When 26-year-old Brad entered the Love Island villa in an attempt to find love, he knew his life would never be the same. Only he had no idea just what - or should we say, who - awaited him on the outside...
Reunited at Last
"It means the world," an emotional Brad confessed. Sure enough, after the reality star found his way onto our television screens, he also found his way into a special somebody's heart: His long-lost sister.
But the journey to discovering his past was anything but ordinary. In fact, it was a story 10+ years in the making. From his desperate attempts to connect the pieces, to the miraculous events that did just that, hang on while we rehash Brad's road to finding love - both on and off screen...
It was never supposed to happen the way that it did. Finding his estranged sister was never a part of the plan. Only from the minute Brad McClelland stepped foot inside that Love Island villa, nothing would ever be the same. But where did it all start?
Long before the world came to know the famous Brit's name, Brad's reality was actually far from glamorous. The truth? Behind those big blue eyes and charming smile, the reality star's life off-screen has had more twists and turns than we ever realized.
Growing up in Amble, the 26-year-old's childhood was anything but ordinary. "I'm one of six from my mom's side," McClelland explained. But while on paper, the young boy had 6x the love, his reality was actually quite lonely. And perhaps with good reason.
As the reality star eventually revealed, his father was never a part of the picture. “Me dad wasn’t on the scene,” Brad confessed. For the young boy, being raised without a fatherly figure was a brutal pill to swallow. Only that wasn’t where his struggles ended…
Raised by a Teen Mom
Back in 1995, when Kimberley McClelland welcomed baby boy Brad into the world, her life was changed forever. After all, she was just 17-years-old. And with her young age came an endless amount of concern. The single mom now had another person to care for, to feed, to tend to. It was overwhelming, and then some.
Sure, the inexperienced mother had all the love to give to her son. But she also had a lot of learning to do. Perhaps that's why Kimberley soon turned to a special somebody for help; someone that'd impact her baby's life more than she ever imagined...
Which brings us to another special piece to our story: Meet Joyce, a 76-year-old retired pub cleaner - otherwise known as Brad's grandma. And she took that role to a new level: "She basically kind of ended her life to look after me," McClelland recalled.
Unfortunately, his single mother had needed help, and Joyce was happy to do just that. And so, at just 4-years-old, the young and vulnerable boy packed up his bags and moved in with nana. "She gave up a lot of her time to look after me when she didn't need to."
He Found out He Had a Sister
But that wasn't the only reason Brad's younger years took him on one whirlwind of a ride. At a young age, the curious boy was told the truth about his past: He had a birth sister somewhere out there, something his mother felt he needed to know. But that didn't mean it was easy to hear.
In fact, it wasn't. Kimberley's words had cut sharper than she ever imagined, leaving her little boy with endless questions: Who was his sister? Where was she? Did she even know about him? And perhaps most importantly: did she want to know more about him?
He Tried to Look for Her
Sure enough, in the years that followed, the curious child set off to get those answers himself. From scouring through Facebook to scrolling through Instagram, Brad's search led him to every crevice of the online world. Unfortunately, all it did was lead him down a rabbit hole.
After all, he only had one tiny piece to the puzzle: His sister's first name. "Searching social media, trying to find out who she was, I just had her name," he recalled. Which meant that as hard as he may have tried, Brad's search ultimately led him nowhere. It was crushing.
His Support System
From being estranged from his parents to his unsuccessful search for his sister, Brad felt defeated. But if there was one thing pushing him forward? It was his nana. Brad's grandma stuck by his side throughout everything, showering him with all the love and support imaginable.
And it wasn't long before their relationship reached new heights. "Me and Brad are like mother and son. He sometimes calls me Mother... and I like that," Joyce confessed. So long as they were together, they could make it through anything. Or so they thought...
On a fateful day in May 2006, life as the McClelland family knew it was suddenly turned upside down. "I think it still hasn't hit me yet; what has happened. It still hasn't registered," Kimberley confessed. At just 28-years-old, she and her other children had become homeless - left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
What happened? Brad's 2-year-old brother had stumbled across one of mom's personal items. Kimberley was sure she'd safely stowed it away, only she was painfully mistaken. And as her curious little toddler began fidgeting with the shiny, little object, nothing would ever be the same.
"The Postman… Started Banging on the Front Door"
"The firemen said that if it hadn't been for the postman, we would have been dead. We can't thank him enough," an emotional Kim recalled: the single mom had been upstairs using the bathroom when her little boy began playing with a lighter he'd found on the sofa downstairs. What happened next was devastating.
