×

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

  • Sundance Film Festival Placeholder

    Sheffield Doc/Fest Rejigs With Fall Programming, Virtual Forums in Lieu of Festival

    The Sheffield Doc/Fest pitching forums, MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market are to take place virtually in June, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The rest of the June festival is being replaced by a series of programs that will take place on weekends through the fall. The planned programming will include film screenings, talks, panels, [...]

  • China money and stock markets

    Chinese Economy Makes Surprise Rebound in March

    Economic data published Tuesday showed that China’s manufacturing and services sectors both expanded in March, following the February lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak. But the World Bank warned of further weakness. China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index, published by the National Bureau of Statistics, showed a figure of 52.3 for March, a measure where 50 [...]

  • Emilia Clarke AoA

    'Game of Thrones' Star Emilia Clarke Offers Dinner to Raise Money for Coronavirus Relief

    Twelve lucky people will get to eat dinner with the Mother of Dragons. “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke is asking people around the world to donate money to SameYou, her charity that assists people recovering from brain injuries and strokes. The organization’s new initiative aims to make beds for coronavirus patients and help people [...]

  • Sofar Sounds Launches 'Listening Room' Livestream

    Sofar Sounds Launches 'Listening Room' Livestream

    Sofar Sounds — which has made a name and a business for itself by staging “secret gigs and intimate concerts” featuring emerging artists for an invited, engaged audience — is among the many businesses in the live-entertainment space that have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. While it was thriving both as a platform — [...]

  • John Wick Chronicles

    'John Wick' Producer Ordered to Pay Huayi Bros. Over Axed China Release

    The producer of “John Wick” has been ordered to pay $2.4 million to Huayi Bros. in connection with a failed attempt to release the violent action film in China. Huayi Bros. agreed in 2013 to pay the producer a $1.5 million minimum guarantee to distribute the film in China, provided the movie made it past [...]

  • Coronavirus Placeholder COVID19 Variety

    Entertainment, Tech Companies Making Coronavirus Donations

    There’s no question that Hollywood has been hard hit by the coronavirus shutdowns, with productions worldwide shuttering to keep their workers safe from contracting Covid-19. Some corporations, such as Disney, are pledging to pay many of their furloughed employees during the shutdown, while others are creating funds for workers and donating to medical efforts. Here [...]

  • Studio Babelsberg

    Terminated 'Matrix 4,' 'Uncharted' Film Crews Demand Help From Studio Babelsberg

    Germany’s Studio Babelsberg is seeking to find a settlement with hundreds of film crew members following the shutdown earlier this month of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix 4” and Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted” amid the coronavirus outbreak. The production stop has left many independent film crew members without pay and more than 300 have formed a working [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content