×

Must the Show Go On? Why ‘Love Island’ U.K. Should Consider Staff Mental Health (Column)

Love Island” has returned to U.K. TV screens after the death of former host Caroline Flack. Having witnessed her life splashed across headlines over the past few months, it’s hard for anyone not to be affected.

For those who knew her, this is a horrific period playing out under a harsh media spotlight. Everyone has an opinion, people are demanding change, and I hope it comes. But we must also ask whether “Love Islandshould be back on air.

When ITV revealed the show would be returning, Piers Morgan weighed in to announce Flack “would want it to continue.” Meanwhile, ITV television director Kevin Lygo reiterated that Flack “loved ‘Love Island’ and was very vocal in her support of the show.” Their comments were a resounding cry of “The Show Must Go On!” and advocating the belief that, in our industry, it is noble to continue the great work in the face of hardship.

Sadly, we can’t know what Flack wanted, and to say we do is a platitude that serves to justify other people’s feelings rather than the individual in question.

What no one seems to be considering is whether or not it is in the interests of the “Love Island” team to continue the show so quickly. In the same week that The Film & TV Charity released findings of the most extensive research around the mental health of our work force — The Whole Picture Project — there has been little thought for the crew and their own mental health.

Can the show go on? Yes. Will the show go on? Yes. But whether the show should go on is the real question.

Grief is a powerful thing and should never be underestimated. Suicide is emotionally violent to anyone affected, and the “Love Island” team are experiencing loss under immense scrutiny.

The Film & TV Charity’s recent findings reported that in the entertainment industry, the ability to raise your hand and say “I’m not ok” is hard to do. The fear of not being employed, letting people down and causing trouble all prevents people reaching out. We are taught, regardless of our own health, that the show must go on.

According to the findings of The Whole Picture Project, only 7% of people in the business would tell a manager about their mental health. That reduces to 2% among freelancers.

When considering that 55% of the industry have contemplated suicide and 10% have attempted suicide, it seems irresponsible to let this team continue working in this intense “Love Island” bubble so soon.

The feelings that suicide brings up and the grief it causes are powerful, damaging things. Any member of that team, especially those who have worked with Flack, are affected.

I’ve worked in this industry for 10 years, and I’ve worked hard. I’ve worked the same afternoon my presenter, a man I had looked after every day for three months, died. I’ve said I was fine. I’ve smiled. I’ve attempted to take my own life and showed up to work the very next day in case my contract wasn’t extended. I speak from experience I didn’t wish I have.

This is a moment for Lygo, ITV, and the broadcaster’s Mental Health Advisory Board to send a message about mental health to the entertainment industry. Put your staff, your freelancers and your contributors before ratings and profit. Let them know there is support if they are struggling and that you take suicide seriously, and they are allowed to step away from a project without fear of never being employed again. Sometimes, the show doesn’t have to go on.

Davey Shields is a TV freelancer, TV and mental health trainer and founder of MenTalkHealth.

More Biz

  • Queen Elizabeth

    Queen Elizabeth's Footman Diagnosed with Coronavirus (Report)

    Coronavirus remains firmly in the royal orbit as one of Queen Elizabeth’s footmen has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. The royal footman, who regularly walks the Queen’s dogs and was in regular contact with the monarch, is now in self-isolation after falling ill with coronavirus, according to British tabloid The Sun. The revelation comes just [...]

  • A police line forbids the access

    L.A. County Orders Closure of Beaches and Hiking Trails

    Those hoping to escape to the beach this weekend after being pent up at home are out of luck. On Friday, Los Angeles County ordered the closure of beaches and hiking trails, hoping to avoid the crowds that could cause the spread of the coronavirus. State and local officials had previously ordered the closure of [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    ViacomCBS Sets $2.5 Billion Debt Offering as Company Faces Tough Scrutiny

    ViacomCBS has disclosed plans for a $2.5 billion debt offering, an effort that comes as the newly merged company faces tough scrutiny of its growth strategy and balance sheet amid the coronavirus-related economic crisis. ViacomCBS said it would seek to raise $2.5 billion for cash that may be used to help pay down some of [...]

  • A2IM

    A2IM’s Indie Week and Libera Awards Go Virtual for 2020

    In yet another sign of the times, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) today announced that the 2020 installment of its Indie Week conference — the world’s biggest gathering point specifically for the independent music community — is moving online this year, obviously due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which also includes the [...]

  • Amber Heard Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp Allowed to Pursue Defamation Suit Against Amber Heard

    A Virginia judge on Friday refused to dismiss Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard, allowing him to proceed with a claim that she defamed him in a Washington Post opinion piece. In the piece, published in December 2018, Heard alluded to her previous claims that Depp had assaulted her during their marriage, though she did [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content