“Love Island” has become a global sensation with franchises airing around the world.
On Tuesday, the reality dating show that puts a singles in a villa for the summer — or until they get voted off — makes its debut on the Peacock streaming service. The new version of the show, which previously aired on CBS, will feature Iain Stirling, who does the voiceover on the British version, on the Peacock version as well.
Ahead of a new crop of American singles heading into the villa (and to the eventual temptations of casa amor), Stirling hopped on the phone with TheWrap for a deep dive into the franchise, including how he got the gig in the U.K. (episodes of that show are available to stream on Hulu) and what it means to be the narrator of the Peacock series.
Iain Stirling: You’re my first ever American interview!
TheWrap: Wow! What a pleasure! How are you doing?
Iain Stirling: Good today. It’s starting to get very busy because there’s like a two week crossover between American and British ‘Love Island.’ Just about to get into that, so I’m putting on two hats as they say, which is obviously very exciting. But I’m not really used to doing proper work (laughs). … I’m obviously very fortunate.
So, how did you get the original ‘Love Island: U.K.’ gig?
I was chosen to be a television presenter in the U.K. There was a television program in the U.K. called ‘12 Again,’ where celebrities talked about their life [when] they were 12. And I had done the voiceover on that and then a clip of that show got sent to that people at ITV. And they liked it I guess and then they asked me to do ‘Love Island: U.K..’ So there was no audition, I just sort of got it like that.
I read that you were in law school prior to your stand-up career. Did you go to school at the same time or prior to the voiceover for ‘12 Again’?
While I was at law school, I would do stand up comedy. And then while I was in law school, some people from the BBC saw me I guess and offered me this kids TV job. I was still at university so they waited four months or whatever it was so I could graduate. And then, when I graduated, I moved to London, and started the kids TV [gig]. … The ‘Love Island’ gig came about because of that voiceover TV show that I had done…. ‘12 Again,’ on Children’s BBC. I’m sure there are some clips of me talking to like, One Direction when they were probably still about 12 actually.
Your narrations on ‘Love Island’ really seems to get people who wouldn’t typically watch a dating show to keep watching. Do you ever hear from audience members about your contributions to the show and how your role keeps them watching?
It’s sort of quite nice, isn’t it, because people do say nice stuff about the voiceover, which is really lovely. People come to my stand up gigs or whatever, ‘Oh, yeah, we only watch because of your voiceover.’ But then, the thing about that is obviously the voiceover only works because the show is so good. I mean, you can voice over a terrible show, it doesn’t matter. Voiceover doesn’t make a bad show good. Obviously, if it’s really good, people are invested and then that really helps me. So yeah, it’s very flattering, but also, so much work goes into making the show as good as it is. … I really think we should be thanking everybody else really, but I’ll take it, I’m an egomaniac (laughs). So I’ll take it.
Do you come up with commentary by yourself or do you have a team that you work with?
I have a writing team. The team is called Mark. So me and Mark — just a Scottish guy — we write it all together. So me and Mark go into the room once the final edits are ready and just watch the show as any viewer would watch the show, and just start writing jokes and record them. And then, when the executives or bosses and board people say we’re happy with all of those, then we go home and rinse and repeat basically.
Oh wow! I obviously didn’t realize that you had a partner, but that’s great you actually have someone to [bounce] jokes off of as well.
Yeah, otherwise as well I would just be in like a small … cabin and staying for like two months on my own. I think I would go mad (laughs). It’s nice to have my friend.
How did you feel when you first got the call to join the U.S. show? And were you excited to see the difference in contestants [between the British version]? And, of course, do you have predictions for the upcoming season?
When I got the call, obviously, I was over the moon. America is it. … We watch all the awards shows, the presidential elections, America’s it. America’s No. 1, numero uno. So it’s exciting to be involved in a TV show. People go ‘Oh, wow! A TV show in America. Maybe I’ll meet someone and go to the Golden Globes or something.’ It’s very exciting. I am looking forward to the contestants and stuff. I deliberately don’t look at anything until the first episode because I sort of want to watch it as a viewer and then react to [it] how a viewer would react. I’ve not actually seen anything. I do know from some of the pictures, some [contestants] are very, very beautiful people. In Britain they’re beautiful people but again, everything’s bigger in America, right? Going to the next level.
“Loves Island: USA” premieres on Peacock on July 19, with new episodes six nights a week.