An ITV executive has said he never considered cancelling Love Island in the wake of the deaths of two former Islanders.
The ITV2 reality show came under fire following the death of series three contestant Mike Thalassitis, who took his own life in March, less than a year after series two islander Sophie Gradon.
Their deaths sparked debate over whether reality TV stars are adequately cared for after they leave their respective programmes, with Love Island’s duty of care processes scrutinised as critics called for the show to be pulled.
ITV boss Kevin Lygo has now said he did not think there was a direct connection between Love Island and the deaths of the two former participants.
“I don’t feel there is a direct connection or enough significance to cancel Love Island because someone who was on it has gone through a tragic experience,” he told an audience at ITV’s Edinburgh TV Festival slot.
He also addressed The Jeremy Kyle Show, claiming the “aggressive” nature of the morning show was the reason why they decided to pull the plug after 15 years. The decision was made after the death of Steve Dymond, who had failed a lie-detector test during an appearance on the show.
“Would we start a show like this today? I think you’d say no,” Lygo said. “It was fine in the past but today you wouldn’t have a show that was so competitive, at times apparently aggressive. We quickly thought, this is the time to end this show.”
Love Island released an updated set of guidelines to “evolve and enhance” duty of care for its participants ahead of the last series in June, with contestants now receiving bespoke training on dealing with social media, sessions with psychologists and advice on finance and adjusting to life back home.
A record 3.8 million viewers tuned in to see Amber Gill and Greg O’Shea crowned the 2019 winners.
An additional winter version of the show has since been announced.
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