As things continue to heat up in theLove Island villa, and as the final fast approaches, there’s one question on everyone’s lips: When will the famous ‘Meet the Parents’ episode air?
The name of the episode is slightly misleading, as the invite extends to other family members too, such as siblings. With relatives such as Gemma ’s dad Michael Owen andEkin-Su ’s brother making waves outside of the villa, fans can’t get enough ofthe prospect of the Islanders’ loved ones making their debut in Mallorca.
Former footballer Michael has ruled himself out of making an appearance but there's a whole horde of relatives waiting in the wings to make their ITV2 debuts. One person who knows exactly what it’s like to step foot in the villa is 2021 contestantKaz Kamwi ’s sisterBanji, who appeared on last year’s show alongside their mum.
From confiscated possessions to off-limits conversations, 25 year old Banji reveals what happens when you take part in the fan-favourite episode, which conversations are off limits and why watches are banned…
The meet up is as natural as possible
Despite the vast number of cameras and the immense pressure of being on the hit ITV2 show, friends and family members are reminded by producers to keep things as “natural” as possible, says Banji.
“Before I went in, the producers encouraged me to have a good time and to just have a natural catch-up with my sister,” she explains. “I was so excited to be in the villa that even if I’d planned to say something fake for the cameras, I’d have forgotten about that the moment I walked in. As soon as I came out I was crossing my fingers hoping that I hadn't made a fool out of myself by saying something embarrassing since it was all a haze.”
But some topics are off limits
Despite that, in a bid to keep the Islanders as detached from the outside world as possible, some topics are, naturally, forbidden.
“We were told that we weren’t allowed to talk about the outside world in relation to the show,” says Banji. “You are allowed to speak about things that have happened in relation to family life, but you couldn’t talk about things that had happened as a result of the show.
"For instance, our younger sister got a place at uni while Kaz was in the villa and that’s the first thing we told her. It was extremely emotional and Kaz was more interested in catching up with us rather than what was happening with the show anyway.”
Possessions are left at the door
Similarly, just as theLove Island contestants are subject to a series of strict rules while on the show, their loved ones are too.
“Before we went into the villa, we had to give in our bags and possessions to stop us bringing anything forbidden in,” she says. “Since the contestants are so disconnected from the outside world, I imagine that if we brought a watch or mobile phone into the villa they would’ve got extremely disoriented if they knew the time.”
The trip is short but sweet
According to Banji, filming for the episode takes place over the course of one day and each party has their own short slot in the villa. As a Love Island superfan, this came somewhat as a blow to Banji who tells us she wishes she’d caught a glimpse of the infamous terrace.
“We were told about 48 hours beforehand that two of us needed to fly out to Mallorca to be on the show, so it was a case of whoever could get time off work would be going,” she explains. “On the day itself, I spent around 15-20 minutes maximum in the actual villa before jetting back home again. I was allowed to say a quick hello to the other contestants but there wasn’t even time for a tour of the villa.”
The families are kept separate before entering
While Banji may not have spent the most time talking with Kaz’s fellow Islanders, she was able to catch up with their families – just not before her big entrance.
“We stayed at a hotel with the other female contestants’ family members but didn’t see them on the actual day,” she explains. “I was hoping that I could speak to them and get the tea about what it was like but I had to go in there with zero knowledge. It would’ve been super helpful to have someone who could’ve told me to walk a bit slower when entering because I nearly fell over on the stone pathway!”
It’s overwhelming but worth it
While it may have been her sister whose time in the villa was watched by millions, Banji admits that the experience was “overwhelming” given the success of the show.
“It’s quite overwhelming, especially if you’ve seen or managed the contestants’ social media. There’s lots of opinions out there, so it’s easy to worry about how you will be perceived,” she says. “I would encourage anyone going in this year to forget about the stress and to enjoy themselves and smile. Also, my biggest regret is not taking a souvenir or some sort of selfie outside the villa, so definitely do that.”
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