Love Island 2019 to launch with Mike Thalassitis tribute after ITV U-turn

Love Island’s opening episode tomorrow night will feature a sombre tribute to tragic Mike Thalassitis.

ITV bosses had reportedly decided not to mention the 26-year-old’s sus­­pected suicide, following a fierce backlash against the show in the wake of his death.

But they have now decided it is “the right thing” to acknowledge it.

And they have introduced new measures to ensure the safety of this year’s crop of hopefuls, who include Lucie Donlan, 21, Yewande Biala, 23, Anna Vakili, 28, Amy Hart, 26, and Amber Gill, 21.

Footballer Mike died in March and another former islander, Sophie Gradon, 32, killed herself in 2018.

A Love Island insider revealed: “Producers wanted to pay their respects to Mike and show his friends, family and fans that he was a part of the Love Island family and is missed deeply by everyone.

“It is a really difficult subject but they wanted to address it rather than sweep it under the carpet or pretend it hasn’t happened.”

The show paid a short tribute to Sophie during last season’s run.

The deaths sparked a debate about how reality stars are cared for by TV bosses.

There were suggestions that Mike left to battle depression alone.

But show chiefs insist islanders are supported, and they have brought in new plans this series, with recruits given social media training and financial management advice.

Bosses will also contact contestants’ GPs for mental health checks ahead of filming.

Each person will be given a minimum of eight therapy sessions when they go home, and bosses will stay in touch for 14 months after filming finishes.

Contestants will enter the villa tonight. Our exclusive photos show five female contenders meeting presenter Caroline Flack, 39.

  • Love Island is on ITV2 nightly at 9pm

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