Katherine MacAlister talks to comedian Iain Stirling about Love Island, stand-up and why Oxford remains immune to his charms

IAIN Stirling, comedian, stand-up, BAFTA award winner and most notoriously the voice behind TV’s biggest hit of the the summer Love Island, is perplexed.

His tour has sold out all over the country, everywhere that is except Oxford, and he is at a loss to explain why?

“Yes, Oxford is the exception to the rule. It’s the blip. It’s embarrassing. I’ve got friends there who are coming to the show. I’ll have to get them to move around the auditorium a lot. Who knows why.

“Perhaps they don’t watch Love Island there.”

For those of you who missed the singles reality show on ITV2, its popularity frequently outdid its mainstream rivals on TV, despite its six nights a week, eight-week format, thanks to its housemates antics and Iain’s hilarious commentary.

So did he jump at the opportunity to provide the voiceovers?

“No, I kept turning it down. The other weird thing is that Love Island didn’t even audition me they just picked me.

So what happened? “My housemate said ‘why don’t you just give it a go and see how you get on?’

“Until then I didn’t think it was my bag. I didn’t have any interest in reality TV. But once I watched the first day’s Love Island episode I was hooked. It was fascinating.”

So how does it work? “I watch the episode in the afternoon and then sit down and write appropriate one-liners to accompany the programme, things that I think are

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funny, and they are then sent off and it all gets compiled and put on TV.”

But four series in, it’s amazing that Iain still has anything novel to say: “You have to think outside the relationships, and with 24 hours condensed down to an hour there’s still a lot of material to work with.”

“So you have to have fun with the contestants. When Georgia and Eyal came on this year I knew it would be OK, or Charlie when we found out he was loaded.”

So does he stay friends with them afterwards? “Well some split up, what 20+something’s don’t? On the other hand, we have couples from the first few series who now have children, and I was at Alex and Olivia’s wedding, so there are success stories.”

And why has Love Island been so successful? “Because it appeals to the 16-34 demographic and it’s relatable and uncomplicated to watch, although it’s a very complicated show to produce; there is a massive production hub of hundreds running it all behind the scenes.”

As for this year, 3.6million fans in total tuned in, ITV2s biggest ever audience.

But the surprise star of the series was Iain, whose hilarious one-liners gained him a new legion of fans, quite a feat for someone who remained anonymous. Until now that is.

Because with a full tour to complete, he has stepped into the limelight to capitalise on his new heart throb status.

“It just begs the question what did they expect? An old fat, bald guy?”

So does he feel eclipsed by Love island, considering he’s been a stand-up for nigh on 10 years now?

“Of course not, it just means that more people know who I am now and I can perform in big theatres, not above pubs,” he says in that deadpan, lilting Scottish accent which kept us so entertained this summer. “It’s like an away-win. But even though I hadn’t intended on being well known, the thing about being a performer is that for people to come and see you do stand-up, you need to be out there and Love Island has done exactly that.”

And what of his real-life relationship with the gorgeous TV presenter Laura Whitmore, who was a Strictly contestant in 2016. “We are two well known people who care for one another,” he says, for once lost for words.

And what would he say to Oxford? “If you like Love Island you will love my show. If you haven’t watched it, you’ll love it anyway. It’s observational, about day-to-day life and mainly about my inability to grow up. Let me prove you wrong.”

Iain Stirling: U OK hun? is at Oxford Playhouse on Monday. 01865 305305 or oxfordplayhouse.com