Love Island airs heartbreaking tribute to Caroline Flack in first episode since her death
18 February 2020, 20:27 | Updated: 18 February 2020, 20:31
Love Island narrator Iain Stirling paid tribute to Caroline Flack at the start of the show's episode.
Stirling started the show by speaking over panoramic shots of the ocean.
He said: "We are all absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this dreadful time.
"Caroline and me were together from the very start of Love Island, and her passion, warmth and infectious enthusiasm were a crucial part of what made the show connect with millions of viewers.
"Right now we are all just trying to come to terms with what happened. My only hope is that we can all try to be kinder, always show love and listen to one another."
Holding back tears, he finished the tribute by saying: "Caroline, I want to thank you for all the fun times we had making our favourite show. You were a true friend to me. I'm going to miss you, Caz."
The tribute ended with a photo of Flack on screen.
The 40-year-old TV presenter was found dead in her east London home on Saturday, after taking her own life.
The star had been embroiled in a court case and had pleaded not guilty to assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton at her former flat in north London in a magistrates court hearing in December.
The tribute comes after host Laura Whitmore has said there will not be an Aftersun show on Monday night.
"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", she tweeted.
It was also confirmed that there will not be a Love Island: The Morning After podcast on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Downing Street said Caroline Flack's death was a "tragedy".
A Number 10 spokesman said: "Caroline's death was a tragedy and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this very difficult time."
Director of television at ITV Kevin Lygo said in a statement: "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 went on: "Love Island will return tonight and will include a tribute to Caroline that the team in South Africa and (narrator) Iain Stirling have put together.
"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."
ITV and sponsor Just Eat also said in a statement: "In light of this weekend's tragic events, Just Eat and ITV have worked with Samaritans to replace the idents for this evening's episode of Love Island so that anyone affected by Caroline's death can access support."
Following the tribute, Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore, who is also Stirling's girlfriend, tweeted: "Love you @IainDoesJokes I know that wasn't easy".
Just minutes after the on-screen tribute, Iain Stirling tweeted a link to the Samaritans number, with the hashtag BeKind.
Fans also posted their support on Twitter, with one saying: "Can’t believe we won’t see you walking into that villa again. Won’t ever forget your smile."
A second posted: "Well done @IainDoesJokes on your beautiful and touching tribute to #CarolineFlack she would be proud of you."
"I’m gonna miss you Caz’ I still can’t get my head around it, was such a fan of Caroline. Heartbreaking. Now let’s all be kind, please," said another.
Love you @IainDoesJokes I know that wasn’t easy ❤️ x— Laura Whitmore (@thewhitmore) February 17, 2020
Monday's episode was the first since Ms Flack took her own life on Saturday. The ITV programme did not air on Sunday night.
An ITV spokeswoman said: "Many people at ITV knew Caroline well and held her in great affection."All of us are absolutely devastated at this tragic news.
"After careful consultation between Caroline's representatives and the Love Island production team and given how close we still are to the news of Caroline's tragic death we have decided not to broadcast tonight's Love Island out of respect for Caroline's family.
"Love Island will return tomorrow night which will include a tribute to Caroline who will be forever in our hearts.
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 on her boyfriend, and about the pressures faced by TV celebrities from the press and social media.
Her management company criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for pressing ahead with what it called her "show trial" even after her boyfriend said he did not support it.
By Sunday 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 200,000 signatures.
The tragedy has put the spotlight back on the pressures which come with TV celebrity.
Flack is the fourth person linked to the ITV2 dating programme to have killed themselves.
Sophie Gradon, who was a contestant in 2016, was found dead at her home in 2018 at the age of 32.
Her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, who had 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.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK.