Love Island

Your Definitive Guide To Winter Love Island 2023

From recoupling drama to Casa Amor bombshells, here’s everything that went down.

by Bustle UK
Originally Published: 
'Love Island' 2023:  Contestants, Start Date, Location For Winter Series

Die-hard fans of ITV 2’s Love Island are likely overjoyed that 2023 is serving not one but two series of the popular dating show. Coming to us all the way from South Africa, winter Love Island kicked off on Jan. 16, 2023 and closed with a bang on Mar. 13. See below for everything to know about the series, from the surprise bombshells and Casa Amor to what host Maya Jama had to say about it all. And of course, to know more about the winners of the 2023 Winter season.

Winter Love Island 2023 Podcast

Former Islander Indiyah Polack and Made In Chelsea’s Sam Thompson were on the official Winter Love Island podcast to dissect all the goings on in the Villa. Titled Love Island: The Morning After, the audio series — announced on Jan. 5 — saw the duo share their thoughts on the latest couplings, dumplings, and firepit antics — and interview some of the most memorable Islanders from seasons gone by.

Winter Love Island 2023 Cast

With the original islanders announced on Jan. 9, the first line-up included a farmer, a Bond star, and a biomedical science student. An eclectic bunch, right? Throughout the series, many more contestants joined the line-up, including the Casa Amor hopefuls. With every week going forward, the Islanders dwindled till we found our final winning couple. Read on to find out what you need to know.

Tanya Manhenga

First to be confirmed to be heading into the South African Love Island villa was Tanya Manhenga. The 22 year-old is currently studying biomedical science in Liverpool, alongside making a living as an influencer. “I’m looking for a boyfriend and I think being in a Villa with lots of different people will help me work out who it is I may want,” she told ITVX before entering the show.

Tanya coupled up with Shaq Muhammad on the first day of the series and besides a shocking and short-lived Casa Amor recoupling, the duo stuck together for most of the show. Tanya and Shaq were among the couples who made it to the finale and came fourth in this season. They left the villa in an exclusive relationship as girlfriend and boyfriend.

Anna-May Robey

Welsh payroll administrator Anna-May Robey is 20 years old and looking for love – at the behest of her mother. “I’ve been single for quite a while, my mother is bugging me, she's like, ‘You need to find a boyfriend,’” she told ITVX. “I want a boyfriend, I want to find someone who makes me laugh.” Anna left the villa on Day 9.

Kai Fagan

If his Instagram is anything to go by, 24-year-old Kai Fagan loves four things in a big way: rugby (he played rugby 7s for Jamaica and currently plays for Burnage RFC), food (who doesn’t?), travel (ditto), and his little sister (adorable). In the villa he was looking for the right girl, “I feel like I have quite high expectations. I don’t feel I should commit to someone unless I’m absolutely buzzing over them, because it’s not fair on them.”

Clearly, Kai met his match. After a fair share of ups and downs, and trial and error in various couples, the school teacher paired up with social worker Sanam Harrinanan in Casa Amor. Their sweet, un-chaotic love story took them straight to the finals and saw them crowned the winners of Love Island’s 2023 winter season.

Will Young

No, not that Will Young. Winter Love Island’s Will Young is a fifth generation farmer from Buckinghamshire. He has two pet pigs, named Timon and Pumbaa, and regularly shared topless pics of him tending to farm animals. “Having grown up on a farm, it’s been quite difficult juggling relationships and work,” he told ITVX before entering the villa. “Love Island will give me time away from the farm to solely go out and find love. I think I’m at the time of my life where I’m mature enough to go and find a wife.”

Well, we’re yet to see whether Will found a wife or not but he definitely found a girlfriend in bombshell Jessie Wynter. The duo were among the last five couples and shared a magical barn date where they made things official, before leaving the villa together on day 54 after receiving the lowest votes from the public.

