every Love Island season, ranked

18:20 , Annabel Nugent

Not all Love Island seasons are created equal. Ahead of the show’s ninth outing, we take a look at which series kept us hooked.

Spoiler alert: Love Island’s first winter edition does not fare well...

Every series of Love Island ranked from worst to best

Say goodbye to Mallorca...

18:35 , Annabel Nugent

Given that it’s January, the sun isn’t exactly shining here – or Spain. This means that producers have had to relocate the villa to sunny South Africa.

Here’s everything we know about the new Love Island villa...

Everything we know about the Winter Love Island villa

How to vote

18:50 , Annabel Nugent

For the first time ever, viewers will be able to vote for the first male or female bombshell to enter the villa.

Ahead of these tough decisions, get to grips with our guide on how to vote.

How to vote on Love Island 2023 using the app

T-minus two hours to go...

19:00 , Annabel Nugent

We’re two hours away from Love Island season nine! Here’s your first look at tonight’s episode...

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Here’s the low-down on all the contestants

19:15 , Annabel Nugent

Time to get familiar with this year’s contestants. Here’s a full list of every islander entering the villa tonight...

Winter Love Island cast announced, including first ever partially sighted star

Maya Jama is ready to enter the villa!

19:33 , Annabel Nugent

Maya Jama will be making her Love Island debut tonight, taking over from previous host Laura Whitmore.

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Meet Olivia Hawkins – the James Bond actor who was also Emma Watson’s body double

19:45 , Annabel Nugent

Film buffs may see a familiar face on tonight’s episode of Love Island.

Joining this year’s line-up is 27-year-old Olivia Hawkins, a ring girl and actor. Olivia has many notable credits to her name, including the James Bond film No Time to Die and the hit Netflix series Top Boy.

Find out what else Olivia has starred in here...

Meet Olivia Hawkins, the Love Island contestant who appeared in No Time to Die

The countdown is on...

20:00 , Annabel Nugent

There is only 60 minutes left until Love Island season nine begins – and we’re plunged into yet another eight weeks of love, drama, and very niche slang.

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Ekin-Su nods to her Love Island stint during her first routine for Dancing on Ice

20:15 , Annabel Nugent

Last summer’s winner Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu has since made her mark on another reality TV series.

Yesterday (15 January), she made her debut as a contestant on Dancing on Ice with a performance to “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Love Island fans noticed that her performance included a hilarious nod to her time on the dating programme.

Dancing on Ice viewers ‘obsessed’ with Ekin-Su’s nod to Love Island in routine

This isn’t the first winter edition – though, you’ve probably forgotten the first one

20:30 , Annabel Nugent

This isn’t the first time that Love Island has aired a winter edition of the series.

In 2020, Laura Whitmore presented season six, which also took place in Cape Town and was won by Paige and Finn.

You’d be forgiven for forgetting the season, which was ultimately pretty unmemorable. Here’s hoping that season nine is more entertaining!

Finn and Paige on series six of ‘Love Island' (ITV)
Finn and Paige on series six of ‘Love Island' (ITV)

Life After Love Island...

20:45 , Annabel Nugent

After tomorrow’s episode of Love Island, Channel 4 will be airing a documentary titled Life After Love Island, which explores what happens to contestants once they leave the show.

In it, past islanders will open up about what it was like to exit the villa and enter their news lives of fame and sponsorships.

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T-minus five minutes

20:55 , Annabel Nugent

Here we go... five minutes until Love Island begins and a whole new cohort of sexy singletons take to the villa to find love. Or at the very least, fame.

And so it begins...

20:59 , Annabel Nugent

And we’re off to South Africa!

First look at Maya Jama as host

21:02 , Annabel Nugent

Not everyone is keen on Love Island but turns out everyone is keen on Maya Jama...

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Is there any sound more comforting than Iain Stirling’s voice?

21:04 , Annabel Nugent

Everyone’s favourite Scot is back commentating.

