The first winter series of the hit show is one of ITV's most successful shows and is the broadcaster's most viewed programme for audiences aged 16 to 34.

There have been some big changes for the first winter addition of the hit ITV show, including the departure of Caroline Flack and a move to South Africa - but these haven't impacted on youth loyalty to the show too much.

At 9pm every day people up and down the country tune in and social media becomes a sea of live tweets and memes on memorable moments.

But why is the show such a huge hit?

Millions of people are addicted to Winter Love Island already

With Love Island quickly becoming an important part of British popular culture, academics, psychologists and marketing experts are keen to understand why the show has become so popular and powerful.

One academic watching the show closely is Dr Gareth Longstaff, lecturer and researcher in cultural theory at Newcastle University. 

Gareth, whose new book Celebrity and Pornography: Psychoanalysis and the Politics of Self-Representation features a whole chapter on Love Island, has spoken to Mirror Online about why he thinks the show is so successful. 

The Love Island model follows other successful formats in recent years but today’s technology aided society makes the experience very different for both viewers and the cast.

Dr Gareth Longstaff

Big Brother premiered on British television in 2000 and turned contestants like Jade Goody, Nikki Grahame and Pete Bennett into overnight celebrities.

But the big difference is that the new generation of reality stars have the power of social media at their fingertips, which can result in huge financial success or equally, their demise.

Last year’s contestants have landed presenting jobs, clothing lines, promotional deals and extensive brand partnerships - making taking part on the show a clear lucrative opportunity.

Gareth said: “If you look at those early contestants on Big Brother, they’re utterly naive, there's no social media so they’re going into the house and they’re just kind of naively becoming everyday, extraordinary yet ordinary individuals who tabloids pick up on.

“We’ve moved on from that. 20 years down the line, all of the people who go on to Love Island are very savvy. They're using their Instagrams to make themselves insta-famous and to earn money on their good looks, their body or their opinions.”  

Viewers are loyal to the series and Gareth thinks this is because they can relate to the high levels of anxiety expressed by the islanders.

Islanders complete in a number of tasks each week

Both the men and women in the villa are frequently overwhelmed with worry thanks to body insecurities, the grim realities of rejection and the frequent fear of recouplings.

Gareth says: “Love Island seems to capture a very contemporary aspect of how we feel desire but also how we feel anxiety connected to that desire.”

He adds: “It’s a zeitgeist, a particular type of show which just seems to capture in that space, place and time, the sort of mood of a broad collective of people.”

Love Island is significantly popular with young audiences; the same group of people who engage heavily on social media and are often looking for love themselves. 

For Gareth, Love Island comes across as especially relatable to millennial audiences. He says: “I think it connects to a hell of a lot of the anxieties and pressures that young people feel and experience around relationships, mood and aspirations”. 

“Some of the pressures, anxieties and insecurities that those contestants feel, the idea that you’re performing this very aspirational, beautiful, powerful identity of, ‘oh my God, you’re beautiful. Oh my God, you’re wealthy’ but actually beneath the facade, you’re crumbling. Beneath it all is a level of insecurity.”

New arrivals often cause drama in the villa

Love Island is an open “articulation of anxiety” according to Gareth and he praises the show for this reason. 

Gareth adds: “I think for a popular show, to have that kind of impact and to allow young people to talk about anxieties and mental health, bodies and desires, probably correlates to the popularity of it and how it seems to connect.”

Lecturing young people from different walks of life and being an academic role model helps Gareth to see this on a daily basis. 

He told the Mirror Online: “I’ve seen a huge upturn and upsurge in students with mental health problems but also their willingness to talk openly about it.”

Another reason why reality television in general is popular is because it allows escapism says Gareth. 

He compared Love Island to another phenomenon in the reality television genre, Keeping up with the Kardashians, which has been successful globally for 13 years and counting.

Recouplings can be savage

“It’s kind of a Kardashians thing” he says, “This unattainable world that they can’t reach or they can't get to so it becomes a way of switching off or fantasising about the what-ifs”.

Viewers also enjoy Love Island thanks to its open display of sexuality and for some - the “unattainable” and the “what-if” is a romantic relationship of their own. 

Love Island is full of raunchy challenges that involve lap dances, snogging and other seductive dares and the villa also houses the infamous Hideaway room where contestants are invited to engage in private and intimate acts away from the other cast members. 

Scenes of the couples getting up close and personal are often aired during the main show and some contestants have admitted to having sex in front of the cameras. 

Millions of us are already hooked

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Winter Love Island

Gareth told us: “I think that there’s a very intriguing level of eroticism and fairly obvious sexuality. Whether or not that literally turns people on or symbolically turns them on, it keeps them hooked.” 

The academic added: “It’s fancying these people, it’s identifying with these people and desiring them in such a way that you know something is coming. You’re going to get those gratifying shots of the erotic situations which then keeps you coming back for more.”