Lana Jenkins

Luton-based make-up artist Lana Jenkins once appeared in Benidorm. She’s also quick to drop the L-bomb. “I fall in love quickly,” she said. “I tend to know quite soon if I could fall in love with that person and then, as long as everything is going well, I’ll probably tell them I love them in about a week.” Unsurprising then that commitment-prone Lana became exclusive with Ron Hall soon after the Casa Amor recouplings.

The couple also expressed their love for each other on the final day in the villa during their emotional speeches. Whilst Lana and Ron didn’t win the title, they came in as runners up with the second highest votes from the public in the finale.

Tanyel Revan

26-year-old hair stylist Tanyel Revan is based in North London but lives the true jet-set life. Her Instagram is a whistle-stop tour of hot (and haute) destinations, including Dubai, Cyprus, and Paris. Despite pursuing Kai and being one of the viewers’ most loved characters, Tanyel left the villa on Day 24.

Ron Hall

“On meeting me, you’d never know I am blind in one eye,” Ron Hall, the 25-year-old financial advisor said ahead of entering the villa. “It was the result of a football injury when I was 8; I went in for a header and got kicked in the face. It’s not hindered me in any shape or form.” Ron coupled up with Lana on the first day in the series and whilst the financial advisor turned his head a fair share of times, he always returned to his first partner. The couple made it to the final and placed second in the winter season.

Shaq Muhammad

London-based airport security officer Shaq Muhammad had high expectations for Love Island. “I thought, why not be in the sun and potentially meet the love of my life? Hopefully I do come out with my future wife,” he said before entering the villa. Whilst we can’t promise a marriage yet, Shaq confessed his love to Tanya early on in the series and the couple made things official on their romantic final date. Shaq and Tanya also made it to the finale episode and came fourth.

Olivia Hawkins

27-year-old Olivia Hawkins has a surprising connection to Emma Watson and Michelle Keegan: she was a body double for both stars. And she appeared in a James Bond film, opposite Daniel Craig. Originally from Brighton, the actor and ring girl hoped to bring “fun” and “vibes” to the villa. “Maybe a little bit of drama!,” she added. After much drama, Olivia left the villa with beau Maxwell Samuda on day 45.

Haris Namani

The TV salesman from Doncaster has never found love. “I think this is the show that can help me,” Haris Namani said ahead of entering the villa. “It’s the best opportunity for me to find the girl and find the right one. I’ve obviously not found the right one myself.” The lucky lady will know they are the right one when he takes her home to meet the fam. “I’m not going to say I’ve fallen in love until I’ve taken them to meet my mum and dad or sisters and brother,” he explained.

Haris left the villa on Day 9, following the controversy surrounding a video published by The Sun of an alleged fight.

Winter Love Island 2023 Bombshells

Alongside Love Island’s contestants, of course, you’ll also find the reality show’s famous bombshells. Sent forth along the way to shake things up, these latecomers have to “move mad” in order to break up established couples and win their own more permanent place in the villa. Usually, bombshells are chosen by producers behind-the-scenes, but this year, there’s been a shake-up.

For the first time ever, viewers at home were responsible for selecting the show’s first new agent of chaos. So, who were the contenders?

Ellie Spence

Norwich-based Business Development Exec Ellie promised “drama, fun and a bit of unpredictability.” The 25-year-old has been single for three years, and though she describes herself as “flirty, forward and very confident,” she was looking to find serious commitment on the show.

“I’m single because I fall in love really quick, but I fall out of it just as quickly,” Ellie explained. “I could literally fall in love with a chair and then a week later be like, ‘Oh wait, no, that's a chair!’” Those sun-loungers had better watch out. Ellie left on day 26 unable to find a connection with any of the boys (or sun-loungers) in the villa.

Tom Clare

23-year-old semi-pro footballer Tom Clare is a striker for Macclesfield FC, and was the club’s top goalscorer last season. Luckily enough, though, his club bosses — including former Manchester Utd and Wales player Robbie Savage — fully backed his decision to head to Love Island.

