ITV chief: We have a duty of care, but it ‘can't be indefinite'
ITV’s duty of care for ex-Love Island contestants cannot last indefinitely, the broadcaster’s chief has said.
Sophie Gradon, 32, who appeared on season two of the reality show in 2016, was found dead in June last year while 26-year-old Mike Thalassitis, who took part in Love Island a year later, died this month.
Following their deaths, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said reality TV shows have a duty to care for contestants after they become famous.
Some former Love Island contestants criticised the level of care they had received since leaving the show.
The show has said it will offer support to all Love Island contestants rather than just those who ask for it.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall told the Broadcasting Press Guild the deaths were “devastating” for the Love Island team because “they’re with people for nearly 10 weeks of their lives and they know everybody personally.
“They know them as people and they become friends…
“It was tragic.”
But 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.”
She added: “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?’
“That will be a big difference because we will do much more in a much more structured way, with people independent of ITV, counsellors will reach out and just make sure everybody is feeling OK.”
The ITV boss added: “I would also say that I don’t think anybody has made a direct link between what happened to Mike and Love Island.
“That would be an extremely tenuous thing to do given he was very happy on Love Island and all his mates have said that and that he’s done two other reality programmes since then….
“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.
“There has got to be a framework and it will come to an end. It can’t be indefinite.”