In the blink of an eye, their entire home was engulfed in flames; something a nearby postman soon noticed, before coming to the family's rescue. "The postman spotted the fire from outside and started banging on the front door... There was only seconds in it," Kim recalled.
They Lost Everything
It all happened so fast. From her son's wandering eye to the postman's quick thinking, Kim and her toddler's lives were saved with mere seconds to spare. But while their lives were miraculously saved, not much else was. In fact, the single mother had lost... everything.
"We have lost everything, the telly, music center, video, all the bairns' toys, and our home," she cried of the devastation. What was she to do now? Everything she'd once worked so hard to build was suddenly gone. And as she continued to grasp her newfound reality, soon a new thought crossed her mind.
Nana Came to Their Rescue
"We will just have to rally around and give her whatever we can to get started again," Joyce explained. Sure enough, with seemingly all odds stacked against her and nowhere to turn, Kim had decided to turn to her mother for help. In mere hours, she packed up her bags and headed towards nan's Andrew Drive home.
Despite the cramped quarters, Kim, her toddler, her older son, and Brad all now resided in nana's 2-bedroom bungalow. No, it wasn't ideal. No, there wasn't much to go around. But what they did have was each other, something that kept them going through all the devastation hurled their way.
Brad's Mom Moved Away
As the struggling family continued to adjust to life under the same roof, another curveball was soon hurled their way: Kimberley had fallen in love, as she proudly revealed. But with her newfound romance came a bitter reality-check for 12-year-old Brad.
What happened? Kimberley decided to pack up her bags - again - as she headed out the door to start a new chapter with her new boyfriend. Despite moving only about 40 minutes away, her absence left lots of hardships in its shadows; something Brad soon learned the hard way.
Becoming the Man of the House
Sure, Brad was just 12-years-old. But his mother's sudden departure left lots on his plate. After all, his grandmother was getting more and more fragile by the day. "She's older and vulnerable, it's my turn to give that care back," Brad recalled of becoming the man of the house.
As for what that looked like? From weekly grocery runs to gardening outside to everything in between, the years that followed called for lots of new responsibilities. And by the time he turned 18? They reached new heights as the teen said bye to school to start a full-time job in a local factory.
His First Heartbreak
From putting food on the table to working full-time to do exactly that, Brad had grown up in the blink of an eye. But in doing so, the young adult also came to meet the love of his life: gymnast Amy Gibson. Little did he know, their story wouldn't have a happy ending.
What happened? Unfortunately, by 2019, Brad's 7-year relationship with his childhood sweetheart came to a sudden end. And it hurt, badly. "When he and Amy split up, he was heartbroken. There's no other word for it," Joyce recalled of her grandson's first heartache.
"What Will I Do?"
"He was asking me, 'Nana, what will I do?' and I just had to say... there was nothing," Joyce recalled. Brad was lost. But those same feelings of confusion would soon steer him in a completely new direction - one that'd lead him to his final destination.
As the devestated teen continued to mend his broken heart, his nan's comforting words soon struck a chord with him: "Sometimes… things just aren't [meant] to be, and you have to try to get over it," she assured. And it was at this very moment Brad knew exactly what he had to do.
Ready for Love
The hopeful romantic decided to join the online dating world in hopes of moving on. And it was... working. The formerly heartbroken Brit was finally hopeful about the future. But with that, soon came a new realization: sure, he was ready to find love again, but swiping right simply wasn't cutting it...
"It's just small talk," as he put it. "You match with someone, you say, 'hello, where are you from?' and the conversation stops, and you're onto the next one." And so, with his time online not panning out as planned, an eager Brad decided to take a leap of faith like never before.
The Start of Love Island
On June 28, 2021, Brad McClelland's leap of faith led him to the most unexpected of places: Our television screens. After stepping foot inside Love Island's Mallorcan villa, the blue-eyed charmer instantly caught viewers' attention. And with good reason.
"I don't have a game plan. I am just going to be myself as that's what got me on the show to start with, and it has always worked for me," Brad assured. From his charming looks to his refreshing honesty, the self-professed Nana's Boy had all the ingredients of a star in the making…
A Star Is Born
Sure enough, nobody was ready for the storm that was Brad McClelland. In the blink of an eye, the small-town boy from Amble had found his face on screens all over the world. From heartbroken to stealing hearts, the handsome charmer had officially made it big.
As the weeks continued to pile on, so did the reality star's following count. He had welcomed over 500 thousand new followers on Instagram. Little did Brad know, his newfound fame was soon going to change the course of his life forever - all thanks to one stranger...
