ITV’s chief executive has denied there’s a “direct link” between Love Island and the tragic death of Mike Thalassitis - and said the show can’t offer aftercare “indefinitely”.
Mike passed away aged 26 earlier this month, less than two years after he appeared on the ITV2 dating contest.
This came just nine months after the passing of another Love Island star, Sophie Gradon.
The shocking news prompted debates about contestants’ exposure to instant fame, and whether producers do enough to support them.
Now ITV exec Carolyn McCall has addressed the situation, saying the loss of Mike has been “devastating” to network staff.
Speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild (via the Evening Standard), she denied a “direct link” between Love Island and Mike’s death, pointing out that he’s since been involved in two other major reality shows.
“I don't think anybody has made a direct link between what happened to Mike and Love Island,” she said.
“That would be an extremely tenuous thing to do given he was very happy on Love Island and all his mates have said that and that he's done two other reality programmes since then.”
Carolyn also says that ITV cannot look after Love Island contestants “forever”.
“We can do everything we possibly can to look after people and to do our duty of care but you can't do that forever with an individual,” she commented.
“There has got to be a framework and it will come to an end. It can't be indefinite.”
However, the broadcaster that it will improve Love Island’s aftercare procedures in the future.
Carolyn admitted that, previously, the production team only initiated contact when they noticed islanders being trolled on social media.
“We would scan what was going on in social media to know what contestants were doing,” she explained. “But we weren't in a structured way contacting all of them.
“We relied on them to tell us, or if we saw someone being trolled, for instance, the team would then reach out and say, 'Do you need some help? Do you want to come in?’
“We will do much more in a much more structured way, with people independent of ITV.
"Counsellors will reach out and just make sure everybody is feeling OK.”
In a statement, bosses plegded to be more proactive, checking in with all participants, not just those that reach out.
Future stars will also receive training in social media and financial management.