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With two contestants from Oxfordshire (@sharongaffka and @chloe_burrows), we’ll be considering it our duty to be glued to the screen for the next few weeks. It’s back, it’s much anticipated and we can’t wait.

When did your summer officially start? 28th June or 11th? Guess it depends if you prefer Love Island or the Euros (and that’s not to suggest it couldn’t be both). Forget foreign travel this year, we’re planning to be sofa-bound for the duration of this staycation.

Unlike football which can be teeth-gnashingly boring (England/Scotland anyone? It’s true, don’t @me) Love Island is guaranteed entertainment, not least because – much as it is touted as a reality show – the reality is this is entertainment; we are the Romans and they are the gladiators, in the ring for our amusement. And, if that sounds harsh it isn’t meant to. The mental health protocols have been ramped up this year, which is of primary importance. If we can have faith that the updated psychological support has been rigorously managed then, judging from the year-round stream of emails we receive from PRs promoting past contestants modelling careers, brand partnerships, tv opportunities and all-round influencing capacity, appearing on Love Island is a viable career move. ITV2 and ITVBe shows are populated by past contestants and just look at good ol’Dr Alex; doing alright with his 1.9M followers and taking on the title of Youth Ambassador for Mental Health whilst working alongside ITV in their campaign to Get Britain Talking.

Once your eyes become accustomed to the sheer volume of butt-cheeks and tanned, toned flesh on casual display, you can’t fail to be entranced and intrigued by watching the interaction at play. Female friendships are usually championed (‘girl code’) and male vulnerability is explored. Any form of kindness is appreciated and rewarded, and (usually) any behaviour less than decent will be called out and judged. In 2018 the notorious Adam Collard’s behaviour brought the concept of gaslighting into the mainstream, with Women’s Aid using the relationship between him and (well most of the female contestants but particularly) Rosie Williams as a hook to highlight ‘clear warning signs’ of domestic abuse. Twitter was up in arms, and even his family issued a tweet decrying his behaviour. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny its influence and its ability to make vital conversations happen.

But enough, that’s not the point, is it? The point is beef, shade, bantz, T – the point is GOSSIP. How dearly we missed it last summer, arguably the year in which we never needed communal virtual water-cooler tv more. Love it or hate it, Love Island is Event TV, dominating the scurrilous sidebars and infusing social media with memes, tropes, and a whole new vocabulary: pied, melts, grafting, mugging and mug-off, Factor 50 – anyone who loves language is doing themselves a massive disservice if they elect to scorn what is arguably the most vibrant linguistic-coinage factory beamed into our living rooms night after night.

Of course, it is questionable, but, in the words of many a contestant whose ‘head has been turned’ by a new arrival, ‘at the end of the day’ I’m a ‘loyal’ fan and ‘it is what it is’. And it’s a right ‘sort’*.

*sort – Love Island vernacular meaning physically attractive


Corinne Bailey Rae
Wed 1 May 2024

Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On snap-shotted the summer of 2006. Her most recent release, Black Rainbows came out 2023 and it is obvious to hear how much she is relishing the full range of her unique voice and, as I was to discover when we spoke, her extraordinarily lyrical vocabulary.

Paul Foot 3 wi4hf6
Tue 2 Apr 2024

Award-winning quirky and alternative comedian Paul Foot is returning to Oxford this month with his new show, Dissolve which is set to be his most vulnerable and honest yet. We got in touch to find out what we can expect from his performance at Oxford’s New Theatre, as well as – in very Paul Foot fashion – getting side-tracked by King  Tutankhamen, and what  Jesus might have  achieved if  he'd been a plumber...

Katie otb8tw
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This month, Katie Melua will be in Oxford, helping to launch the Oxford Literary Festival’s new Programme in Georgian Literature and Culture.

Namvula BBC Music nuyc98
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Described as having a diasporic upbringing, singer-songwriter Namvula is also a gifted photographer and was co-founder of Film Africa, a London-based celebration of African cinema and culture. She now lives in Oxford where she will be performing later this month at The North Wall.