A self-confessed High School Musical fan, Tom says he would hire Zac Efron to play him in a film about his life, and also admits to enjoying an ABBA remix. When it comes to his approach in the villa, he said that he won’t resort to any sly or underhand tactics. “I’m a good laugh, a good vibe. I’m not snakey, I don’t like that kind of stuff,” he explained. “If I’ve got an issue with someone I’ll speak to them.”

Amongst all the drama, Tom went on to fall in love with fellow bombshell Samie Elishi. The couple faced a few bumps after Casa Amor but became exclusive and declared their love for each other in the finale episode. Whilst Tom and Samie didn’t bag the title, they came in third.

Zara Deniz Lackenby-Brown

Property developer Zara Deniz Lackenby-Brown has formed connections with some famous faces thanks to her previous work as a model and dancer. Fully trained in ballet, tap, and jazz, the 25-year-old has worked with the likes of Hardy, Caprio, Headie One, Aitch, and Tione Wayne.

Zara told ITV before entering the villa, “My love life is a bit shambolic so it would be nice to date in a different environment as whatever I’m doing at the minute isn’t working.” Sadly, Zara left the villa single on day 17 after a love triangle with Tom and Olivia.

David Salako

Essex-based David Salako is a money adviser at Debt Free Advice, and is hoping to find more luck in love. “I’m very picky. I haven’t met the right one yet,” he told ITVX, adding that he has got certain “standards.” One particular ick for David is girls who sing karaoke “all messy to songs like ‘Wonderwall’ in the bar.”

David wasn’t just looking for love in the villa, though. He was also excited to form new platonic relationships. “I’m actually excited to meet new people, aside from a partner, friends as well.” Whilst the Islander made a few pals, he was unable to find his match and left the villa on day 5.

Jessie Wynter

26-year-old personal trainer and influencer Jessie Wynter is no stranger to villa life, having starred on Love Island Australia in 2019. She finished the series in fourth place, having arrived in the villa on the first day. Originally from Tasmania and now living in Sydney, Jessie promised to “bring energy” and “good vibes” to this year’s series.

The Australian Islander coupled up with Will from when she entered the show and continued to stay strong until they got eliminated on day 54. The couple recently shared some rather adorable pics of Jessie visiting Will’s farm, and posing with a few lambs, of course.

Aaron Waters

Model and content creator Aaron Waters came in second place on the third series of Love Island Australia, but his relationship with Jess Velkovski didn’t last. This time around, the 26-year-old wanted to keep open to “other opportunities” within the new batch of singles. “I want to be testing the waters by being open-minded and giving everyone a chance.” Sadly, this tactic didn’t work too well for Aaron and he left the villa on day 19.

Spencer Wilks

Bournemouth native Spencer Wilks is an e-commerce business owner with a major love for Justin Bieber. The 24-year-old is hoping to use his “loud, outgoing, and chatty” personality to make a love connection. Whilst Spencer was confident that he’ll find the one, telling viewers that he’s “just all round husband material”, it didn’t quite work out for him on the show and he left on day 19.

Samie Elishi

On Jan. 29, a brand new bombshell was teased in the form of Samie, a 22-year-old estate agent coordinator from London. Speaking about her reasons for joining Love Island, Samie had said it was because “all my single friends are starting to settle down.” Adding that, “Whenever I suggest a girls’ trip, everyone’s staying in with their boyfriends. I want someone to do that with, too!” And her best quality? “I’m a really honest person and I have no filter. I won’t take rubbish from anyone, especially when it comes to guys.”

We saw this with Samie’s reaction to Tom after the Casa Amor drama but the couple made up and continued to stay strong as they reached the finale. Samie and Tom came in third in the 2023 winter season, after confessing their love to one another during the emotional speeches.

Casey O’Gorman

Not long after Samie’s entrance, recruitment consultant Casey O’Gorman entered the villa as a bombshell. The 26-year-old from Tring promised to bring entertainment and drama, describing himself as “very cheeky, naughty, outgoing [and] ambitious.”

