Inside Sophie Monk’s return to dating reality TV: ‘I’m a sucker for love’

Sophie Monk on her move from The Bachelorette to Love Island, this time as host.

After three seasons of the popular British reality dating show Love Island, Australia is getting its own version.

Nine announced Love Island Australia for its multichannel 9GO! last year, when Sophie Monk had just finished her journey to find love on Ten’s The Bachelorette. Monk and her relationship with her then-beau Stu Laundy were much talked-about in the press. Therefore, it made perfect sense that Nine wanted her as host of Love Island Australia. After a battle of the networks, Nine came out winner. It secured Monk from Ten as the host of its newest reality TV show.

One would think that Monk might have been over dating reality TV after being in the eye of the media storm during The Bachelorette and in the days after. “Oh, no. I am a sucker for love,” Monk told Mediaweek, without a moment of hesitation. “I am just happy I am on the other side this time. I will just kick back with a cocktail and watch it like you guys do.

Nine’s 2018 Love Island cast

“I have always done everything publicly so it was all right. It’s all settled down now. It’s fine.”

The decision to produce a local version of Love Island was made after the success Nine had with the UK edition on its streaming service 9Now. “The UK version has been one of our most-binged shows ever,” Nine’s group content strategy director Lizzie Young said at the network’s upfront last year. The broadcaster hopes that the show will help the network “reach the harder-to-get younger demographics”.

On the night before she had to fly out to Spain to begin shooting for Love Island, Monk was at Nine’s midyear showcase event held at the Twitter HQ in Sydney. There she revealed that the show had a 24-hour turnaround. “The editors will be working through the night, that’s for sure,” she told Mediaweek, a few hours before her flight to Spain. “This is as close to live as possible, because there is a voting system involved. It’s interactive with the audience and social media.”

Sophie Monk on-stage with Richard Wilkins at Nine’s mid-year showcase event

The show is being produced by ITV Studios Australia for Nine. Love Island Australia will be “very similar” to the original version. It starts off with a group of contestants entering a luxury villa, where they are isolated from the outside world and are constantly under video surveillance. To survive in the villa, the contestants must couple up with another Islander – as they are called on the show. Throughout the series they are given the option to re-couple by swapping or changing their current partners, or remain loyal. Any Islander who remains single at the end of this process is “dumped” from the program. Audiences can have a say about who they want eliminated, who their favourite couple is or which couple they think is the most compatible. The winning couple gets the prize money, which in the UK edition is £50,000. The sum for the local version hasn’t been disclosed yet. “I love how it’s so glossy and hot. Everyone is very attractive, clearly. Initially it is about the looks, but then it ends up being about love,” Monk said.

Speaking about the decision to air it on 9GO! rather than the primary channel, Monk said: “It’s edgier than normal TV, so it’s best for it not to be on primetime. Digital is also blowing up so it’s a really clever move.”

Monk will be in Spain for two months shooting for Love Island Australia. She will be then doing a travel special. “It will just be me and my best friend having fun. It’s not Getaway or anything.”

Love Island Australia will premiere on 9GO! and stream on 9Now from May 27.

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