Nearly three million fans tuned in to see the hopeful singletons find love in the first episode of the fourth series.

The launch episode for the new series of Love Island has scored ITV2 its biggest overnight viewing figures since records began.

The episode, which aired from 9pm until 10.35pm on Monday, was watched by an average of 2.9 million viewers with a peak of 3.4 million, according to overnight ratings.

This is more than double the launch episode for last year’s series of the Caroline Flack-fronted reality dating programme, which had an average of 1.3 million viewers and a peak of 1.4 million, ITV has said.

The figures show the audience for the programme, which sees hopeful singletons live together in a Spanish villa for weeks on end in a bid to find love and win a cash prize, have grown since it started in 2015.

Love Island’s first series launched with 597,000 overnight viewers, and the opening episode of the second series in 2016 was watched by 825,000.

Monday’s series four opener surpassed ITV2’s previous overnight ratings record holder – the finale of the third series of Love Island.

The episode, which saw Kem Cetinay and Amber Davies crowned the champions, drew an average of 2.6 million viewers when it aired in July 2017.

ITV has also said the broadcast was the highest-rated programme at 9pm across all channels, and won its timeslot with a 16.4% audience share.

Fans tuned in to watch the new batch of swimwear-clad contestants get to grips with their sun-soaked home while working out their potential love matches for the fourth series.

Eleven singles looking for romance entered the villa on the Spanish island of Majorca, including EastEnders star Danny Dyer’s daughter Dani, a doctor who is taking some time away from the accident and emergency ward, a design engineer and a model.

The series had an early twist, as host Caroline told the couples who had just paired up that another male contestant would be entering the villa to shake things up.

Fans were delighted to see the show back on their screens, with many taking to Twitter to joke that their social lives were over.

Love Island continues on ITV2.