ITV chief: Love Island and Mike Thalassitis death link would be 'extremely tenuous'
29 March 2019 - 9:00 AM

ITV chief: Love Island and Mike Thalassitis death link would be 'extremely tenuous'

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ITV's chief executive says it would be "extremely tenuous" to link "Love Island" to former contestant Mike Thalassitis" recent death.

Mike was found dead aged 26 near his Essex home earlier this month, and while Dame Carolyn McCall insists the show does have a duty of care to its contestants, she says the channel "can't do that forever with an individual".

She told the Broadcasting Press Guild: "I don't think anybody has made a direct link between what happened to Mike and "Love Island" and that is very important to say.

"It would be an extremely tenuous thing to do given he was very happy on "Love Island" and all of his mates have actually said that, and he has done two other reality TV shows in the two-year gap.

"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.

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"There has got to be a framework and it will come to an end. It can't be indefinite."

Carolyn admitted Mike's death was "devastating" for the "Love Island" crew because they work with contestants "for nearly 10 weeks of their lives and they know everybody personally".

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She added: "They know them as people and they become friends ... it was tragic."

Carolyn admits ITV "scan" former "Love Island" contestants" social media, but they weren't contacting each one "in a structured way" - but that will be a "big change" the network makes.

She added: "People should not have assumed that we didn't have a duty of care because we did have a duty of care and we had clear processes and procedures. We've been evolving them.

"The social media haste and sometimes nastiness ... It's moving so quickly that you have to keep changing and reviewing what you do on an ongoing process.

"We had already changed some of those processes in light of that ... and we will continue to do that.

"We would scan what was going on in social media to know what contestants were doing on social media but we weren't in a structured way contacting all of them.

"That will be one big change for us.

"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?" "

Carolyn's comments come just days after Richard Cowles, creative director of ITV Studios, admitted contestants on the ITV2 dating show will receive more support and ITV will be "proactively checking in" with former "Love Island" stars "on a regular basis".

He wrote: "When something so awful happens we naturally enter a period of soul searching and ask whether anything could have been done. This review has led us to extend our support processes to offer therapy to all Islanders and not only those that reach out to us. And we will be delivering bespoke training to all future Islanders to include social media and financial management. The key focus will be for us to no longer be reliant on the Islanders asking us for support but for us to proactively check in with them on a regular basis ... We work with an independent GP and a psychological consultant to provide an assessment of the physical and mental health of each of the shortlisted cast members and their suitability for inclusion."

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