Casey was in the villa to look for “the one,” he said. “I feel like now is the time to settle down and find a girlfriend. I’ve always said I want to be married with kids by the time I’m 30. I’m 26, so we are getting there!” After a very chaotic start with Lana, Casey paired up with fellow bombshell Claudia Fogarty only to recouple with final entry, Rosie Seabrook. The couple were eliminated from the villa on day 51.

Jordan Odofin

Entering the villa alongside Casey, 28-year-old Jordan Odofin from London looked to bring his “London swagger” into the villa. The senior HR advisor was “looking to find a genuine connection with someone” having focused on his career.

Single by choice, Jordan is “very picky in terms of what I like, if someone does something that I think is an ‘ick’ then I’ll be off. I want to go into the villa and build a genuine connection with no distractions.” Despite his good intentions and undeniable charm, Jordan left the villa on day 26.

Claudia Fogarty

On Feb. 7, 28-year-old Claudia Fogarty entered the villa as another bombshell. The fashion boutique owner is done with “bad boys”, and is “ready to settle down … to find my person and now is the right time.” Bringing her “northern charm” from Blackburn, Claudia also has a notable family member. Her dad is former motocross Carl Fogarty who won the 14th series of I’m A Celebrity in 2014. Claudia was dumped from the villa on day 46 alongside Keanan, after Olivia and Maxwell had to pick a couple to leave with them.

Rosie Seabrook

Amidst the chaos of post-Casa Amor recouplings, Rosie Seabrook entered the villa hoping to shake things up. Hailing from Buckinghamshire, the new bombshell had her eyes set on Casey O’Gorman. “I’m unsure if he’s got the height but I can let that slide because he’s got everything else,” she told ITV.

The 24-year-old works as an industry placement advisor and has a surprising phobia of frozen food?! “If I’m shopping and I have to go near the frozen section, it honestly makes me feel sick,” she explained. A self-proclaimed “girl’s girl”, Rosie’s Instagram is a flurry of brunch photos with her best friends, attractive fit checks and vacation selfies. You can follow her on @RosieSeabrook.

As we saw, Casey and Rosie coupled up after a lot of drama only to be eliminated on day 51.

Keanan Brand

Making a late entry alongside Rosie, Lancashire native Keanan Brand brought his “energetic, caring, and happy-go-lucky” personality to the villa. The 24-year-old is a professional rugby player representing Leigh Leopards in the Betfred Super League. But his time in the villa was over just a few days after he entered, as he was dumped from the show on day 46. You can find him on Instagram @KeaBrand.

Winter Love Island 2023 Casa Amor

The tumultuous Casa Amor episodes came in around the time of Valentine’s Day bringing peak drama with them. The girls had sneaked off to Casa Amor to meet six new boys, while six new girls arrived at the villa to sway their heads. Take a look at the 12 islanders who tried to stir up the drama below.

Bayley Mummery

25-year-old operations manager Bayley Mummery from Surrey isn’t afraid to talk about his feelings and give advice. “I’m also in there for myself, so I’m going to have to put myself first when it comes to the girls,” Bayley said, adding that he’s not adfraid to “tread on a few toes.” This strategy didn’t work too well for him though as he left the villa on day 32.

You can follow him on Instagram @bayley_mummery.

Frankie Davey

Professional boxer Frankie Davey describes himself as laid back, but the 22-year-old from Ipswich was ready to fight for the right girl. “I don’t usually have to do a lot of chasing… so it might be a little bit of a switch up in the villa,” he said. “I’m aware that I might have to take the boxing gloves off and get the grafting gloves on.”

You can follow him on Instagram @frankie_davey. As for what Frankie is looking for in a potential partner, the boxer needs someone he can vibe with all day. “If I can’t spend all day with you without getting bored or wanting to go and speak to someone else, then that’s a red flag for me.” Frankie left the villa on day 32.

