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I Kissed A Boy producers on future seasons: ‘We hope we’ll be lucky enough’

Exclusive: Attitude chats to I Kissed A Boy's producers about making an authentic gay dating reality TV series, safeguarding and Dannii Minogue.

By Alastair James

Dan, Ollie, Mikey, and Josh
Dan, Ollie, Mikey, and Josh on I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

We don’t know about you, but we loved I Kissed A Boy. The show, the UK’s first gay-dating reality TV series, was a big win for that reason and more.

It felt very authentic both in the people we saw represented and the stories they had the chance to share. It’s hard to think of anything like it that even comes close to that level of representation.

The eight-part series ended last week with the reunion episode airing on Sunday (11 June). Over the course of the series there was drama, love, and plenty of smooches!

With the announcement of I Kissed A Girl (IKAG) and after the culmination of the series Attitude sat down with Twofour’s Head of Entertainment, Louise Hutchinson, and Dan Gray, an Executive Producer to talk about the success of I Kissed A Boy (IKAB), making an authentic gay series, and getting Dannii Minogue onboard.

Gareth, Subomi, Ben, Ollie, Joseph, Ross, Jake, Kailum, Josh, and Bobski on I Kissed A Boy
Gareth, Subomi, Ben, Ollie, Joseph, Ross, Jake, Kailum, Josh, and Bobski on I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

Did you think you were making a ‘ground-breaking’ show? Or did you think you’re making a dating show featuring queer people?

LH: We definitely knew what a huge task and a huge privilege we had. We definitely felt an enormous amount of pressure to get this right for the [LGBTQ] community. We were very aware that it could be groundbreaking, but also, if we didn’t treat it with the respect it deserved, the community may not love it.

Was anything in place to make it as authentic as possible?

DG: Yeah. We don’t have exclusively a queer team, but we’ve had lots of queer people on the team, particularly casting. It was all about looking at the characters and stories and making sure we were doing things right. Putting together the first gay cast for a reality show in the UK is a big task. We broadly knew what we didn’t want it to be, what we hoped it would be. From the very beginning, we were always about challenging stereotypes. That was a big thing.

The boys party
The boys party on I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

With it all being over, what do you make of it all? It does seem like it’s been a huge success.

LH: We’re immensely proud of our whole team, the boys, and Dannii. We’re very lucky. Our boys came and shared their stories. They took a risk, they gave us their heart and soul and trusted us. We’re so proud of them. And Dannii was the perfect host. She loves this show, the boys, and the team more than we could have ever asked for. We all know Dannii’s an icon, but the way she gave everything is amazing.

DG: The response has been incredible. By and large, we’ve been knocked over by how positive it’s been. And a really broad audience as well, you’ve got families watching it, people that might not have known these stories. It is incredible that people have taken to it so well. The boys are loving it and we’re so proud of them.

LH: But we are grateful that the gay press has got behind it and been really celebratory. It’s the way we all feel about the show, we’ll read an article and go: ‘That’s why we made it. And that’s what we thought, that’s what we wanted. That’s what we hoped for!’ Everything has worked out brilliantly. We are over the moon. And we’re so grateful to do it again with the girls. It was always the plan when we pitched IKAB two and a half years ago and the BBC has run with that.

Dannii Minogue
Dannii Minogue on I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

Was it easy to get Dannii on board?

LH: She was very much in from the beginning. She’s embraced the show and talks to the boys as much as she can. She knows those boys inside out, she loves them. She was the one who, when the boys would leave the Masseria, was like ‘Are they okay to come have a drink with me?’ The boys would go up and sit with her for like an hour and a half and chat. That’s quite a big thing. She really wanted to do it.

DG: She gave them the best send-off.

LH: They’d have a couple of glasses of Prosecco, a lovely gossip, pictures and then we’d take the boys back to the hotel. Honestly, she’s incredible. We’re so lucky.

Was it a tough sell given the debate around gay contestants and dating shows, specifically Love Island?

LH: No. The BBC has been so supportive and done everything it can in its power to make this a success.

DG: They have trusted us and embraced the mission statement to make the show for the community. They went: ‘Go do it. Make it as gay as you possibly can.’

Bobski on I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

The show is very authentic in terms of the people, but also the conversations on the show. Did they come up naturally between the boys themselves?

LH: Very naturally. When we met the boys in auditions, we made it very clear this is a fun dating show, but also what is important to us is that we get to see the real you and you share the conversations that we haven’t seen before on these types of shows. Actually, we couldn’t stop the boys. They had so much to share. We wanted to show some depth of our characters and the journeys they’ve been on because they hadn’t always been very straightforward. Some had been very straightforward. So, it was nice to share the really positive stories then also the experiences that weren’t so positive to show the breadth of being a gay man in 2023.

Were you surprised at the breadth of the conversations?

DG: I think the environment of the shoot was so magical. Everything was all about making sure that they had the space and the freedom without any judgement to be themselves and open up. But the cast did that with each other as a support network. And it got stronger as the shoot went on. There were times it completely surprised us like Gareth’s story, when he opened up about family. We knew his situation because we had a really thorough casting process. But we had no idea it was going to come out at the end of a late-night chat. And that was because the boys were so supportive and gave each other the time and space to get to listen, which is really special.

LH: I guess it was an unusual space for the boys that they hadn’t really been in. Matty compared it to a gay bar but then also said it’s not like that. And it’s not – they’re living together, sleeping in the same bedroom, talking, and sharing these stories. We were surprised at how much came out and how fast, but also honoured that they felt so comfortable sharing the stories that some of them hadn’t really shared with many people.

Gareth opens up
Gareth opens up on I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

Was there support during the show as they were opening up and having these conversations as well as since leaving and adjusting to reality again?

DG: For sure, we were really conscious of that. There’s an amazing support network on the show. The BBC has been brilliant, TwoFour as well, in terms of our protocol, it’s so thorough, and we were able to give the right level of care throughout. And the casting process was super thorough. There are some reality shows that cast people off tape. We met the boys before they taped. We had really solid chats with them, the team, and a mental health advisor to work out whether it was safe. But ultimately, we met their family or friends, we did home visits. I’ve never felt like I knew a cast like I knew the boys. Of course, you’re always going to feel nervous, but I’ve never felt as confident or as safe in our responsibilities.

LH: We talked to the boys all the time. We still do.

DG: It’s really s family. The Tearoom, our name for the interview space, [was] so special. A lot of it’s to deliver those quick thoughts to help you cut the show. But that was such an amazing private support space. A lot of the time it’s actually to help the boys get their head around something if they’ve suddenly opened up and they need to debrief. Across the board, we’re really proud of the level of care we’ve given. They’ve also supported each other. And it’s a big group, there’s 16 of them, they’re not all going to get on with everyone in the same way. That’s life, but they do respect each other. And there are solid friendships still.

The cast of I Kissed A Boy
The cast of I Kissed A Boy (Image: BBC/Twofour)

We’ve got IKAG coming up very soon. Are we hopeful of a second series of IKAB?

LH: For now, we’ve really focused on the girls, and we hope we’ll be lucky enough to make another series of the boys.

People did want more. Would you do a longer series?

LH: We would love to make more. It’s down to the channel really. But it’s lovely to see that people want more. IKAG is nine episodes plus the reunion. But I think a 10-episode series would be perfect. Casting has started for IKAG and we’ve had such a massive response. We’re so excited to start meeting them in the next couple of weeks.

I Kissed A Boy is streaming on the BBC iPlayer now.