Being A Casa Amor Bombshell Is ‘Horrendous’, Says Former Islander Savanna Darnell

Isolation, false promises and constant disappointment, this previous contestant has exposed the dark side to going on Love Island


by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

On last night’s episode of Love Island, the destruction wrought by the Casa Amor twist, where 12 new bombshells enter the villa, played out on our screens. If you're not familiar with the term, 'bombshells' are the contestants dropped in unexpectedly during the show to shake up the process. Typically, even when they're not chosen for a recoupling, we see the Islander have some sort of narrative, but Casa Amor is different - it's savage.

Six new girls enter one villa, while six new boys enter the other. Whoever is not chosen of those 12 at the end of the week is unceremoniously dumped without a trace. No dramatic firepit moments, no exit interviews, just deleted from the series as if they were never there.

We watched this unfold on our screens last night when new girls Maria, Lavena and Nabila were seemingly sent packing as the original girls returned to replace them. And even more savage? We didn't even see Stevie, Dan or Dennon - the new boys who weren't chosen - leave.

Though according to former Casa Amor bombshell, Savanna Darnell, this isn't the worst part of the process. The 'horrendous' experience actually comes the weeks prior, while the potential Islanders are on 'lockdown', unaware of whether they will ever go onto the show.

‘I went out into lockdown at the same time as all the originals,' Savannah – who went onto Love Island over a month after the original Islanders – explained in a YouTube video posted this week. 'We couldn’t cross paths so I had to stick with my chaperone. 'I’m not allowed to say a lot but I will never forget the experience.’

‘No phone, no access to the outside world, no TV, some days you can’t even leave the hotel in case you cross paths with the other islanders,’ she continued, ‘I was going crazy every day because I didn’t know when I was going in. Ten days go by I’m still not in, Love Island has started, they’re in the villa and I’m still in this hotel driving myself insane.’

Savanna says she was told that while she wasn’t an original Islander, she would be ‘one of the first girls’ to be on the series. However, she was sent back to the UK after 10 days of isolation in a Mallorca hotel. Having been headhunted for the series with no previous wish to do reality TV, she says she went on the show to experiment with a new venture, but never expected the process to be so frustrating.

‘I remember them saying “keep your bags packed, we’re going to call you very soon, you’ll be back before you know it”,’ she revealed, ‘so I couldn’t take any jobs in case they call me and say you’re going on. I spent three weeks at home, doing absolutely nothing. I didn’t want to leave my bed and my mum was really worried about me.’

In a state of limbo, she spent near a month waiting for the call, constantly rebuffed by producers when she questioned if she was actually going in or not. ‘The whole three weeks were horrendous,’ she continued, ‘I was starting to get stress spots around my cheeks, I was putting on weight because I was binge-eating - I had just had two weeks of no carbs [before flying to Mallorca the first time] and thinking back to this time I’m thinking “omg what did I put myself through?”’

Eventually, Savanna was sent into Love Island as part of the Casa Amor bombshells, and after just five days was forced to leave because she hadn’t coupled up with anyone. Telling viewers last year that many major scenes between her and Wes Nelson were cut from the show, she returned how and was ‘fuming’ watching how little screen time she had.

‘A lot happened in that villa that wasn’t put on screen,’ she admitted. Including more emotional turmoil, it seems. Stating that she immediately felt insecure entering the villa, she says she couldn’t sleep properly being forced to share a bed with someone she didn’t know ‘or sleep outside with the cockroaches’. ‘I was waking up early every morning, crying every 5 minutes,’ she said, ‘but Jack was really nice to me, he was like “Sav babe it’s fine we were like this at the beginning”.’

And after all of that, being sent home to find her appearance and personality picked apart online, she was overwhelmed and began experiencing depression. ‘I was crying every single day, I didn’t know how to cope with life,’ she said, ‘I remember reading some horrible comments about how I was the ugliest Islander ever, that I should get breast cancer and die. That was a horrible time it my life, it was just horrendous.’

Now, Savanna is touring Europe as part of the Thriller Live musical. And while she’s seemingly found happiness beyond Love Island, her story is more concerning than ever as the Casa Amor bombshells are dropped from the villa. How do they feel after potentially spending weeks waiting for a few days on the show? And more than that, how many others are currently waiting, experiencing exactly what Savanna was? This might be the nation’s favourite reality TV show, but it seems behind the scenes are where we should really be watching.

Read more: The weirdest Love Island rules...


Love Island rules 2019 stacked

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You can’t masturbate

With rumours swirling that Sherif was booted from the villa for masturbating in the shower, The Sun reported that he would 'spend hours' in there - however, he wasn't necessarily masturbating himself. 'When producers told Islanders they have to get ready to film a challenge, Sherif was deliberately spending ages in the shower. He said he couldn't be bothered,' the source said. Avoiding challenges or participating in some healthy self-care? All we know is 2 months without masturbating is a long time to go...

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You have to shower at certain times

When writing for Grazia Daily, Zara McDermott revealed that she was most shocked to see Islanders showering in the morning. 'We could only use the shower each evening,' she said of last season. Spending all day in the sun without a morning shower? No wonder Amber was worried about smelling when she Michael went to kiss her last night.

