ITV say ‘door was open’ for Caroline Flack return as Aftersun is cancelled

By Julia Hunt, PA Entertainment Correspondent

ITV has said the “door was open” for Caroline Flack to return to Love Island and that its production team “continued to offer her support” in the months before her death.

The broadcaster confirmed Monday night’s episode would contain a tribute to Flack put together by the team and narrator Iain Stirling.

Meanwhile ITV director of television Kevin Lygo confirmed companion show Love Island: Aftersun would not air on Monday while the Morning After podcast would also not take place on Tuesday.

The Love Island highlights show did not air on Saturday and the main programme was pulled on Sunday after former host Flack was found dead at her home in east London, having taken her own life.

In a tribute to Flack, Mr Lygo said: “Everyone at ITV is absolutely devastated and still trying to process this tragic news. Caroline was part of Love Island from the very beginning and her passion, dedication and boundless energy contributed to the show’s success.

“After Caroline stepped down from the show ITV made it clear that the door was left open for her to return and the Love Island production team remained in regular contact with her and continued to offer support over the last few months.”

He added: “Caroline loved Love Island and was very vocal in her support of the show. Viewers could relate to her and she to them and that was a big part of the programme’s success. We will all miss her very much.”

It came after Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore posted a message on Twitter about Monday’s spin-off programme, saying: “There won’t be an Aftersun show tonight, big love to a brilliant and hard working team.

“@LoveIsland is on at 9pm… please show the islanders some love.”

Flack stepped down from presenting the current winter series of the ITV2 dating show after an alleged assault.

Caroline Flack (Matt Crossick/PA)

The TV star pleaded not guilty to assaulting boyfriend Lewis Burton at a flat in north London during a court hearing in December.

On Friday, ambulance crews were called to a property in Clapton, north-east London, where Flack was thought to have recently moved – but a London Ambulance Service spokesman refused to confirm or deny reports that paramedics attended her flat.

An LAS statement said: “We were called shortly after 10.30pm on 14 February to a residential property on Northwold Road, N16.

“Crews attended and, following a clinical assessment, the person was not taken to hospital. Due to patient confidentiality we cannot comment further.”

LAS also said crews were called to Northwold Road at 2.30pm on Saturday, adding that “a person was pronounced dead at the scene”, but would not comment on whether the two incidents were linked.

The shock news prompted a flood of tributes from celebrities, but it also brought questions about the decision to persist with prosecuting Flack for the alleged assault, and about the pressures faced by TV celebrities from the press and social media.

Her management company criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for pressing ahead with what it called a “show trial” even after her boyfriend said he did not support it.

By Monday evening, an online petition calling for a Government inquiry into “the practices and policies of mainstream media organisations and social media platforms in their efforts to protect members of the public from harm” had more than 500,000 signatures.

The tragedy has put the spotlight back on the pressures that come with TV celebrity.

Flack is the fourth person linked to Love Island to have killed themselves.

Sophie Gradon, a 2016 contestant, was found dead in 2018 at the age of 32. Her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, who found her body, killed himself three weeks later. He was 25.

Mike Thalassitis, who appeared in the 2017 series, was 26 when he was found dead in a park in March last year.

Speaking ahead of the Love Island tribute to Flack, shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin said: “Caroline Flack was relentlessly trolled online, but this trolling was amplified and legitimised by the mainstream press and they should not be allowed to dodge their share of the blame.

“We urgently need new laws to curb abuse and ensure vulnerable people are safe online – and we need to hold the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry to protect victims of press abuse and intrusion.

“The current system simply isn’t working. This tragic death should be a wake-up call for a Government that has failed victims by refusing to act.”