Love Island has paid tribute to former presenter Caroline Flack – with some fans saying they felt the show has returned to television “too soon”.
The 40-year-old took her own life and was found dead at her London flat on Saturday.
The ITV2 show was pulled over the weekend but returned on Monday with an emotional tribute voiced by Iain Stirling.
As the show opened with aerial shots of a coastline and the sea, Stirling said: “You were a true friend to me. I’m going to miss you, Caz.”
A number of fans said they felt uncomfortable watching the show after the star’s death.
One viewer wrote on Twitter: “I can’t bring myself to watch #loveisland tonight. Feel like I’m doing Caroline and her family a disservice. It’s too soon and raw.”
Another said: “I’m going to be honest. I couldn’t watch Love Island.. Felt weird.”
While someone else tweeted: “Couldnt watch love island it didnt seem right and im not the sentimental type, but i personally dont think the show will ever be the same its tainted it will always be associated with tragedy from now on.”
Others said they had to switch the show off after listening to Stirling’s tribute.
Stirling’s voice broke as he said: “We are absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away.
“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.
“Like many of you, right now we’re all just trying to come to terms with what’s happened. My only hope is that we can all try to 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.”
The tribute ended with a photo of Flack on screen.
Stirling has proved popular for his witty one-liners, but his commentary was muted during Monday’s show.
Before the show aired, ITV and Love Island sponsors Just Eat released a joint statement.
It read: “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.”
ITV cancelled its highlights show on Saturday and the main programme was pulled on Sunday “out of respect for Caroline’s family”, with the broadcaster saying she would “forever be in our hearts”.
In a statement released last night, ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo said everyone at the channel was “absolutely devastated and still trying to process this tragic news”.
He said Flack’s “passion, dedication and boundless energy” had contributed to the show’s success, and that ITV had “made it clear that the door was left open for her to return”.
He also said the Love Island production team “remained in regular contact with her” and “continued to offer support over the last few months”.
On Sunday Whitmore fought back tears as she used her Radio 5 Live show to speak out against newspapers and Twitter trolls.
She said she wanted to use her platform to “call people out”, and give Caroline “the respect she deserves, and didn’t always get”.
Flack pleaded not guilty to assaulting boyfriend Lewis Burton at a flat in London during a court hearing in December.
Her management company criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for pressing ahead with what it called a “show trial” even after her boyfriend said he did not support the case.
Actress Stephanie Davis is leading a petition for Caroline’s Law – a campaign calling for new and stricter laws to safeguard those in the public eye after claiming her friend had received death threats.
By Monday evening, it had more than 500,000 signatures.
Flack is the fourth person linked to Love Island to have killed themselves.
Sophie Gradon, a 2016 contestant, was found dead in 2018 at the age of 32.
Her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, who found her body, killed himself three weeks later, aged 25.
Mike Thalassitis, who appeared in the 2017 series, was 26 when he was found dead in a park in March 2019.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.