Love Island’s “extraordinary success” drove ITV to commission its Big Brother reboot, according to content boss Kevin Lygo, who said duty of care is being considered for the upcoming reality show but “I don’t think we should stop allowing the public on TV.”
Lygo told the Edinburgh Television Festival that Love Island, which has now run for eight seasons, had “defied current logic” by regularly topping 3M viewers per night across its eight-week run for multiple seasons.
“More young people watch it than any other and we should all take joy in the fact that if you get the right show, they will watch,” he added.
Lygo said Banijay’s Big Brother reboot, which was unveiled during the Love Island finale, will likely skew older than Love Island, attracting audiences who watched two decades ago and “remember it fondly” from days on Channel 4 and Channel 5.
The UK broadcasters have come in for criticism for the plethora of current reboots in the offing, with former Channel 4 CEO David Abraham earlier describing the trend as “profoundly depressing.”
But Lygo said it “feels right” after five years off air to bring back Big Brother and that ITV isn’t taking much of a commercial risk.
“Half of this room will come and have a look to see if it’s any good and will probably stick around for eight weeks and ruin their lives,” he joked.
With reboots in mind, ITV Head of Entertainment Katie Rawcliffe, appearing alongside Lygo, said rumors that Pop Idol is returning are incorrect.
Duty of care
Following another Love Island season in which duty of care was in the spotlight, Lygo said he recognizes the challenge but “I don’t think we should stop allowing the public on TV.”
He said British TV “had a wake up call” following the suicide of contestant Steve Dymond after he appeared on ITV’s now-axed Jeremy Kyle Show and after the suicides of two former Love Island contestants.
“A few years back we hardly used the term ‘duty of care’ and now it’s on everyone’s lips,” he added. “Broadcasters are very mindful of it and it is uppermost in producers’ minds. We have come on leaps and bounds.”
He pointed out that duty of care issues can impact “innocuous” shows such as daytime format The Chase, for which a contestant recently became incredibly nervous they would be “ridiculed” after getting an easy question wrong during the recording.
Lygo and his commissioners, who joined him onstage, talked up the soon-to-launch streamer ITVX, which they revealed is coming in November.
He described a “commercial imperative” in bringing viewers back to ITV who don’t necessarily watch every night.
“We’ve lost say 5M viewers over the past few years and want to show them there are thousands of hours of shows they can watch, a lot of them new and shiny,” he added.
According to ITV Drama Head Polly Hill, ITVX, which will debut one original drama per week and commission 50% more drama, allows the broadcaster to make more shows for younger people.
“We can be much more targeted in terms of genre with big appeal for young audiences, looking for something slightly different that still sits within ITV’s remit” she said.
Lygo said ITVX will “tackle subjects that we would be more nervous about on main channel.”
Lygo and his team were speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, which is taking place from August 24 to 26 and featuring talks from all major British broadcaster and streamer execs.
Earlier, ITV unveiled a suite of docs for ITVX including a behind-the-scenes Royal Family show from Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story indie 72 Films.
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