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You can’t talk about your relationship on Saturday's

In a shock revelation on This Morning, 2017 Love Island winner Kem Cetinay revealed the real reason the show doesn't air on Saturday's. 'They give you one day off. You get one day off per week,' he said, 'What happens is, it gives them a day to clean the villa, and you take your mics off, and normally we go to the beach.'But that wasn't the only startling revelation, he also admitted that producers watch Islanders like a hawk because they're not actually allowed to discuss their relationships. Essentially, anything they have to talk about their home lives outside the villa, lest they be scolded for breaking the all important rules.

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You can only have two glasses of wine or beer on a ‘big night’

They get dressed up, put on a full-face of makeup, film awkward dance sequences, and all for two little glasses of wine or beer. According to 2016 Islander Liana Isadora Van-Riel, 'you're allowed one or two drinks a night, either wine or beer, no spirits.'And while contestants will opt for two drinks on a 'big night', most nights they just have a cup of tea. Wild.

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You can’t be naked ever, even in the bathroom

Since the villa is technically a public space, there can be no nudity whatsoever as it would be considered public indecency. That means even in the bathroom, islanders can never be completely naked in front of each other.

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You can’t read a book or magazine

We knew about the no phone rule, which makes sense given they don't want Islanders reading about themselves online or hearing updates from the outside world, but no books or magazines?! No wonder half of them end up stir crazy, with 2017 contestant Montana admitting the villa is really boring day to day.

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You have to eat at certain times

According to Montana, contestants can make their own breakfast but lunch and dinner is always catered. In fact, food is brought through a secret door. 'In the larder there's another door that goes out the back that they lock,' she said, 'That's how they deliver food.'It's long been a question why we never see the Islanders eating, but Montana stated that's when producers come in and charge the contestants microphones, insisting 'everyone wants that good because it's so yum.'

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You can’t take your mic off ever

One of the most serious rules in the villa, contestants aren't allowed to take their mic's off apart from on Saturday's, their off day. If you're caught doing it more than once, you'll be axed from the villa immediately, according to The Mirror.

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You're not allowed to know the time

You essentially have to become a full Girl Guide in the villa if you want to know the time, telling it through the sun. Because, Islanders aren't allowed to know themselves and all of their phones are set to different times. 'You never know what the time is,' 2017 contestant Montana told The Independent, 'They'll wake you up by putting the lights on or a voiceover will say "Islanders, it's time to get up".'

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You can’t smoke in the villa, even in the garden

Last year, Love Island stopped showing scenes where contestants were smoking after complaints they were all partaking in the habit too much. Now, Islanders aren't allowed to smoke on the premises at all, even in the garden.

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You can't have unprotected sex

With rumours Kem and Amber got in trouble last year for having unprotected sex, this rule seems to be even more integral this year. Discussions around sex on Love Island have snowballed massively as the seasons become more and more popular each year. While early seasons saw Islanders getting busy almost every night, in the same room with scenes often aired every episode, sex has become much more taboo - when it comes to airing it at least. Last year, producers decided to stop airing sex scenes, as well as the Islanders smoking. Given the slut-shaming many female contestants receive upon doing the completely natural act it's unsurprising.

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You have to go for scheduled chats

And they must be juicy. According to Montana, when she and fellow 2017 contestant Camilla were talking about hymms they like, producers intercepted and told them to spice it up ('that's not interesting', they said). In fact, producers will also intervene to ensure certain people talk, but the conversation itself is not necessarily staged. 'They might be like, "Camilla, pull Montana aside and ask how she's feeling about Alex"', Montana admitted.

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You’re not allowed to get waxes

It's long been wondered how the contestants keep up with their beauty routines in the villa, with not a bumpy bikini line or stubbly chest in sight. Do contestants have waxers brought in to the villa? Absolutely not, according to Montana. While the women in her season requested wax strips to do it themselves, they 'all had bruising' and so resorted to shaving, with Montana insists 'most people' do.

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You absolutely cannot have drunken sex

A huge villa no-no, drunken sex is completely off the cards for Love Island contestants. Given that they're allowed two wines or beers on big nights and most of them sip on tea all night, we're not sure that's a huge risk, to be honest.

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No inappropriate language or behaviour

One of the actually non-weird rules, contestants are completely prohibited from 'innapropriate language or behaviour'. While it's quite a broad, and subjective, phrase, the rulebook applies it to racial slurs, homophobia and aggressive language. Plus, sexual harassment and physical violence is included in this rule.One of the biggest swirling rules about Sherif's ban is that he and Anton got into a heated argument. Given that the only other villa removal we've seen because of rule-breaking was when Malia Arkian punched Kady McDermott back in season two, it's high on the list of likely reasons Sherif was banned.

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No discriminating against staff

Another non-weird rule, contestants aren't allowed to be rude or discriminatory to staff or else they will be booted off.

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They need to keep the complete rule book at all times

All of these rules must not only be obeyed at all times, but contestants must also keep the rule book in their possession too - just in case they forget about the whole no masturbating thing.

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