A Special Love Island Fan
You see, there was one viewer in particular who soon stood out from the rest… someone who was just as curious about Brad McClelland as he was about them. And while they'd also spent their entire life chasing answers, those very answers were about to hit them right in the face.
Sure enough, thousands of miles away from Marbella, Spain, one fan was about to turn the reality star's life upside down. Any guess who we're talking about? Of course, his long-lost sister. Safe to say, after flicking on her TV one fateful evening, she could never have prepared for the shock that awaited her.
His Sister Recognized Him
As the 15-year-old teen tuned into the latest episode of Love Island, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Smiling before her on her television screen was a person she’d heard about almost all of her life. Someone she spent endless hours - years - wondering about.
To the rest of the world, he was the blue-eyed heartthrob from Amble. But to her? She knew him in a different way. And she couldn’t believe her eyes. After all these years spent searching, here he was, propped directly in front of her: Her long-lost brother.
She DM'd Him
She knew she couldn't ignore the signs the universe was sending her. She had to act fast. She opened her Instagram app and typed in "Brad McClelland." But what would she even say? After all, her brother was a TV star now. Would he even come across her story, yet alone believe it? The stakes were higher than ever before.
But despite the nerves, she had to get her answers once and for all. She was so close to the truth, she could practically feel it. With trembling hands, the young girl typed up a message to the stranger on her screen. She took a deep breath and hit 'Send.' There was no going back now.
He Was Caught off Guard
On a fateful day in July 2021, Brad McClelland received the surprise of his life as he scrolled through his flooded inbox. As he continued to sift through his fan messages, suddenly one stood out from the rest. The user's name sounded so familiar - too familiar. Where had he heard it before?
He clicked on her message, curious as to who she was and what she had to say. Only as soon as he saw the words written before him, everything became clear. But it couldn't be... could it? Was his birth sister truly on the other side of his screen? He couldn't believe his eyes.
“I FaceTimed Her for the First Time"
"She reached out... and I FaceTimed her for the first time," Brad recalled of the events that soon followed: indeed, his sister had found him. It was overwhelming, and then some. After 15 years leading separate lives, his long-lost sister's path had finally led her to him - all thanks to a dating show. It was surreal.
And as Brad wiped those tears from his eyes, he knew exactly what he had to do next. He wanted to meet his baby sister face to face - not behind an iPhone screen. But would she feel the same? Sure enough, she did. Perhaps that's why it's no surprise what happened next...
Together at Last
"It means the world," the emotional star recalled. On a fateful day in July 2021, Brad McClelland's quest for answers came to a sudden end as he came face to face with his long-lost sister; a journey 10+ years in the making. But with their remarkable reunion soon came a new wave of thoughts.
After all, there was no denying the elephant in the room: they'd missed out on endless years together - 15 years' worth of milestones and memories they'd never get back. Safe to say, they've since made up for lost time and then some. "She's my absolute comfort, and she doesn't even know it!" he gushed.
Another Missing Family Member
But while the biggest puzzle piece has finally been found, that's not where this story ends. There are still several questions that remain, including one that's gone unanswered since Brad was born: now that he's found his birth sister, what about his birth dad?
After all, the reality star had only ever seen his father once. Would he also try and reach out after seeing Brad on his TV screen? "If he wants to get in touch, he gets in touch. If he doesn't, then it doesn't make any difference to me," Brad confessed. After all, "I've lived 26 years of my life without him doing alright."
How Did His Siblings Feel?
From reuniting with his birth sister to a potential reconciliation with his pops, Brad's life had done a total 180. But how did his other siblings feel about it? Were they also as eager as the 26-year-old to reunite with their past? Or perhaps did they have their concerns?
"They're in the same boat as me, apart from they've had less opportunities, and they're younger," Brad revealed. "I try to spend as much time with them as I can… so another sibling is a massive thing." From the sounds of it, they've also welcomed their latest addition with open arms…
A Love Island Update
But while his journey to finding love may have unintentionally cracked one of the biggest mysteries of his life - what about his time in the villa? Did he end up finding love? After all, when Brad set off for Mallorca this summer, he had one goal and one goal only: finding "the one."
Sure enough, (*spoiler alert*) after sacrificing himself for his love interest, Lucinda, it appeared he was well on his way to finding "the one." But did he and his cast-mate get that happy ending on the outside? "We're not just friends, but it's very early stages, so there's no label," Linda revealed.
