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Love Island crowns winners on summer return

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Millie Court and Liam Reardon have been crowned winners of Love Island 2021 at the end of the dating programme’s first series for 18 months.

The pair beat three other couples to the the hit ITV2 show’s £50,000 prize.

Millie, a fashion buyer’s assistant from Essex, had considered splitting from Welsh bricklayer Liam after he was unfaithful during Casa Amor week, but the pair reunited to become exclusive.

This series has been broadcast from its Spanish villa for almost two months.

It is the first series since the programme made its winter debut just before Covid hit in early 2020.

The other couples to make it to the final were Chloe Burrows and Toby Aromolaran; Faye Winter and Teddy Soares; and Kaz Kamwi and Tyler Cruickshank.

By Alex Taylor, entertainment reporter

Faye’s outburst – The fallout from the Casa Amor week is always dramatic, but this year proved especially volatile. Faye’s aggressive reaction to a clip, shown without full context to imply her partner Teddy had cheated on her, sparked record complaints. Some viewers alleged manipulation from producers, arguing that Faye’s self-professed trust issues had been exploited for dramatic effect.Hugo’s loveless summer – Ahead of the series, PE teacher Hugo prompted debate as Love Island’s first physically disabled contestant, but once inside the villa it was his admission that he did not like “fake” women that turned heads. The comments offended a number of islanders, eventually causing Hugo to tearfully apologise. His search for love didn’t improve, with social media recoiling in horror when he shouted “job done” seconds after kissing Amy. All is forgiven? – All the men except side Jake and Teddy cheated on their partners during their week-long stay in the Casa Amor villa. You wouldn’t have known it approaching the final, however, as Millie forgave Liam, just as Kaz (eventually) gave Tyler another chance. Who says romance is dead?Heartbreak for Jiberty – Jake and Liberty appeared to be one of the season’s strongest couples, but their spark eventually fizzled out when Liberty began to get “the ick” and doubt Jake’s authenticity towards her. The pair split in dramatic fashion before amicably agreeing to leave the villa together on Friday after their final date – much to the disbelief of their fellow islanders.Laura Whitmore’s “multitasking” struggle – Love Island’s host opened up about the challenge of fronting the show as a new mother in a pandemic. The presenter, who has been criticised by some for her infrequent appearances, opened up to fans on Instagram on Monday. “To get this far hasn’t been easy,” she wrote. “The last few months have been full on. Getting through fronting the biggest show on the telly means you are faced with daily pressures on and off tv, filming and flying during Covid, media intrusion, being a mother, breastfeeding exclusively, pcr tests, allowing your body to heal, getting that pelvic floor back (she ain’t back quite yet!), constant judgement, looking after your mental health… Just surviving each day on a manic schedule is tough.”

Whitmore replaced Caroline Flack, who took her own life last February.

In recent years, the deaths of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, although not directly linked to the show, have also prompted debate about mental health and the treatment of TV personalities.

ITV published revised duty-of-care protocols for this year’s contestants, who will be offered “comprehensive psychological support” and a “proactive aftercare package” on their return from Majorca.

However, some of Love Island’s staple dramatic twists have proved highly controversial this year.

The sight of Faye aggressively confronting Teddy after being shown footage of him from flirting during Casa Amor week prompted record audience complaints to broadcast regulator Ofcom.

That followed thousands of complaints that July’s Casa Amor postcard episode was manipulative toward the female islanders.

The show has nevertheless remained a significant commercial asset for ITV with its predominantly young and female audience particularly valuable to advertisers.

Islanders, who often build large online followings, have lucrative opportunities to make millions from social media and brand deals on leaving the villa.

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