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ITV2 says it is NOT planning to include gay contestants on Love Island

LGBT spin-off also unlikely as broadcaster doesn't want to 'over egg the pudding'

Love Island 2017: Caroline Flack

An ITV2 boss has ruled out introducing gay contestants to Love Island - because same-sex couples would "take away from the format".

The reality show proved a smash hit this summer, leading to calls for it to feature better LGBT representation.

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In July, the Daily Star reported that bosses were looking to recruit more gay and lesbian contestants.

Executive producer Richard Cowles later said doing so would be "difficult" for the main series, though expressed interest in creating a gay version of the show.

But speaking at this week's Edinburgh TV Festival, Paul Mortimer, ITV's Head of Digital Channels, shot down both ideas.

He blamed Love Island's lack of gay participants on its format, which sees the males and females take turns to choose another islander to 'couple up' with.

New contestants arrive on the island regularly, meaning that anyone who doesn't find a partner goes home.

"The format doesn't really allow it," Mortimer commented. "If you're familiar with the programme, it's about coupling and recoupling.

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"To complicate it with same-sex relationships is to take something away from the format. I know Richard said, maybe with tongue-in-cheek, that we might do a gay version one day."

However, it seems that day won't come any time soon.

Mortimer went on to rule out any direct Love Island spin-offs, as he doesn't want to milk the brand dry.

"For the moment, we're treading very carefully with Love Island, we don't want to over egg the pudding," he continued.

"That's why we're not doing a winter version of Love Island. We're doing another show that borrows a bit from Love Island, but it's not Love Island."

He was referring to newly-announced show Survival Of The Fittest.

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It involves a 'battle of the sexes' as males and females go head-to-head in physical and mental challenges - while also going on dates.

Love Island now ranks as ITV2's most watched programme of all time. Its finale this year had a record consolidated audience of 3.06million viewers.