‘We look after those we love’: Laura Whitmore says Love Island stars were ‘safer’ before show became a ‘success’ but insists duty of care is at the front of producers minds after tragedies
- The series has been marred by tragedies with contestants Sophie Gradon, 32, and Mike Thalassitis, 26, as well as host Caroline Flack, 40, taking their own lives
- Speaking about how they will protect Islanders going forward, Laura insisted on Monday’s Good Morning Britain that the team are ‘doing the best they can’
- She added that when the show felt started it only had a cult following so contestants felt ‘safe’ but now it’s harder with the show’s commercial success
Love Island host Laura Whitmore has insisted that the duty of care protocol is at the forefront of producers minds.
The series – which has been running for six years – has been marred by several tragedies with contestants Sophie Gradon, 32, and Mike Thalassitis, 26, as well as host Caroline Flack, 40, taking their own lives.
Speaking about how they will protect Islanders going forward, 36-year-old Laura insisted on Monday’s Good Morning Britain that the team are ‘doing the best they can’.
‘We look after those we love’: Laura Whitmore said Love Island stars were ‘safer’ before the show became a ‘success’ as she spoke about the new series on Monday’s Good Morning Britain
As Richard Arnold reasoned that the ‘the raw end of attention is not always ideal’, Laura responded, ‘Since last year – the duty of care -the time and attention that goes into that.
‘When Love Island started, people didn’t realise how big the show was going to get and it had quite a cult following. It felt safe.
‘Then as soon as something becomes a commercial success it’s difficult because then everyone has an opinion.’
Protection: Speaking about how they will protect Islanders going forward, 36-year-old Laura insisted that the team are ‘doing the best they can’
Laura continued: ‘Remember they are real people. They don’t realise the whole world is watching and thinks they know them.
‘We all need to be more aware – and that’s myself included – about what we put up online because it can effect people. I’ve worked in this industry for 10 years and I find it a bit overwhelming…
T’hat’s one of the things the producers have all been working with. Nobody is put on that show without going through so many interview processes and checking everything is OK.
‘We’re all trying to do the best we can. The most important thing is that it happens in the safest way. We look after those we love.’
Gone too soon: Love Island has faced backlash following the tragic suicides of season two contestant Sophie Gradon in 2018 and season three’s Mike Thalassitis in 2019
Tragic loss: Love Island host Caroline Flack was found dead at her home in Stoke Newington, London, on February 15, 2020, aged 40. She too had taken her own life
Season two contestant Sophie Gradon took her own life aged 32 in June 2018 after appearing on the show two years prior.
Love Island: When did producers announce key changes to Islanders’ duty of care?
After Mike’s death in 2019, producers announced key changes to Islanders’ duty of care and said all would be able to access therapy sessions, social media and financial training, and a minimum of 14 months of ‘proactive’ contact.
The ITV show addressed their duty of care after two islanders; Sophie and Mike and host Caroline tragically died by suicide within a period of 20 months.
Sophie, 32, took her own life back in June 2018 after appearing on season two of the show two years prior. Her heartbroken boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, 25, took his own life just 20 days later.
Mike rose to fame on the third season of the show. The 26-year-old footballer tragically lost his life to suicide a year after Sophie in March 2019.
And in February 2020, the host of Love Island, Caroline, was found dead at her home after taking her own life, a day after hearing the Crown Prosecution Service would go ahead with a trial for allegedly attacking her boyfriend Lewis Burton in 2019.
Following contestant Mike’s passing in 2019, ITV stated the team had ramped up the aftercare available to stars who appear on the show.
‘We are outlining today our welfare processes follow three key stages: pre-filming, filming and aftercare,’ creative Director ITV Studios Entertainment Richard Cowles said at the time.
‘We are increasing our post filming support to help Islanders following their time in villa.’
Her heartbroken boyfriend Aaron Armstrong took his own life just 20 days later aged 25.
Tragically, season three star Mike Thalassitis was then found dead in a park in March 2019 – after friends revealed he had been ‘in a dark place’ in the months leading up to his death.
In December that year, Caroline left her role presenting the show in the wake of her arrest over an alleged assault on her boyfriend Lewis Burton.
The presenter was found dead at her home in Stoke Newington, London, on February 15, 2020, aged 40. She too had taken her own life.
Following the tragedies, ITV reassessed their duty of care processes.
They include ‘comprehensive psychological support’ and ‘training for all Islanders on the impacts of social media and handling potential negativity’.
The protocols are in line with the show’s last series but will also now feature another clinical psychologist, Dr Matthew Gould, who joined ITV last year and will work with Dr Litchfield, an external advisor to the business.
The two medical professionals will continue to independently review and evolve the duty of care measures ITV currently has in place.
The current and full duty of care process sees comprehensive psychological support, detailed conversations with Islanders regarding the impact of participation on the show and a proactive aftercare package which offers support.
