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Lygo defends ITV over Flack’s death

Love Island presenter Caroline Flack died on Saturday

Kevin Lygo, director of television at UK commercial broadcaster ITV, has defended the company against criticism it failed to support Love Island host Caroline Flack prior to her death at the weekend.

Flack hosted ITV2’s break-out hit format but stepped down last month after being charged with assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton.

The presenter was found dead in her London home over the weekend, ahead of her trial which was due on March 4, sparking a barrage of finger pointing.

The British tabloid press, which repeatedly ran sensationalised stories about her, and social media companies have come under the spotlight, while ITV has been accused of not supporting Flack and the Crown Prosecution Service was criticised for pursuing the assault case despite Burton wanting it dropped.

Love Island returned to the ITV schedules last night after being suspended for two days and will now complete the remaining two weeks of its winter run. A tribute to Flack was read out by the show’s voiceover narrator, Iain Stirling.

Before its return to the air, Lygo denied his network had left the presenter ‘out to dry’ following the assault allegations and said it had been in constant contact with her over a potential return to the role.

Kevin Lygo

Lygo said: “Everyone at ITV is absolutely devastated and still trying to process this tragic news. 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 past few months.

“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.”

Flack is the third high-profile suicide case related to the UK version of the dating format, after Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis took their own lives in 2018 and 2019 respectively after appearing as contestants in previous seasons.

ITV also faced damning criticism over the death of Steve Dymond, a member of the public who took his own life last year after failing a lie detector test on the channel’s controversial morning talkshow The Jeremy Kyle Show.

ITV immediately suspended and then cancelled the long-running series which had previously been described as a form of “human bear-baiting” by a judge.

But it has not only kept faith with Love Island, which has become a lucrative best seller in the formats market for its distributor ITV Studios Global Entertainment, but upped its order to two seasons a year for 2020.

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