Iain Stirling paid an emotional tribute to his friend and colleague Caroline Flack on Monday evening’s Love Island.
Flack’s family announced she had died on Saturday 15th February after her lawyer told Associated Press she had taken her own life.
The show was pulled from the schedules for two nights as a sign of respect to her family, and returned on 17th February with a sombre start.
The voice of Love Island Stirling began the episode by saying: “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 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 this show connect with millions of viewers.
— Love Island (@LoveIsland) February 17, 2020
“Like many of you, right now we’re all just trying to come to terms with what has happened. My only hope is that we can all try and be kinder, always show love and listen to one another.
“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 gonna miss you Caz,” Stirling concluded, his voice appearing to break, as a picture of Flack appeared on screen.
The episode continued with low-key narration from Stirling in contrast to his usual irreverent voiceover work.
Earlier in the day, Love Island had announced it would be swapping its sponsor idents for Samaritans contact details.
In a statement, ITV and commercial partner Just Eat explained the decision, saying: “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.”
The statement was accompanied by a message from the broadcaster’s director of television Kevin Lygo praising Flack’s “dedication and boundless energy”.
“Everyone at ITV is absolutely devastated and still trying to process this tragic news,” said Lygo. “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.
“Love Island will return tonight and will include a tribute to Caroline that the team in South Africa and 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.”