Alex Green, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Laura Whitmore says she cannot wait to meet the Love Island contestants ahead of the series launch on Monday night.
This year’s series sees Whitmore return as host and it will be the first time the ITV programme has aired since last year’s summer series was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Eleven islanders will enter the Mallorcan villa during the launch episode, including a semi-professional footballer, a lettings manager and the show’s first contestant with a physical disability.
According to bookmakers Coral, footballer Toby Aromolaran and civil servant Sharon Gaffka are favourites to end up in the winning couple, both with odds of 3-1.
Whitmore said she was most excited about the first day of filming.
“I meet all the islanders the way everyone else meets all the islanders,” she said.
“So when they come into the villa and they do the line-up, that’s the first time I’m meeting all of them as well.
“So I’m looking forward to that. It’s so funny because you change your opinion so much. You meet someone and you go, ‘Oh, they’re my favourite’.
“And then I’ll have a different favourite by the next week. The first day, that’s the big day.
“And I love trying to guess who I think they’ll choose. I never get it right.”
Former MTV presenter Whitmore presented the winter Love Island series from South Africa in January 2020 and is yet to host the programme from Mallorca, which the UK government is adding to its quarantine-free travel list.
She said: “I am so excited to be back hosting. It’s been a year where I think we all need a bit more love and fun in our lives and I think everyone is ready for Love Island to be back – myself included.
“I’m really excited about seeing the villa. I’ve never seen the villa in Mallorca, so I’ll probably be there a little bit fangirling at the villa. It’s almost like a person to me.
“So I need to remember that I’m there doing a job, not just a fangirl. I haven’t met any of the islanders yet but I’ve heard from the people behind the scenes that they are an incredible cast – it’s really exciting.”
ITV has published duty of care protocols which include an offer of “a minimum of eight therapy sessions” for contestants on their return home from appearing in the series.
They will also receive training on the impact of social media and “how to handle potential negativity”, as well as training on financial management.
The new series starts on June 28th at 9pm and airs on ITV2 and Virgin Media One.