The Romance Retreat: ITV to launch Love Island for mid-life single parents

Casting is open for the dating show, in which contestants will be nominated by their adult children

The contestants will be holed up in a luxury villa. Photograph: Shutterstock

The contestants will be holed up in a luxury villa. Photograph: Shutterstock

ITV has begun casting for a dating show for single parents. The contestants on The Romance Retreat will be nominated by their adult children to search for love at a Love Island-style villa.

“This is the only dating show where single parents can search for love, by spending time in a luxury retreat, where all the parents have been nominated by their grownup children,” reads the casting call.

A take on Love Island, which is a hit among gen Z viewers, for older contestants has been rumoured for months. In January, Davina McCall told Stephen Bartlett’s podcast, The Diary of a CEO, that she had pitched the idea to ITV.

“I could fill a villa in Love Island with middle-aged people with the best back stories you have ever heard in your life,” she said.

“They’ve lived a life – they’re widows, they’re people who have been through horrific divorces. They are people who have split up with somebody and decided they want to try going out with somebody the same sex as them. They’re like interesting people. I’d watch that show.”

According to the presenter, ITV responded to her request to host a show of that style with: “We’re looking at something else that’s quite similar, we might consider you for that”.

The current series of Love Island began on Monday, with a stricter set of rules in place to protect contestants’ wellbeing. Participants’ social media accounts must now remain unused while they are in the villa, rather than be operated on their behalf. It follows contestants’ families – who often run their accounts during the show – appealing for kinder comments from viewers.

This is the first series to be hosted by Maya Jama, after Laura Whitmore stepped down in August.

ITV declined to respond to a request for comment about The Romance Retreat.

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