It’s one of the most popular shows on television and it involves singletons being jetted off to a sunny climate. Love Island has taken the UK – and our friends in America and Australia – by storm, returning tomorrow for its first winter edition. But what’s the appeal of watching other people on holiday?

What is the premise?

A group of men and women, living in isolation from the outside world and followed by 69 cameras, partner up and participate in various challenges, all while living in a plush villa somewhere much hotter than Scotland (for the winter version, it’s South Africa). The show follows the interactions and forced recoupling between contestants and how relationships develop over the course of the series. It’s now seen spin-offs in Australia, Germany, Sweden and the US and won a Bafta for Best Reality and Constructed Factual Show in 2018.

How much of a commitment is it?

You can get a dose of Love Island action every day as there is a programme aired every evening during the series. You’re allowed your own plans on Saturday nights, however, since that episode is a recap of the week. Otherwise, you are busy at 9pm, every night, for six nights of the week.

Who goes on it?

The “islander” demographic is usually between the age of 18 to 30 years old, which reflects the young audience of the programme: 43% of Love Island viewers are under the age of 30, according to a YouGov poll last year. Individuals with a surprising variety of careers apply: this year’s winter cohort includes a police officer, medical PA and democratic services officer. It was reported that 85,000 applied to be on last year’s series.

Why go on it?

The benefits of participating can be monumental. Being a contestant on Love Island – which brings in about £77 million in ad revenue for ITV – catapults you into the public sphere. You’ll rack up a substantial social media following, which paves the way for advertising deals with brands, maybe a tv show or a fashion line.

So does anyone go on it to genuinely find love?

Not all contestants go down the route of social media stardom – some go back to their jobs afterwards, such as bomb disposal expert Camilla Thurlow from 2017, however she still had her own follow-up TV show. Many do go on Love Island to find love. However the number of couples staying together after the show is dwindling, as the pressures of the outside world and the public’s continued interest in their relationship take their toll. Only a handful of couples are still together since the programme began in 2015.

Why does it face backlash?

ITV has come under scrutiny for the way characters are allegedly manipulated for entertainment purposes – in 2018, 2,500 complaints were made to Ofcom when contestant Dani Dyer was shown what some say was a deliberately upsetting clip. Ofcom concluded that ITV did not breach broadcasting rules, however the deaths by suicide of two previous contestants have raised further qualms about the repercussions of participating in the show and the celebrity status that comes with it. ITV in response now offers contestants aftercare as well as other support.