Love Island has returned and paid an emotional tribute to Caroline Flack, the UK reality show’s former presenter who died on Saturday. In Love Island‘s first episode since Flack took her own life, narrator Iain Stirling opened the show with some words about his former colleague set to scenes of rolling seas and rugged shores.
“We are all absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away,” Stirling said, his voice cracking. “Like many of you, right now, we are just trying to come to terms with what happened.”
He added: “My only hope is that we can all 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 favorite show. You were a true friend to me. I’m going to miss you Caz.” You can watch the tribute below:
Earlier in the day, ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said Flack’s “passion, dedication and boundless energy” contributed to Love Island‘s success. “Everyone at ITV is absolutely devastated and still trying to process this tragic news,” he said.
Amid criticism that ITV turned its back on Flack after she was charged last year with assaulting her boyfriend, Lygo said it was made clear to her that she could return to presenting Love Island. “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,” he added.
Monday’s episode continued as normal following the tribute to Flack, albeit with a slightly more sober tone to Stirling’s usually acerbic voiceover. Sponsorship messages around the show were also replaced with messages to call the Samaritans if people want to talk about their mental health. The winter season, the first of its kind on ITV2, will conclude on Sunday, with Flack’s replacement Laura Whitmore expected to oversee the finale.