Bimini Bon Boulash narrates a hilarious animated dating show called Blind Love on First Date Island
Produced by Blink Industries for E4, the three-part animated show sees real-life couples take part in blind date phone calls, with each singleton's character designed by a different artist.
- Ayla Angelos
- 8 July 2021
The dating show format has reached new heights in recent years – take monster suits and getting engaged without seeing each other face-to-face as just two examples. Now, there’s another one thrown into the mix called Blind Love on First Date Island, where real-life couples take part in a blind date phone calls, which are then brought to life through animation. A three-part animated series merging the tropes of Love Island, Too Hot To Handle and First Dates, the show produced by Blink Industries for E4 is narrated by Drag Race icon Bimini Bon Boulash, and each single has been illustrated and designed by a different artist. Ben Robinson, Mike Whiteside and Oli Beale are behind the show’s creation, with James Papper on the animation direction and Campbell Hartley as the animation lead.
These singletons include the likes of George, a trans catholic school R.E. teacher, whose animated avatar is designed by Kirsty O’Rourke; and Rachel, a plus-sized model from Liverpool designed by Bridget Meyne, “who draws women with such power and strength,” says Leah Draws, producer at Blink Industries. “The characters themselves were based on the person’s real appearance, and when dealing with these ‘real’ people we felt a certain responsibility for them to be carefully and respectfully designed.” As such, the team paired each contributor with an illustrator that represented the person’s identity. “It felt like a really fun yet important and distinctively unique approach to have when collaborating with such illustrators and artists,” continues Leah. “It’s something that, to the best of our knowledge, hasn’t been done before, and we hope to see more of.”
Additionally, having Bimini narrate the series also adds to the shows commitment to inclusivity. “Bimini brings an exciting, fresh and always outrageous voice to the traditional dating show narrator role,” adds Leah. “With the show's onus on diversity and representation and highlighting the importance of one's own identity, having a non-binary and fun loving character such as Bimini at the helm feels incredibly well suited – it also helps that they’re naturally hilarious too.”
The full list of illustrators comprises Mia Saine, Chista Jarrold, Kirsty O’Rourke, Nathan Johnson, Bridget Meyne and Raj Dhunna. Working in collaboration with the team at Blink Industries, the show creators and background designer Guy Field, the visuals were inspired by a mix of references such as Ren and Stimpy, Heavy Metal (1981), Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World, Jean Giraud Mœbius and Fantastic Planet. “For us,” says fellow producer Alex Cartlidge, “little touches like the neon ‘Live Laugh Love’ sign and infinity pool that you often associate with those shows, backdropped by the void of space and our weird little Love Toad, really embodied all our ambitions for the visual language of the show as a whole.”
Working remotely and with a variety of illustrative styles posed its challenges, but the team decided to embrace the differences in order to give the show an intriguing aesthetic. The backgrounds and assets that the characters interact with remained consistent in terms of colour palette, line weight and illustration style, while the characters themselves fluctuate depending on the illustrator behind it. “The biggest technical challenge when working like this is having to switch between softwares, drawing techniques and character style guides that all differ so much,” adds Leah. “So getting the right animators and cleanup artists involve that could easily adapt while keeping a sense of continuity across each shot was super important.”
“Every designer brought something artistically exciting, fresh and different to the table,” says Alex, “and they were all given total artistic license to add some magical and cartoonish touches to bring the real people into our Blind Love on First Date Island universe, for which we're very grateful for.”
All three episodes can be watched here.
Blink Industries: Blind Love on First Date Island (copyright © Blink Industries, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.