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Here comes Shaq...

21:06 , Annabel Nugent

“Until I’m in a relationship, my options are always open... I can’t let my girlfriend stop me from finding my wife”

Who is Love Island star Shaq Muhammad? Meet the contestant

Meet Haris

21:07 , Annabel Nugent

“Feet... they can’t be over size five”

Alright, so Haris definitely has some specific requirements for his future girlfriend...

Who is Love Island star Haris Namani? Meet the TV salesman from Doncaster

Will the farmer

21:09 , Annabel Nugent

Who is Love Island’s Will Young? Meet the TikTok sensation making farming cool

Ron is a ‘diamond in the rough,’ says Ron

21:13 , Annabel Nugent

Love Island has cast their first ever partially sighted contestant in Ron.

Who is Ron Hall? Meet Love Island’s first ever partially sighted contestant

That’s a very specific type, I must say

21:15 , Annabel Nugent

I know we’ve moved on to Kai, but I’m still stuck on Haris saying his ideal girlfriend won’t have feet above a size five... Huh? (That’s 38 for the Europeans out there)

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Maya Jama is off the cards for Ron then

21:16 , Annabel Nugent

Ron’s type rules out Maya Jama then, who is a size six and a half in shoes...

I bet he’s regretting that now

The first female contestant has arrived

21:17 , Annabel Nugent

And the first girl is... Tanya who has been single for a year and a half

Everything you need to know about Tanya on Love Island

The boys stepping up for Tanya are...

21:19 , Annabel Nugent

Of course, there is an ad break

‘Y’alright?'

21:22 , Annabel Nugent

Is there another way of greeting someone besides “y’alright?” These Love Island boys don’t seem to think so

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Who will step up for Tanya?

21:23 , Annabel Nugent

And the anxiety is already setting in...

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Shaq and Tanya!

21:24 , Annabel Nugent

Shaq has stepped forward for Tanya!

“Just look at her,” he says. AW!

21:25 , Annabel Nugent

Maya Jama said it first: Shaq and Tanya look very, very good together.

Anna-May Robey

21:27 , Annabel Nugent

And it’s time for the second girl to arrive...

Anna-May says she loves a good snog – and maybe a blonde.

Who is Love Island’s Anna-May Robey? Meet the Swansea native with the hilarious ‘ick’

Anna-May has a pick of three

21:28 , Annabel Nugent

Will, Haris, and Kai have all stepped up for Anna-May

And our second Love Island couple of the series is...

21:28 , Annabel Nugent

Anna-May and Kai!

Here’s... Lana

21:30 , Annabel Nugent

Bilingual make-up artist Lana Jenkins is the third girl to enter the villa

Who is Love Island’s Lana Jenkins? Meet make-up artist who used to date Owen Warner

Who’s stepping up for Lana?

21:31 , Annabel Nugent

Will has stepped forward for the first time, while Ron likes the look of “little rocket” Lana...

And the third couple is...

21:33 , Annabel Nugent

Lana and Ron!

Who is Olivia and what has she starred in?

21:34 , Annabel Nugent

Film buffs might’ve seen Olivia before – in a James Bond movie perhaps?

Meet Olivia Hawkins, the Love Island contestant who appeared in No Time to Die

Who will Olivia pick?

21:36 , Annabel Nugent

Both Haris and Will stepped forward for Olivia, with Will even recognising the islander as a ring girl.

Who, oh who will she pick?

GASP!

21:36 , Annabel Nugent

It’s the first upset of the season with Olivia choosing to steal Kai and leaving Anna-May with no choice but to take a seat on the lonely sofa...

Well, someone’s got to start the drama...

21:38 , Annabel Nugent

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Who is Tanyel?

21:39 , Annabel Nugent

And the final girl to enter the villa is Tanyel!

Meet Love Island star Tanyel Revan

Who will Tanyel choose?