Kain Reed

“Fun, charismatic and energetic” Kain Reed was after love and a “bit of lad banter” while in Casa Amor. The 21-year-old energy consultant from Gateshead already has his eyes on some of the girls already, including Samie and Lana. “If I had my choice it would be Samie, as soon as I start thinking to her I think there’s a good chance it could happen. I also like Lana, she’s obviously coupled up, but in Casa Amor the other boys aren’t there so we’ll have to see what happens.” Kain left the villa on day 32.

You can follow him on Instagram @kain.reed.

Martin Akinola

Good friends with Dami Hope, 27-year-old Martin Akinola is a senior software engineer from Dublin. Whilst he was very excited to enter Casa Amor and hoped to “cause some confusion, some little problems,” it didn’t work out as planned. Tanya picked Martin in the Casa recoupling but dumped him soon after as she found her way back to Shaq. During his short lived time in the villa, Martin and Tanya also had a heated argument where he accused her of lying to him. He left the villa on day 40 but you can follow the former Islander on Instagram @Mart1n.jr

Maxwell Samuda

23-year-old Maxwell Samuda, a finance student from London, was looking for “kindness and honesty.” He struck up a connection in Casa Amor with Olivia, but the pair were dumped from the villa not long after on day 45. You can follow him on Instagram @maxwells16_.

Ryan Weekley

Steel erector Ryan Weekly hoped to bring the cool into Casa Amor. “I’ll let a girl know if I’m interested but I’d never put pressure on anything,” he said. The 22-year-old from Nottingham wants to let the girls know that he snores “before we share a bed… hopefully with Samie.” Sadly, this didn’t go to plan and Ryan left the villa on day 32. You can follow him on Instagram @ryanweekley1.

Cynthia Otseh-Taiwo

25-year-old dental receptionist Cynthia Otseh-Taiwo from London is all about eye contact. “When you don’t look at a guy, they take it that you’re not interested.” She was set to eye potential suitors in the villa, as well as potentially stepping on people’s toes. “If I have a connection with someone, I can’t stop that connection just because of what’s gone on, because that wouldn’t be fair to myself.” As we know from the chaotic Casa Amor recoupling where Cynthia revealed to Claudia that Casey was “straddling” her in bed, the Islander is unafraid to speak her mind. Yet she left the villa on day 32. You can keep up with Cynthia on Instagram @CynthiaTaiwo_.

Layla Al-Momani

Layla Al-Momani was ready to stand out among the Casa Amor Islanders. The 28-year-old brand managing director from Nottingham likes to “find out lots about people, so I’ll definitely be the one to ask weird questions.” Her type is any guy with the personality and vibe of Louis Theroux, which Will totally fits in her opinion. She also fancies the “cheeky lad” Ron and Shaq. As we saw in Casa, Will and Layla started off strong and even shared a few kisses before he got cold feet and realised his feelings for Jessie. This left Layla uncoupled and she left the villa on day 32.

You can follow her on Instagram @laylaalmomani.

Lydia Karakyriakou

22-year-old Lydia Karakyriakou went into Casa Amor with a solid strategy: “You just have to be yourself, looks are only going to get you so far, so being able to listen and have a laugh is a good technique.” The retail customer assistant from Glasgow was “looking for someone to bounce off, and someone who is able to support and care for me.” She’s also after a guy that’s “not too serious and can have a laugh.” Although Lydia and Tom hit it off and seemed to have a spark, the footballer decided to stick with Samie and Lydia left the villa on day 32. You can follow her on Instagram @lydiakarax.

Lynda Flix

Healthcare assistant and singer Lynda Flix is “fun, energetic [and] confident” and is “not afraid to speak my mind or express myself.” The 22-year-old from Salford is looking for a man with humour, who “needs to be funny and be able to make me laugh. I also need someone that’s very energetic and exciting, he can’t be boring.” Sadly, Lynda left the villa on Day 32. You can follow her on Instagram @lyndaflix.

