Love Island winner Amber Davies says the show is more ruthless than ever and stars have no chance of romance

AS Love Island’s most successful former contestant, Amber Davies knows more than anyone about the show’s passport to fame and fortune.

Now a West End star, she shot to fame when she won the reality TV show alongside Kem Cetinay four years ago and has since landed several high-profile stage roles and now a BBC drama.

But Amber, 24, says this year’s series is barely recognisable from the show she took part in, adding that it is more ruthless than ever as hopefuls drift in and out in a relentless cycle.

And she quips: “They’re far more likely to land a fashion deal than find love.”

She continues: “I’ve loved the series, and I will never criticise the show. It gave me so many opportunities and it started my career, but I feel like this year people are in and out of it a lot quicker.

“I think they recognised that it became a bit predictable and wanted to spice things up a little bit and I think it’s worked — but it is cut-throat for the contestants.

“They toned down the sex a few years back, and they took away the smoking area, which was a great move. It’s important that this is a show on at 9pm, it needs to be more about drama and entertainment, gossip and arguments.

“Now it’s like, ‘If you can’t find love, or you’re not liked by the public, you’re off’. There is no bedding-in period, you have to shine or leave.”


She adds: “It’s still such a great opportunity to get on the show. I’ve seen criticism online, ‘Oh, she’s only in there for a fashion deal, he’s only in there to get a range with Boohoo’, but I just think, ‘Good on ya’.

“It’s probably much more likely than a relationship, to be honest.

“Personally I don’t fancy any of the blokes this year, but also I’m constantly watching as a former contestant, so I’m always thinking of it in a slightly different way.

“But the truth is now they all look the same, and social media has caused that in recent years. There is a certain look people think they have to meet, and a way the boys think they have to dress, and girls think they have to dress.

“When I was on there was more variety. People all looked different, and that was only four years ago, but things have changed even in that time. Now everybody has to conform to a certain look, or at least thinks they do.”

Like many Love Islanders, Amber’s screen romance failed to flourish after the show. But it did prove to be a springboard to a long-term career as a performer.

"She has now also rekindled her romance with boyfriend Nick Kyriacou after they briefly split this year.

Having studied acting at stage school, she landed her breakthrough West End role in Dolly Parton’s musical 9 to 5, winning critical acclaim, before securing a part in upcoming musical Bring It On, a spin-off from a series of cheerleading films.

The delayed production is now set to open later this year, with Amber filling the time between now and then with a new role in CBBC production Almost Never — a children’s drama about a boyband bidding to hit the big time.

And her continued success away from Love Island has given her the confidence to put two fingers up at critics and online trolls, having developed “a very thick skin”.

She says: “I used to agonise over my appearance and feel like I had to be the very best I could at all times, but now I’ve gone through a bit of a flip and I just don’t. I think Covid helped me rethink everything because everything was very real.

“I’ve bought my own house at the age of 23, I have a gorgeous dog, I have a gorgeous car. I really don’t care if somebody goes online to say something negative or tell me my a** is flat.

“I also got with my boyfriend Nick last year. I was happy in my relationship and I felt like I had no one to impress. I’m happy in my own skin.

“My family think I’m beautiful, my friends think I’m beautiful, my boyfriend thinks I’m beautiful — that’s all that really matters to me.

“But I am very thick-skinned and I really don’t care enough. I don’t know whether that’s come from having a big social media profile over four years, but now I’m kind of numb to the haters.”

Amber is now desperate to get back on the West End stage after almost 18 months of Covid lockdowns left the industry on the brink of collapse.

And she can barely hide her anger and frustration after Andrew Lloyd Webber was forced to shut down his new production of Cinderella this week before its opening night — the latest tragic casualty of the pandemic as testing and “pinging” forces cast members to self-isolate.

She adds: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I am sick of it. “There is one rule for sport and one rule for us and it is not fair at all. We are on our knees, we are begging.

“When the Euros were on, one of the players got Covid and a couple had to isolate but all the others could carry on, whereas with us, one person goes down and we’re forced to close. Why should we be any different?

“I find it so gut-wrenching because it is such an unfair playing field, I am sick of it. The musical theatre industry is such a huge part of society, from the cab drivers to the restaurants, even hotels, trains, coaches, laundry, but also all the creators, the actors on stage.

Lockdown was hard. It was like Love Island — people forced together 24/7 with no escape.

“People can’t live, it can’t survive, it is ridiculous. We need some serious help, we need someone to listen to us. Lockdown was like Love Island – with no escape.

“We have proved theatres can be a safe place to be, but it is clearly not a priority for the Government and I don’t think they know the severity of the effect it is having.

“We are planning to be open again in December for Bring It On, but there are ways around it.

“My sister (Jade) just got the lead in a panto and my brother-in-law (Luke Newton) plays Colin in Bridgerton.

“They’ve just had to come to a halt too, the whole industry has been hit. But there are ways to make it work, with bubbles within casts and having people to step in. We are finding solutions.”

Until then, Amber is enjoying her latest role in Almost Never, with JLS singer Aston Merrygold.

She says: “It’s perfect for kids, but it’s funny too, something for all the family, and the cast are great to work with.”

Things are good away from work too. She adds: “At home, I’m content and happy. I’m back with Nick and we’re taking it slowly and just enjoying our time together after being apart.

“Lockdown was hard. It was like Love Island — people forced together 24/7 with no escape. It was like a mini Love Island at home.

“But this is really my first proper relationship living with someone, so I’m still coming to terms with the whole compromising and all that bulls***.

“It’s hard, and there are more pressures than ever.

“With things like dating apps and social media, relationships almost look and feel like something you can snap up in an instant and we’re always comparing ourselves to everyone else, but it takes hard work.

“We’re taking it slowly, and enjoying ourselves. That’s all you can do.”

  • Almost Never is on now, on CBBC and BBC iPlayer.

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