From dating competitions to lifestyle shows, viewers around the world love soaking up the fun-filled drama of reality TV – and plenty of stars have benefitted from the genre’s popularity, too. But which reality stars have seen the most success after their on-screen appearances? 

To answer this important question, we carried out a survey to find out the shows that people love the most. From there, we investigated the stars of each show and analysed their Instagram following to predict the potential earnings gained from their Z-list fame.

Love Island is officially the UK’s favourite reality TV show

As well as gaining an international fandom, Love Island has been crowned the UK’s top guilty pleasure with over a third (35%) of the population voting it as their favourite reality TV show. 

The dating competition has gifted us plenty of iconic moments, from Hayley Hughes’ Brexit discussion back in 2018 to new dad Tommy Fury flipping his and Molly-Mae’s plastic baby. This year’s season saw contestant Whitney Adebayo rise in popularity after finding herself explaining the meaning of ‘territorial’ to her fellow contestant Jess. 

Rank Show % of people who voted for the show
1 Love Island 35%
2 Big Brother 29%
3 Made in Chelsea 16%
4 The Only Way is Essex 15%
5 Love is Blind 14%
5= Ru Paul’s Drag Race 14%
5= Below Deck 14%
6 The Bachelor 13%
6= Survivor 13%
6= Too Hot to Handle 13%
7 Summer House 9%
8 The Amazing Race 8%
8= Bachelor in Paradise 8%
8= Bling Empire 8%
9 The Bachelorette 7%
9= The Mole 7%
9= Vanderpump Rules 7%

Soon-to-be resurrected game show Big Brother claims second place, receiving nearly a third (29%) of the public’s votes. The show first aired in 2000, making it one of the longest-running reality shows in the UK – which probably explains why it’s a favourite among the older age groups: 45-54 year olds (37%) and those aged 55+ (45%). 

Following in third place is Channel 4 icon Made in Chelsea, which 16% of Brits voted as their favourite. 

Surprisingly, Vanderpump Rules ranks as one of the nation’s least favourite reality TV shows, despite receiving its first Emmy nominations for season 10 this year. The hottest cheating scandal we’ve seen in a long time between OG cast member Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss apparently wasn’t enough to impress British viewers. 

Molly-Mae Hague is the highest-earning reality star

We took a closer look at the UK’s favourite reality shows, analysing the Instagram profiles of 98 of their stars to reveal the highest earners. After doing some digging, we found that the top three are all earning over £40,000 ($50,000) per sponsored post. 

The highest earning star of all is Molly-Mae Hague. The influencer, who was a runner-up in the fifth series of the UK’s favourite reality show Love Island, brings home an estimated £61,767 ($80,000) per sponsored post on Instagram. 

Too Hot to Handle’s number one rule-breaker, Francesca Farago, comes in second place. The reality star may have cost her fellow contestants thousands of dollars, but that didn’t stop her going on to earn an estimated £48,410 ($62,000) per Instagram post. 

Ranking third among the group is Tommy Fury, another Love Island favourite and other half to Instagram powerhouse Molly-Mae, who is estimated to earn an average of £42,465 ($55,000) per sponsored post.

Other high-earning reality stars include Stassi Schroeder (£24,977) and Ariana Madix (£16,716) from Vanderpump Rules. Since the Scandoval cheating scandal broke earlier this year, Ariana has been inundated with brand deals from the likes of Duracel and Love Island USA, and has even been confirmed as one of the celebrities on the newest season of Dancing With the Stars. With this newfound popularity, we may see her start climbing to the top sooner rather than later.