Love in the Oddest of Places
Safe to say, whether he and Lucinda make it on the outside or not, there’s one thing we do know: Brad finally found that love he set off for when he first stepped foot in the Love Island villa back in June - even if it looks slightly different than he envisioned...
As TV presenter Ranvir Singh put it, "You found love in a different way, right? You found family love." From small-town boy to international star, Brad McClelland's life has changed in more ways than fathomable. "If anything's come of my Love Island experience, it's obviously finding [my sister]," he gushed.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Well, what now? Where does he go from here? "My plan is obviously now to have a relationship with her," the reality star proudly assured of his baby sister. Despite welcoming a new life of fame and fortune, Brad McClelland is still the same Nana's Boy who once devoted his whole life to bringing his family together.
"You go on [Love Island] to find love in that way, but it's not always guaranteed," the 26-year-old confessed. "But what is guaranteed? Is what you've got at home before you left." And while he may not have walked home with that 50k or the love of his life, we'd say Brad McClelland is officially a winner...
Is Brad Dating This Reality Star?
When Brad first entered the villa, he had one thing on his mind: finding love. And while he may not have walked out of there hand-in-hand with Lucinda (or any other islander, for that matter), there may be a new love interest in McClelland's life: Chloe Veitch.
Name ring a bell? There's good reason for that. The actress, too, became a household name after starring in Netflix's Too Hot To Handle. As fans were quick to notice, though, reality-tv stardom might not be the only thing she and Brad have in common. Recently, Brad sparked romance rumors after liking a string of her Instagram posts.
While only time will tell which lucky lady ultimately wins over our charming Brit's heart, there's one thing we do know: the friendships formed inside that villa were all too real. Look no further than Brad's heartwarming bonds with his fellow islanders.
From nights out on the town to birthday parties, McClelland's had no problem documenting his post-villa adventures on our feeds. Not only has he grown close with endless cast-mates, including Jake Cornish, Liberty Poole, and Chuggs, but former islanders have also reached out to him. "I've spoken to a lot of them," Brad revealed.
His Post-Villa Ventures
But Brad's time outside of the villa has actually called for lots more than just boy's night outs or birthday celebrations. The 26-year-old has already made major business moves since saying bye to Majorca. In fact, there's a good chance you've since caught him on your screen...
From hosting meet-and-greets to explosive interviews to, of course, the Love Island season 7 reunion, McClelland hasn't slowed down one bit. Which brings us to another update on the reality star's whereabouts: a fiery feud none of us ever saw coming...
His Brewing Feud With Laura Whitmore
On September 5, 2021, as our islanders took a spot in the hot seat for the long-anticipated reunion special, something unexpected happened: a rift was ignited between Brad and Love Island host, Laura Whitmore. What happened? According to McClelland, perhaps it was a long time coming.
"I'm sick of answering that question," the reality star confessed, after Whitmore asked his thoughts on seeing his ex Lucinda couple up with Aaron in the villa. Perhaps that's why he decided to answer her question with a sarcastic joke. "Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer," he shaded.
But forget Brad's love life - or lack thereof - for a second. If there's one thing that hasn't been talked about excessively? It's his earnings ever since entering the villa: just how much exactly has the reality star pocketed thanks to his time on Love Island?
According to The Sun, islanders such as Brad are paid £250/week during production. But while that might not seem like much, it's their time out of the villa that calls for real paydays. As Who's Listening U.K. estimated, McClelland is already making as much as £2-3,000/Instagram post. And he's not the only one...
Many other islanders have gone on to pocket a pretty penny from their time on our screens. So much so, that many former Love Island stars have managed to turn their newfound online fame into a 9-5 job. Look no further than Molly-Mae Hague. (Psst, we suggest taking a seat for this...)
While the season 5 runner-up may not have walked home with that £50,000 check, we'd say she's doing just fine. According to The Sun, Hague has become one of the most successful influencers to ever grace the villa. How successful are we talking? The blonde beauty currently rakes in an estimated £13,000/Instagram post. Yes, really.
Land a Spot Inside the Villa
From Brad's remarkable reunion with his long-lost sister to Molly-Mae Hague's record-breaking paychecks, Love Island has changed lives in more ways than fathomable. And while the villa's doors are now officially closed until next year, don't go anywhere just yet.
In fact, who knows? It could be one of us finding love under the Spanish sun next summer. Think you have what it takes? ITV is currently looking for "vibrant singles" to join the upcoming 8th season. Head on over to their official IG @loveisland to join in on the fun.