Love Island star Liam Llewellyn has broken his silence after his shock exit from the show, telling MailOnline he couldn’t cope with his actions being controlled by producers.
The Welsh student, 23, who quit after just six days in the villa at the start of the series, says he underestimated how being filmed 24/7 would impact him mentally, knowing his every move was being watched and edited unfavourably.
And he believes former co-star Luca Bish, 23, won’t be happy when he finds out producers have made him look like a controlling misogynist.
Liam said: ‘I thought I was going to have the summer that everyone dreams of but now I’m living with no regrets, I took a chance but I realised I can’t live on TV.
‘I was expected to do things for a TV show and I couldn’t be myself. I didn’t want to do it. It is a TV show and it is produced. It’s not all natural.
‘In my head I was not in the right position to take part in a TV show because that’s what you’re doing. You have to go on dates, do challenges, and you’re not in control of any of it.
‘On my dates they asked me to repeat things because it didn’t quite come through.
‘I had loads of meetings with the execs, the series editor, and professional physiologists but after a couple of days of feeling the way I did, I made the decision on my own behalf that it wasn’t right for me to carry on.’
Liam was coupled up with Gemma Owen, 19, courtesy of a viewer’s vote but they were only together for a matter of days.
She’s since been in a pair with Luca, who’s one of the show’s original Islanders, but in recent weeks the fishmonger has come under fire for his controlling manner.
Earlier this month, charity Women’s Aid issued a warning to the male stars of the show, and Luca in particular, for their misogynist behaviour.
Luca has been called out for ‘bullying’ fellow contestant Tasha Ghouri, 23, who he’s constantly branded ‘fake’ and he accused his own partner Gemma of flirting with other contestants – despite encouraging the boys to be unfaithful during Casa Amor.
He even stormed out of the villa this week after arguing with Gemma over her playfully licking Adam Collard, 26, during a challenge.
Liam believes Luca has been a victim of the show’s harsh editing process and their bid ‘to make drama’, saying he’s nothing like how he is currently being portrayed.
He explained: ‘I know Luca and what he’s really like and it’s nothing like as he’s coming across.
‘All of a sudden, the edit he’s getting isn’t quite justified. It is hard for me to sit here and watch that while the viewers are forming opinions whereas if you spent 10 minutes with him that would change.
‘Any opinion people have about the show I’m thinking you have no idea, I think if only you knew. You’re seeing such a small segment they really don’t know what’s going on.
‘It’s a TV show, they have to make drama and turn something that’s small into something big and the viewers get lost in all of that.’
Liam also has sympathy for Jacques O’Neill, 23, who quit the villa 17 days ago – after show bosses introduced ex-Islander Adam solely to interfere with his relationship to Paige Thorne, 24.
The hunk admits he’s reached out to Jacques and the pair will meet up once the series ends.
Liam said: ‘I reached out to Jacques as soon as he made that decision. I found it a really tough watch and it took me back, feeling the way I did.
‘I know we both had completely different experiences, but I reached out to him, and he said he appreciated my message and we’re going to meet up and have a chat.’
However, Liam admits Welsh compatriot Paige is his favourite girl in the villa, despite never coupling up with her.
He added: ‘Gemma is a really good-looking girl but I’d say Paige is up there for me.
‘She’s a really lovely girl, attractive. We got along quite well in there and she’s a class girl.’
Liam was handpicked to be on Love Island after being approached by casting producers to take part.
His initial reaction was to turn down the opportunity, but his family encouraged him, including rugby star dad David, to take a chance.
He quickly realised that he couldn’t forget about the hundreds of cameras at the villa as well as the behind-the-scenes crew that accompany the stars on their dates.
Liam explained: ‘I didn’t apply for the show I was approached and even then, I thought ‘nah’ but I got offered the opportunity and didn’t think I could turn it down.
‘You get in the villa and it’s an unnatural environment. At first, I thought I’d settle in and I’d be fine but as the days went on I realised that wasn’t changing for me. If anything, it was getting worse.
‘Some of the cameras are hidden but there are surrounding areas in the villa where they shuffle panels, you hear them shuffling, there’s a massive camera that swings around the garden – I called it the TV camera – if that’s on you, you know you’re live.
‘You know when that camera is on you and you’re having a conversation that’s getting a bit juicy… it’s on you. There’s a team of 12-15 around you when you’re on dates, walking around, it’s a proper set on dates.’
While Jacques was seen sobbing on screen breaking the news of his departure to the cast, Liam didn’t appear to shed a tear.
But he says away from the cameras he went through severe emotional turmoil and was ‘gutted’ being faced with such a decision in a pressurised environment.
He said: ‘I’ll admit that behind closed doors I was getting very emotional.
‘It was a big decision to make, and you don’t make those kinds of decisions without having that mental battle with yourself.
‘I was confused and gutted about the way I was feeling. My body was there but my head was miles away.
‘I couldn’t narrow it down to one word, but I was so overwhelmed. I have never felt like it before and I don’t think I ever will ever because being on Love Island is the biggest of all stages.
‘When you have that gut feeling and believe you’re not your normal self, you can’t be afraid to make that choice, even if it’s scary at first.’