Index Celebrity Show Estimated Instagram Earnings ($) Estimated Instagram Earnings (£)
1 Molly-Mae Hague Love Island $80,000.00 £61,767
2 Francesca Farago Too Hot to Handle $62,700.00 £48,410
3 Tommy Fury Love Island $55,000.00 £42,465
4 Harry Jowsey Too Hot to Handle $42,950.00 £33,161
5 Stassi Schroeder Vanderpump Rules $32,350.00 £24,977
6 Olivia Buckland Love Island $31,500.00 £24,321
7 Ferne McCann The Only Way is Essex $29,650.00 £22,892
8 Lauren Speed Love is Blind $26,100.00 £20,151
9 Megan McKenna The Only Way is Essex $25,900.00 £19,997
10 Lala Kent Vanderpump Rules $23,400.00 £18,067
11 Gemma Collins The Only Way is Essex $22,450.00 £17,333
12 Olivia Attwood Love Island $21,750.00 £16,793
13 Ariana Madix Vanderpump Rules $21,650.00 £16,716
14 Cameron Hamilton Love is Blind $21,500.00 £16,600
15 Chloe Veitch Too Hot to Handle $20,950.00 £16,175
16 Joey Essex The Only Way is Essex $18,600.00 £14,361
17 Davide Sanclimnti Love Island $18,250.00 £14,091
18 Scheana Shay Vanderpump Rules $17,500.00 £13,511
19 Chase Demoor Too Hot to Handle $17,300.00 £13,357
20 Aquaria RuPaul’s Drag Race $17,050.00 £13,164

The most profitable reality TV shows for their stars

1. Love Island

When analysing celebs’ Instagram earnings, we found that Love Island is the most profitable show for its stars – which isn’t a big surprise, considering the show’s fanbase now extends across the Atlantic.

Out of the six Love Island celebrities we researched, five rank among the top 20 Instagram earners. The average estimated Instagram earnings of the six former contestants come to an impressive £28,265 ($36,608) per sponsored post (which is less than half what the highest earner, Molly-Mae Hague, makes). 

Index Celebrity Estimated Instagram Earnings ($) Estimated Instagram Earnings (£)
1 Molly Mae Hague $80,000.00 £61,767
2 Tommy Fury $55,000.00 £42,465
3 Olivia Buckland $31,500.00 £24,321
4 Olivia Attwood $21,750.00 £16,793
5 Davide Sanclimnti $18,250.00 £14,091
6 Kady McDermott $13,150.00 £10,153

2. Too Hot to Handle

Four of Too Hot to Handle’s former contestants appear among the top 20 highest Instagram earners, making this the second most profitable show to star in.

The six former contestants we investigated make an estimated average of £22,712 ($29,417) per post – which is around £5.5k less than Love Island’s stars earn.

Index Celebrity Estimated Instagram Earnings ($) Estimated Instagram Earnings (£)
1 Francesca Farago $62,700.00 £48,410
2 Harry Jowsey $42,950.00 £33,161
3 Chloe Veitch $20,950.00 £16,175
4 Chase DeMoor $17,300.00 £13,357
5 Cam Holmes $16,950.00 £13,087
6 Georgia Hassarati $15,650.00 £12,083

3. The Only Way is Essex

The Only Way is Essex comes in third, with four former stars ranking among the top 20 Instagram earners.

Each star takes home an estimated average of £15,615 ($20,224) per Instagram post, with the highest-earning among them including Ferne McCann (£22,892), Megan Mckenna (£19,997) and, of course, the legendary Gemma Collins (£17,333).

Index Celebrity Estimated Instagram Earnings ($) Estimated Instagram Earnings (£)
1 Ferne McCann $29,650.00 £22,892
2 Megan McKenna $25,900.00 £19,997
3 Gemma Collins $22,450.00 £17,333
4 Joey Essex $18,600.00 £14,361
5 Pete Wicks $14,250.00 £11,002
6 James Lock $10,495.00 £8,103

Now you know the wonders that reality TV can do for your Instagram profile (and your bank account), do you feel the urge to apply and make your way to the top of the list?  


All survey data was taken from a survey of 1,500 general respondents in the UK, carried out in July 2023. 

To find out the highest-earning reality TV stars, we analysed the social media followings of 98 stars and contestants from popular reality TV shows. Using an Instagram earning tool, we took the average of the estimates it provided to predict how much the stars earn per post.