Love Island's Zara Holland says she was 'brainwashed' in the 'posh prison' of a villa and calls for show that ruined her life to be axed

ZARA Holland has revealed that Love Island producers "brainwashed" her, calling the luxurious villa a "posh prison" as she called for the reality show to be axed,

The 23-year-old star appeared on the second series of the programme in 2016, and has now said that Love Island ruined her life – ITV have vehemently denied her claims.

The former Miss Great Britain was famously stripped of her title when she had sex with fellow contestant Alex Bowen on the show, and has now claimed that her mum had begged producers to let her speak to her daughter in the days before as she could see that she was "turning into someone she wasn't", which ITV have denied.

Zara now takes anti-depressants and has therapy after suffering panic attacks following the show, with it being claimed that Zara's mum Cheryl made her seek help when producers failed to offer her aftercare support once she left the villa.

The beauty has said that she has only ever been contacted twice by bosses – once the day after her close friend and fellow islander Sophie Gradon took her own life, and the second the day after 2017 contestant Mike Thalassitis did the same.

She told the Daily Mail: "You think you're on a summer holiday and you might find love, but you are in a posh prison where you don't know what time it is and a voice in a wall tells you what to do.

"I honestly believe I was brainwashed."

Zara went on to slam ITV for not axing Love Island after Mike and Sophie took their own lives, particularly after they cancelled The Jeremy Kyle show earlier this week when guest Steve Dymond was found dead in a suspected suicide just days after appearing on the show.

She fumed: "That show screwed me up. I blame it for everything. What it does to the contestants is terrible.

"There have already been two suicides in three series. Jeremy Kyle's been on for 14 years, but they're axing it after one suicide.

"How can they contradict themselves by taking one show off and not the other? Am I angry? I'm absolutely fuming. I was only 20."

She also insists that her psychological assessment was only five minutes long and that she was cut off from friends and family and given a 24/7 chaperone who told her when to go to bed and what to do in the days before she entered the villa.

She recalled crying over how much she missed her mum, who she wasn't allowed to speak to on the phone for ten days.

Once in the villa, things went from bad to worse as Zara was left devastated when her partner dropped her for another girl within 24 hours of filming starting.

She explained: "I burst out crying. I'd had a couple of glasses of fizz and I was missing home. I felt different to everyone else."

Zara said that she began to feel more isolated when the male contestants wouldn't pick her to couple up, and even claimed that producers played a part in her repeated rejection as she said that the showrunners hold ultimate power and "decide everything".

The star said she was then told she had to choose one of two contestants who had deemed her boring to go in a private hideaway with her, Zara picked Alex and this is the night that she had sex – calling it her "first one-night-stand".

Her Miss Great Britain title was taken away the next day, and producers later told her that her mum had been hospitalised and Zara made the decision to go home – despite producers doing "everything to make her stay".

Zara has now said that she knows one of the contestants heading into the villa this year and that she has begged her not to take part.

Explaining how she felt once the show ended, the star shared: "For the first six months after the show, you're busy.

"Then, as it tails off, you deflate a bit, then a little bit more.

"Once the next show comes round everyone is interested in the new contestants. No one is interested in you."

A spokesperson for Love Island has hit back at Zara's claims, telling The Sun Online: "Zara has spoken to the production team regularly since leaving the villa and has recently been in contact to put forward suggestions for cast for this year’s series.

"Prior to going on the show Zara like the other Islanders were given medical appraisals that included psychological assessments. The opinions the Islanders have, decisions they make and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders themselves.

"It is always our intention to produce a show that is a fair and accurate representation of life in the villa.

"Our duty of care is a continuous and ongoing process for each Islander. This follows three key stages; pre-filming, filming, and aftercare.

"We work with both an independent GP and a psychological consultant to provide an assessment of the physical and mental health of each of the shortlisted cast members and their suitability for inclusion on the programme."


EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others.

You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM,, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together,
  • Mind,, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus,, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans,, 116 123

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