THE old saying that the course of true love never runs smoothly could not be more fitting for Love Island champs Millie Court and Liam Reardon.
The couple clawed back their romance after it was rocked by infidelity and lies to be crowned the winners of the ITV2 show.
Naysayers reckon their seven-week relationship won’t last, but Essex-born Millie, 24, and Welsh builder Liam, 22, reckon it is the real deal.
In their first interview since their triumph, Liam says with a laugh: “It’s a real-life Gavin and Stacey,” comparing their love story to that of the characters in the BBC sitcom who wed just eight months after meeting.
Millie adds: “It was a summer of a lifetime. I’ve loved every single minute of it.”
The pair were the runaway winners in Monday night’s final, getting more than 40 per cent of the vote. Their closest rivals Chloe Burrows, 25, and Toby Aromolaran, 22, got just over 30 per cent.
Millions have watched Liam and Millie’s rollercoaster romance play out in fast-forward over the past two months — and in a sign that the pace is not slowing down, the loved-up pair have already spoken about moving in together.
Liam explains: “I love where I’m from but I would like to move to somewhere new and Essex seems like the perfect place.
“I got to know some of the boys who were in the villa. We got on so well and they mentioned moving in together and they’d like to move to Essex. So that’s my plan.
“Millie and I will move in together eventually. We don’t want to jump into it straight away because we don’t want to add too much pressure.
"I think six months, then we move in together. I could build a house for us both, but that’s way down the line.”
Smiling Millie adds: “Us girls will rent a house in Essex, the boys will rent a house in Essex, see how that goes for six months and then crack on with it.
“The one thing I want to make sure is that we still stay as strong as we are now.” While their heads are talking more than their hearts when it comes to bricks and mortar, it’s a different matter when it comes to marriage.
And Millie and Liam make it clear they have also discussed having kids. Liam says: “To have children one day is something I really want.
"I said I wanted three children. I’ve had an amazing upbringing, my family being so loving. I just want to give that to my children.”
🌴 Read our Love Island 2021 live blog for the latest updates
Millie agrees, saying: “We’re both very family orientated. We both want kids. We both want to get married.”
Millie, a fashion buyer’s administrator, couldn’t hide her delight when Liam asked her to officially be his girlfriend in front of the show’s jubilant host, Laura Whitmore, during Monday’s live final.
But how will Liam top a proposal live on TV? Laughing, he says: “I’m sure I can pull it out of the bag.”
There could be a race to get down the aisle, as Chloe and Toby are the couple Millie and Liam are tipping to wed first.
Liam says: “They are obsessed with each other. If Tobes popped the question today, I wouldn’t be surprised.” Millie adds: “Chloe would definitely say yes.”
A peak audience of 3.2million expectant fans tuned in to the Love Island final, which saw Millie and Liam triumph ahead of Chloe and Toby and fellow finalists Faye Winter and Teddy Soares, both 26, and fourth-placed Kaz Kamwi, 26, and Tyler Cruickshank, 26.
But not all viewers were pleased when Millie, opening the £50,000 envelope, decided to split her winnings equally with Liam rather than take the lot.
Liam became reality television’s public enemy No1 when, at Casa Amor, he cheated on Millie with Lillie Haynes — snogging her and saying he had feelings for her.
Lillie, 22, returned to the main villa to out Liam as a cheat to a shell-shocked Millie. But just days after kicking Liam to the curb, she took him back — admitting her heart was with him.
Asked is she thought about not splitting the cash, Millie says: “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind — I was going to share that with Liam because we’re about to experience life together.”
Liam insists he would have shared the money if he had picked the envelope containing the prize, saying: “What I have with Millie money can’t buy. I would have been splitting it one hundred million per cent.”
They each plan to splash the cash on their families. Millie says: “The first thing I want to do is treat my friends and family. I want to give back to them and do something for them.”
‘IT'S A SURREAL FEELING’
Liam agrees, adding: “I want to look after my family back home as they’ve always done the best for me.” The pair are still in Majorca and will be flying back to the UK in the coming days.
They have made plenty of plans for when they return — including taking one another home to meet family members and friends.
Viewers saw Millie’s sister Jessie and mum Esme, and Liam’s parents Donna and Paul, go into the villa in the penultimate episode.
The couple’s respective parents have also met for drinks to discuss the pair’s relationship.
Liam explains: “They got on very, very well. We couldn’t be happier.”
He also admits he’s looking forward to taking Millie back to his native Wales and showing her the sights. He continues: “I’d like to take her to Pen y Fan mountain, I love a good walk.
We’ve had the ups, we’ve had the downs, but it’s been an amazing journey. I wouldn’t change it for the world
“We’d get Millie some walking boots then go with my little dog. And I’d also take her to a few pubs in town and definitely venture off to Cardiff, as it’s a cracking night out and Millie needs to experience it.”
Millie’s plans are a little more basic. She says: “If I’m going to show him a bit of Essex, it’s going to have to be Sheesh” — the Chigwell restaurant where Towie and Love Island stars are regulars.
A reunion in the UK with their fellow islanders is also on the cards. And Millie reveals some of the cast have planned to get matching tattoos.
She says: “I’m getting a red love heart on the back of my arm. Me and Mary — Chloe was going to get one as well.” Liam adds: “If we all get one that would be nice.”
Before they start their journey together, though, Millie and Liam will need to adjust to their new lives as Love Island champions.
‘WE'RE ON TOP OF THE WORLD’
Neither will have to return to their old jobs, thanks to the fact both are tipped to bank seven-figure sums over the next year through lucrative advertising deals and endorsements.
Liam says: “It’s a surreal feeling. We’re on top of the world right now and we couldn’t be happier.
“Love Island puts you in a bubble almost where nothing else matters apart from building connections with people and it gives you the opportunity to find love.
“We’ve had the ups, we’ve had the downs, but it’s been an amazing journey. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
- All the islanders will be reunited on Love Island: The Reunion – coming soon to ITV2.
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