Tottering hand in hand into the Love Island villa with their platinum blonde locks, mahogany tans, false lashes and nails, 20-year-old twins Eve and Jessica Gale looked like a pair of identical plastic, Playboy Bunny Girls.
So far, so predictable, given that they are competing in the new winter version of the ITV2 show in which contestants, rarely out of swimwear, parade their pumped-up, ripped and surgically-enhanced bodies around in a bizarre dating arena, watched by millions.
While the first question many viewers ask themselves is: why on earth would they do that to themselves, the second, hot on its heels, is: what must their parents think?
Well, not only is their father glowing with pride at their performance on the show, it turns out that appearances can be deceptive.
Behind the bimbo curves, the sisters boast a string of A-stars and As at GCSE and A-level and both are at top universities. Eve is reading geography at King’s College London, while Jess is studying psychology at University College London.
Tottering hand in hand into the Love Island villa with their platinum blonde locks, mahogany tans, false lashes and nails, 20-year-old twins Eve and Jessica Gale looked like a pair of identical plastic, Playboy Bunny Girls
Indeed father Brian, 66 and an OBE, (pictured) is incensed by some of the comments that have dogged his daughters
Indeed father Brian, 66 and an OBE, is incensed by some of the comments that have dogged his daughters. He has even taken to Twitter, posting: ‘Love Island. Eve and Jess. For the doubters. It is possible to be a girl, look really good, wear make-up, dye your hair blonde and still go to a good university.’
He also reacted to comments about photos of the girls when they were 16 — shared on Twitter by an old school friend. With their silky auburn hair and natural, fresh-faced beauty, they bear little resemblance to the pouting, blonde bombshells we see today.
‘Love Island twins Eve and Jess look great with red hair as well as with blonde hair,’ tweeted Brian.
But surely few undergraduates at Russell Group universities have their sights set on becoming reality TV stars, with all the public soul-bearing and resulting humiliation that usually entails.
So what has led these middle-class girls, with the potential for such glittering futures, to join the masses — close to 100,000 — desperate for a place on the show?
The auburn-haired 16-year-olds. Their father Brian, 66 and an OBE, is incensed by some of the comments that have dogged his daughters
A friend of the twins’ told the Mail that, by casting them as femmes fatale, the producers are projecting a false image
They were raised in a four-bedroom detached house, with a huge garden, in picturesque Waterbeach, north of Cambridge.
Brian and wife Mary, 54, — who now live in Cambridge — sent them to Waterbeach Primary School before they moved on to Cottenham Village College, then rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted. Family includes a half-sister — Harriet, 37 — from their father’s first marriage who lives with her husband and their children, and tunes in each night to see how they girls are getting on in the villa.
‘My children miss them massively,’ Harriet told the Mail this week. ‘They’re wonderful aunties.’
Responding to comments about the loyalty the twins have shown one another, in not competing for the same male contestant, Harriet added: ‘They’re wonderfully loyal to each other and everybody.’
On the subject of the school photos of her sisters — with some online commentators suggesting the girls have since had plastic surgery — Harriet said: ‘Everybody looks different from when they were children.’
Brian also tweeted to say he was ‘extremely disappointed for Eve’ after she was sent home from the show last night
The twins’ grandparents are equally proud. John, 94, lives with wife Molly, 78, in a three-storey detached Georgian house close to Brian and Mary. Molly smiled as she told us: ‘They’re our lovely granddaughters,’ before explaining that she’d been asked to refer all journalists to the ITV press office, an edict apparently issued to all contestants’ relatives.
There is also a half-brother, Joseph, 39, and he and Harriet, who considers the twins to be sisters, not half-sisters, were raised by their father and Mary.
Brian, who got his OBE in 2016 for his efforts as director of policy and campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society, was no doubt a driving force behind his daughters’ academic success. His Twitter feed, prior to their TV appearance, largely consisted of links to articles about education.
However, far from spending all their evenings poring over textbooks, Eve and Jess started capitalising on their looks early. Their first employment was as ‘shot girls’, delivering drinks to customers’ tables, often in return for generous tips, at the Fez Club in Cambridge, aged 18.
After moving to London late last year for college, they got work as VIP waitresses and hostesses at Chelsea’s Cuban-themed nightclub, Embargo Republica
They also did shifts at Lola Lo, another of the city’s clubs, handing out wristbands and helping to promote the venue.
After moving to London late last year for college, they got work as VIP waitresses and hostesses at Chelsea’s Cuban-themed nightclub, Embargo Republica. The twins were ‘very good’ at their jobs, which paid £12 an hour, plus a share of the service charge — so good, in fact, that one night they earned £150 each in tips, according to a club spokesman.
‘It’s a very sociable job. If customers have a very good experience they will come back for the same waitress,’ said the spokesman.
It is likely to have been here that they were spotted and ‘poached’ by the Love Island crew.
The girls are also, with their mother, directors of a management consultancy set up by Brian after he left his charity role, latest accounts for which show assets worth a total of £7,812.
However, it’s their more visible assets that have been attracting attention. Anticipating the novelty of identical twins joining the line-up for the first time, they arrived at the Cape Town set a day after everyone else, under instructions to split up already established couples.
Anticipating the novelty of identical twins joining the line-up for the first time, they arrived at the Cape Town set a day after everyone else, under instructions to split up already established couples
Although both were attracted to scaffolder Callum Jones, 23, Jess allowed Eve to prise him away from Shaughna Phillips, 25, while she stole former pro footballer, Mike Boateng, 24, from under the nose of Leanne Amaning, 22.
The scenes attracted attention on social media with commentators mocking the twins for one minute saying they never argue over a man when, soon afterwards, Jess told Eve: ‘You’re doing my f***ing head in, I like that one.’
Once again, Dad was quick to jump to his girls’ defence, tweeting: ‘I have seen them have a bigger disagreement over a T-shirt.’
Unfortunately for Jess, after one night with her, Mike announced he couldn’t repeat the experience as he still had feelings for Leanne.
A friend of the twins’ told the Mail that, by casting them as femmes fatale, the producers are projecting a false image.
‘The show makes them look a bit catty and they’re not like that at all,’ said the girlfriend, who has known them for two years but asked not to be named. ‘They’re really lovely. I’ve never heard a bad word said against them.’
The friend believes the twins are good role models for the show’s young audience. ‘A lot of young people watch Love Island.
‘I have younger sisters and it’s nice to be able to say to them: “Those girls are at university.”’
Despite his public support, one suspects their doting dad had very different ideas about how his clever girls would make their mark on the world.
Additional reporting: STEPHANIE CONDRON