All washed up on a desert island

A steamy relationship may rescue ITV’s latest reality programme but the signs are not promising

After recent reality flops such as Hell's Kitchen and Celebrity Wrestling, ITV1's hopes that Celebrity Love Island might equal the success of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here seemed optimistic at best.

However, a massive marketing push behind the programme did lead me to question my initial cynicism and to wonder whether ITV really had found another winning reality format.

Advertisements in every female magazine from Now to Hello were intended to fuel interest among the celeb-hungry younger demographic.

Tabloid regulars Rebecca Loos and Abi Titmuss, paired with notorious womanisers such as Calum Best and Fran Cosgrave, looked unlikely to disappoint on a show that promised steamy shenanigans in paradise.

Described as Heat meets The OC, Celebrity Love Island kicked off with reasonable audience figures of 5.3 million as the 12 single C-list celebs screeched in excitement at the sight of the luxurious resort created especially for them.

Nevertheless, the programme could not stand up to the competition from the BBC's New Tricks, nor did it equal the average ratings for the Monday night slot.

There seemed early promise that a Jordan and Peter-style relationship may emerge as ex- Hollyoaks actor Paul Danan took an immediate shine to "It" girl Lady Isabella Hervey and was voted into the Love Shack by a public eager to match-make.

But these initial hopes of romance quickly died as Lady Isabella made her purely platonic intentions painfully clear to a heartbroken Paul.

Tuesday's instalment proved a further disappointment as viewing fell by 1.4 million in what seems to be the start of a steady decline. Even the tabloids, usually so eager to support any wannabees prepared to bare all on national television, appear to have abandoned the sinking ship, though not before slating the show; "...so bad you can actually feel your brain cells eroding while you glare at it."

A spokesman for ITV maintained that the show isn't a disappointment, with a good share of 16-34s tuning in so far.

Although it seems unfair to write it off after such a short time, it appears unlikely that Celebrity Love Island will be able to stand up to competition from the original reality format Big Brother starting next Friday on Channel 4 in the same time slot.

More plausible is Celebrity Love Island going the same way as Celebrity Wrestling if interest is not soon fuelled by another love match.

The sparks between Jane Middlemiss and ex-footballer Lee Sharpe could prove the saving grace of the show and they are now favourites to win the £100,000 prize.

With four weeks still left to run, a disappointing beginning and soon to face stiff competition, from Big Brother, we can only hope that Celebrity Love Island stages a dramatic recovery in an effort to help halt ITV's mounting audience losses.

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