Sammy James

27-year-old beauty buyer Sammy James is from Leicester, and is looking for “someone to know exactly where he’s going in life, so they’re not intimidated by me.” She’s also after a guy with “a big heart, someone that adores his family, and someone who’s a little bit silly.” Sammy is very adventurous, and is also a big manifester. “I’ve manifested everything that’s come into my life.” Perhaps time in the villa wasn’t part of the manifestation as she left promptly on day 32. You can follow her on Instagram @sammymayjames.

Sanam Harrinanan

Social worker Sanam Harrinanan brought the good vibes to Casa Amor, as well as her graft. While the 24-year-old from Bedford is “laid-back and fun,” she’ll definitely put the graft in for the one that turns her head. Even before entering the show she expressed her interest in Kai, who she deemed her “number one” and thought was “cute.” Since Casa, the couple went from strength to strength and became exclusive in the last week of the series. Kai and Sanam didn’t just make it to the final four but also won the title of the 2023 winter season.

You can follow Sanam on @Sanamiee.

Winter Love Island 2023 Host

The voice of Love Island, Iain Stirling — who is married to former host Laura Whitmore — is confirmed to be taking on narration duties for Love Island USA as it moves from CBS to Peacock, meaning he could be in for quite a few summers and winters of love.

Maya Jama was confirmed to be the villa’s new winter host in October 2022, after Whitmore announced her departure from the show in August. “I’ve always been such a massive Love Island fan and I’m so excited to be hosting one of the nation’s favourite shows,” Jama said in a statement. “I can’t wait to get into the villa and meet all of the islanders.”

Outlining how she thought she would approach the gig, Jama added that she’d try to channel the enthusiasm she always feels as a die-hard fan watching at home. “I've screamed at the telly for years,” she says, adding that she’s watched every single season to date.

This Morning hosts Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary asked Jama for her all-time Love Island highlight. For the new presenter, it has to be Season 3, and the moment when Chris Hughes asked: “Shall I rap a little bit and lighten the mood?” Jama commented: “That still gets put in the group chats every now and then when there's an awkward situation.”

Quizzed on whether she would back an edition of Love Island with older contestants, as suggested by Davina McCall, Jama was in favour. “Get them all in, the nans and grandads,” she said. “Ask the producers. Maybe next time!”

Winter Love Island 2023 Villa

A new Winter Love Island meant a brand new villa, and ITV pulled out all the stops with its South Africa spot. This year’s batch of Islanders were moved to a different location from the former winter series, but the villa had all the luxurious amenities that you’d expect from Love Island. There’s a plush bar, a large pool, and, of course, a fire pit for everyone to gather around.

The Islanders entered the new villa through a heart archway (as you do), and had the opportunity to sneak up into a treehouse — a surprising new feature — which overlooks the stunning mountain scenery. So if any of this year’s contestants wanted to have a private moment that doesn’t include The Hideaway, this could’ve been the spot to do just that.

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Love Island 2023 Duty of Care Regulations

On Dec. 30, ITV released a new set of protocols for Islanders appearing on Love Island in 2023. Notably, in the winter series, participants were asked to pause all accounts for the duration of their time on screen, meaning their family and friends were not able to post on their pages on their behalf. The network believes this will ensure the Islanders and their families are protected from the adverse effects of social media.

Before entering the villa, participants were also trained about engaging in mutually respectful relationships and in identifying coercive or controlling behaviour. This comes after the previous season saw domestic abuse charities calling out the male contestants’ “misogyny and casual sexism.”

Similar to previous seasons, this time too, contestants were advised on using inclusive language and creating safe spaces for one another. Moreover, ahead of the winter season, new participants watched a video where former Islanders share tips on how to deal with being filmed 24/7, how to interact with producers, how to deal with social media trolling and how to adapt to life after the show. The welfare programme also includes financial advice and mental health check-ins with the Islanders before, during and 14 months after the completion of the show.

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