Why this tiny, bedside heart represents consent on Love Island

Why this tiny, bedside heart represents consent on Love Island

In any dating show in 2023, Consent remains a hot topic.

It’s why Love Island introduced a Consent Heart to its Villa bedroom.

Executive Producer Alex Mavroidakis from ITV Studios Australia tells TV Tonight, “We are a show where people sleep in the same bed together. Once the sheets are pulled over, you can’t see what’s going on underneath.

“So we have created an Australian-only invention called the Consent Heart. On the bedside everyone has a small button. When the bedroom is dark, if you push that button, your side of the heart will light up but only in infrared. It’s not seen in the bedroom. Only if both buttons are pushed, and if the heart is complete in infrared, are you allowed to kiss, touch, do everything with each other.

“If anyone starts kissing or touching each other in bed, producers will physically walk into the bedroom and tell them to switch their Consent Heart on,” he explains.

“Only at that point are they both consenting adults and we leave them alone. That is something we are so red hot on, and we remind them of it every single day. Any intimacy whatsoever, must be mutual consent.”

While drama production has intimacy co-ordinators for the safety of actors, in Reality TV no role exists. Two cast members were recently fired from Below Deck Down Under, produced by 51 Minds Entertainment, following incidents of inappropriate behaviour involving sexual consent. Fans praised the way Capt. Jason Chambers and staff handled both incidents.

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Mavroidakis, who also produces I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, and was previously helming Big Brother, takes Duty of Care seriously and acknowledges changing times.

“Other shows, and I’m not going to name them, want drunk content. But we limit our Islanders to two units of alcohol in a 24 hour period. We’re not a drunk show at all. We’re a hot sexy show. Our Islanders barely drink at all. Some of them choose to not drink even one unit. So we’ve never had anyone drunk in the Love Island villa in five years and we never will,” he insists.

“We cannot and will not show nudity on Love Island”

“We cannot and will not show nudity on Love Island. You’ve never seen a nipple or a willy on Love Island and you never will. We can’t show sex on Love Island. Are there cameras that can see into the showers? Yes, there are. They pan away when someone is in the shower on their own, absolutely. We do not film people naked in the shower from the waist down if you’re a male, and we try and pan away if it’s a female from the waist up.

“The cameras are there if two people go into the shower together or someone goes in the shower crying, etc.

“We have some security cameras in the toilet etc, but you literally need a password to go in to see the vision, to which only a handful of us have. That is just as a Duty of Care in case someone goes in there and collapses. We’ve never used a toilet camera shot in any of the shows and I don’t think anyone’s even looked at them. All of the Islanders are told by myself that this is their home. They must be comfortable and if they’re not comfortable in any way shape, or form to let me or any of the other senior producers know, and it will be dealt with.”

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The reality series returns to a villa in Majorca, Spain, for its latest season. This year the show kicks off with the single girls having all the ‘power’ over the single guys, in response to a common trait uncovered across its audition tour.

“We went to five major cities and it became very clear, very quickly, that the girls we were meeting were the most outspoken, forthright,’ I don’t give a shit about anything’ females that we had ever seen. And the boys  that we were particularly interested in were the ones that were really looking for love,” he continues.

“Normally, you get presented with a load of f***boys”

“Normally, you get presented with a load of f***boys and the occasional bloke who is really looking for a relationship, and a whole load of girls who have been cheated on, or spent an entire life dealing with bad boys, and are looking for the ‘one.’

“So that got the wheels turning in our brains to flip this to give the girls all the power in the villa, certainly through the first five or six episodes.

“Being honest, and this is a sweeping generalisation, but girls are more emotional. So if they don’t get picked, you get better telly, or if a boy they stepped forward for doesn’t pick them, you get better reactions. Traditionally boys are more kind of grumpy.. ‘it doesn’t bother me mate,’ that kind of thing.

“We have a cast of very empowered females.”

Auditions took place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth for singles 19-35, but Mavroidakis says the ‘sweet spot’ is around 21 – 29.

“We do have a 29 year old and a 21 year old this season. I’ve always thought if you’ve got a 19 year old girl and a 30 year old bloke it’s probably a bit much, so we try and keep the ages squished together in a kind of mid 20s sweet spot.

“You’ve got to look at it to make sure there is a diversity of looks”

“We’ve probably got the most diverse cast we’ve ever had. We don’t cast in that way but when you put your favourites up on the wall you’ve got to look at it to make sure there is a diversity of looks. There is no point in serving up a cast who all look exactly the same.”

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Nine favourite Sophie Monk also returns as host.

“Sophie was great in series one, but she was a bit rabbit-in-the-headlights. To see the polished, incredible host that she has become today, and I’ve been there for the whole evolution, is just amazing. Sophie just owns this series and is so funny and I barely need to be in her ear anymore. She’s just fabulous.”

While other shows may have racked up marriages and even spawned babies, Love Island trades off its hook-ups, break-ups and humour. But Mavroidakis cites 2022 winners Claudia & Austin and Mitch & Phoebe as still being in relationships.

“We have never pretended to be a social experiment. Farmer Wants a Wife, The Bachelor, they’ve got their own lanes. They are shows very much tuned to love. Love Island is absolutely a show about finding love, but almost more than that it’s pure entertainment. The voiceover does take the piss out of the Islanders and we are completely open with them about that right from day one,” he says.

“There is new twist, a world first twist, coming this year”

He also teases a shake-up to the finale in which the winner must decide whether to split the winnings or keep it for themselves.

“There is new twist, a world first twist, coming this year but I won’t spoil it.”

“This is watched for months and months after it drops.”

Nine is screening episodes first on 9Now, with a screening on Nine before moving to 9GO! That will undoubtedly impact ratings, but Mavroidakis says the audience isn’t necessarily tied to linear broadcast.

“Every producer likes to see a huge number in front of his eyes the next morning. But let’s be honest about the realities of modern content. What we know traditionally from Love Island is that this is watched for months and months after it drops. That is where we get the bulk of our viewers. So we might do a couple of hundred thousand on 9Now on the night, or we might do a couple of hundred thousand on Channel Nine and that will do us very nicely thank you,” he maintains.

“But if you look at the catch up numbers from Love Island last year, or any year frankly, it’s always number one across all the networks.

“Our core audience will watch this show on television, on laptops, at the back of the classroom sneakily watching it on phones, on the bus and on the trains and on TV at the weekend when they’re hungover. We embrace that. We are a very, very bingeable show.”

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So what can viewers expect with this year’s Islanders?

“A lot of mess. They are a very ‘flip floppy bunch’ this year, and without giving any spoilers, it takes them a while to find their ‘one.’ There’s only a couple of couples that find each other early. We have probably the best ‘bombs’ this season -intruders in your language.

“They absolutely turn people’s heads. So if you’re up to episode four or five and you think there’s a couple set for the whole run, don’t get too comfortable, because someone very hot and funny might be about to walk in and steal their girl or boy,” he adds.

“If you like your television dramatic, funny and sexy, then this is the series for you.”

Love Island Australia
6pm AEDT Monday – Thursday on 9Now
This week: Monday – Wed following The Block / My Mum Your Dad on Nine. Thurs 9pm on 9GO!
Next week 8:30pm Mon – Wed, 9pm Thurs on 9GO!
I’ve Got a Text with Josh & Flex 10:15pm Thurs on 9GO!