21:39 , Annabel Nugent

Haris, Will, and Kai have all steped forward for Tanyel – leaving Olivia looking a little out of sorts... eek!

Kai is one popular boy...

21:41 , Annabel Nugent

Tanyel has opted for Kai to make our final couple of Love Island!

21:41 , Annabel Nugent

Our remaining couples of the series are Haris and Anna-May, leaving Olivia coupled up with Will.

Our five couples are...

21:42 , Annabel Nugent

Lana and Ron

Anna-May and Haris

Tanya and Shaq

Olivia and Will

Tanyel and Kai

And we’re back with the ad breaks...

21:46 , Annabel Nugent

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This is the ‘new’ villa?

21:48 , Annabel Nugent

As the islanders explore the new villa (which looks exactly the same), you can too...

Everything we know about the Winter Love Island villa

Eurgh

21:50 , Annabel Nugent

And that’s the first of many times we’ll hear the dreaded phrase “cheeky chappy”...

Agreed

21:52 , Annabel Nugent

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Got sheep on the brain

21:55 , Annabel Nugent

Will misheard “sheet” for “sheep” – he must be missing the farm!

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Olivia and Kai gave us our first taste of drama

21:58 , Annabel Nugent

Only minutes after Olivia chose to steal Kai from Anna-May did the in-demand islander step forward for Tanyel who proceeded to leave Olivia and choose him.

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There you have it!

22:00 , Annabel Nugent

Iain Stirling has given us our first pun of the season... Kai caramba!

Olivia has a secret!

22:01 , Annabel Nugent

Olivia told Lana that she fancies Haris, who is currently coupled up with Anna-May.

Lana’s advice? Chat to him sooner rather than later to avoid upsetting Anna-May! Hard agree.

Will is a laugh!

22:02 , Annabel Nugent

All the girls can agree on one thing: Will is hilarious! Surprisngly so, apparently.

It’s early days

22:04 , Annabel Nugent

Those already shipping Tanya and Shaq will be disappointed to hear Shaq also has his eye on Tanyel...

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Done playing games?

22:06 , Annabel Nugent

Ron and Lana agree that playing games is no fun... Hrmm, let’s see what happens when Casa Amor rolls around.

What is going on?

22:08 , Annabel Nugent

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Seriously...

22:11 , Annabel Nugent

Everyone gets nervous – even Love Island stars

22:12 , Annabel Nugent

I can’t look away...

Remember, it's not set in stone

22:14 , Annabel Nugent

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Oh no

22:18 , Annabel Nugent

Will has already found himself in the “friend-zone” with Olivia – who seems more interested in Haris.

Does age difference matter?

22:19 , Annabel Nugent

Olivia fancies Haris, but has some reservations about their six-year age gap. She’s 21 and he’s 27.

‘Hi everyone!'

22:21 , Annabel Nugent

Here comes trouble! AKA Maya Jama looking absolutely incredible.

Maya breaks the news...

22:26 , Annabel Nugent

Ah, the first firepit huddle of the season – it can only mean one thing.

Your votes are in!

22:27 , Annabel Nugent

The public have been voting on who will be the first bombshell to enter the villa – and that’s Tom!

Here comes Tom!

22:29 , Annabel Nugent

Tom appears to have an evil masterplan from the way he’s rubbing his palms together on his way into the villa...

I suggest you get grafting!

22:30 , Annabel Nugent

In 24 hours, Tom will have the chance to couple up with a girl of his choice, leaving one of the boys single – and possibly eliminated?

Who’s Tom? Meet the Macclesfield FC footballer

22:33 , Annabel Nugent

‘Sort it out!'

22:39 , Annabel Nugent

Love Island viewers were less than impressed by the many glitches that plagued tonight’s episode.

There you have it...

22:45 , Roisin O'Connor

That’s the first episode of Love Island season nine, done and dusted.

One thing everyone can agree on: Maya Jama is a hit as the new host.

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