Other measures in place include training for contestants with social media, handling potential negativity, financial management and taking on management.
The duty of care process will regularly be reviewed and evolve in line with the increasing popularity of the show.
This year’s Love Island will also be following strict Covid protocols, with some of the team working remotely from the UK instead of flying to Mallorca to be near the villa.
As a result, Laura will be staying in Spain to host the show while her husband Iain Stirling records the show voiceover from London.
Laura – who welcomed a baby girl with Iain in March – joked of her partner: ‘I never see him!
‘He’s not going to be in Mallorca, he’s going to be in London. Why was he ever in Mallorca? I feel like he was the most tanned Scottish man I ever met from all his time in Mallorca!’
Separated: Laura will be staying in Spain to host the programme while her husband Iain Stirling records the show voiceover from London due to Covid protocols
The new series is set to return to screens on Monday, after last year’s installment was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.
OnlyFans star Shannon Singh, fashion blogger Kaz Kamwi, events planner Aaron Francis and PE teacher Hugo Hammond have all been confirmed as contestants on the new show.
Alongside the hopefuls is civil servant Sharon Gaffka, Nando’s waitress Liberty Poole, financial services marketing executive Chloe Burrows, semi-pro footballer Toby Aromolaran, water engineer Jake Cornish, labourer Brad McClelland and lettings manager Faye Winter.
Love Island starts on Monday at 9pm on ITV2 and ITV Hub. Episodes are available the following morning on BritBox.
LOVE ISLAND 2021: MEET THE CONTESTANTS
Sharon Gaffka, 25
Name: Sharon Gaffka
Occupation: Civil Servant – Operations Lead for Department of Transport
Who is their type on paper? ‘I tend to date someone who is taller than me, even though my last long-term partner, he was actually someone who was shorter than me.
‘I’m quite an intellectual person so I want someone who can kind of match that.’
Aaron Francis, 24
Name: Aaron Francis
Occupation: Luxury Events Host
Who is their type on paper? ‘I need someone that is passionate about what they are doing – from scientist to anything – you can tell when someone is speaking about something and they are actually smiling while they are talking. I love that.
‘I don’t like when people are doing a job just to make money and then they kind of just live for the weekend. Especially because I work on the weekends.’
Liberty Poole, 21
Name: Liberty Poole
Occupation: Nando’s Waitress and Marketing Student
Who is their type on paper? ‘So I like tall, alpha male, confident, a cheeky chappy sort of guy.
‘But obviously that’s always usually combined with player types, which is where I go wrong. So I am trying to change my ways and go for more of a nicer guy that is going to treat me right.’
Hugo Hammond, 24
Name: Hugo Hammond
Occupation: PE Teacher
Who is their type on paper? ‘I’ve been single for a while now. With the current climate, it’s been really hard to get back into dating.
‘I saw it as an opportunity to have an amazing fun summer and put myself back out there.’
Name: Shannon Singh
Occupation: Glamour model
Who is their type on paper? ‘I don’t feed off looks, I feed off energy, I need someone with personality. Just someone I can have fun with.
‘I’m a party girl, I love going out, I’m very social. For me it’s quite hard to find people who are genuine and looking for what you’re looking for’
Name: Jake Cornish
Occupation: Water Engineer
Who is their type on paper? ‘Looks wise, always gone for blondes. But for me, the main thing is having respect and having good fun, and someone who will be loyal to you…
‘I’ve had messages from girls that have got boyfriends and husbands. This is why I don’t trust anyone. Someone who is loyal really. But when I’m single, I like having a good time!
Name: Kaz Kamwi
Occupation: Fashion Blogger
Who is their type on paper? ‘I like meeting new people, I’m ready to be in a relationship. Why not be in a place where people are looking for the same things as me?’
Name: Chloe Burrows
Occupation: Financial Services Marketing Executive
Who is their type on paper? ‘I like a good build. I go to the gym. I want someone who is funny. Really funny and caring and will do nice little things for you.
‘And then obviously someone who you can depend on to not ditch you. Because I am quite a big character and quite loud, they would have to be as loud, if not more.
‘I could never be with someone who is quiet. Someone that gives you a bit back’
Name: Faye Winter
Occupation: Letting Manager
What is her type on paper? ‘Someone that will put me in my place. Someone that makes me laugh. But also someone that takes my banter. I’m like a five-year-old in a playground, if I like you, I will make a mockery of you and laugh and joke. That is my really terrible flirting skills. I need someone who can take that.’
Name: Brad McClelland
Who is their type on paper? Sommer Ray from Instagram. Zara McDermott, she’s a good-looking lass. Or Megan Fox.
Name: Toby Aromolaran
Occupation: Semi-pro footballer
How would he describe himself? ‘Optimistic. I always see the bright side in the worst situations. I’m a fun guy when I go on a night out. Responsible guy as well.’
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