16/02/2020 11:18 GMT | Updated 18/02/2020 01:08 GMT

Laura Whitmore Honours 'Vivacious, Loving' Friend Caroline Flack In Heart-Wrenching On-Air Tribute

The Love Island presenter opened her BBC Radio 5Live show with some emotional words about Caroline.

Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore choked back tears as she honoured friend and colleague Caroline Flack in a heart-wrenching on-air tribute on BBC Radio 5Live. 

Laura opened her Sunday morning show with some moving words about the late TV host, who was found dead at her London home after taking her own life on Saturday aged 40.

“I wish we were talking under better circumstances, and I’ve been debating whether I should, would or could come on air today. But this isn’t about me,” Laura said. 

“Yesterday, we lost someone before their time. At age 40, Caroline Flack made the decision to take her own life and I want to talk about it. We’re going to talk about her and give her the respect that she deserves, but didn’t always get.

“Anyone who knew Caroline knew she was vivacious, loving and had a passion for life, which is why none of this makes sense.”

Remembering her friend, Laura continued: “Caroline loved dancing. Angels by Robbie Williams always reminds me of her because she danced so beautifully to it on Strictly, and I’m going to play that song after I’ve said what I want to say. 

“Caroline loved music, she loved a dance. We shared many a dancefloor at gigs, festivals. I met her just shy of 10 years ago at V Festival and then we became friends.

“She was bubbly, and for such a small stature, commanded a room. She loved to laugh and had the most infectious chuckle. 

“She also had many struggles. I’m not going to pretend she was perfect, but is anyone? she lived every mistake under the scrutiny of the media. 

David M. Benett via Getty Images
Laura Whitmore and Caroline Flack

“Caroline loved to love. That’s all she wanted. Which is why a show like Love Island was important to her because it’s about finding love, friendship, having a laugh. The problem wasn’t the show. The show to work on is loving and caring and safe and protected. The problem is, the outside world is not. 

“Anyone who has ever compared one woman against another on Twitter, knocked someone because of their appearance, invaded someone’s privacy, who’ve made mean, unnecessary comments on an online forum need to look at themselves.”

Becoming emotional, Laura then took a minute to compose herself, before continuing: “To the press, the newspapers who create clickbait, who demonise and tear down success, we’ve had enough. 

“I’ve seen journalists and Twitter warriors talk of this tragedy, who they themselves have twisted what the truth is. You don’t have to tear someone down to feel good about yourself. 

“So to listeners, be kind. Only you are responsible for how you treat others and what you put out in the world. I’ve had messages, I’ve been harassed for just doing my job, and this is where the problem is. I want to use my platform – this platform – to call people out, because it’s gone too far. Your words affect people. 

“To paparazzi and tabloids looking for a cheap sell, to trolls hiding behind a keyboard: enough.”

Laura went on to thank the BBC and ITV for the support that she’d had and for their understanding of her decision to continue with her show.  

“I felt it was the right thing to do. Thank you,” she said. 

Talking about her boyfriend Iain Stirling, who is also Love Island’s narrator, Laura said: “To my boyfriend, the kindest man I know, and the whole Love Island family who are in mourning of their colleague and friend and have been a great support over the last few hours, I love you. 

“To everyone, be kind in what you say.” 

She added: “I’m going to carry on today and get through this show, as that is what Caroline would say to do. 

“Caroline, I am so sad for you. For your family. I’m angry you saw this as your only option as I know how much love and support you had. I’m sorry you didn’t know that. 

“I’m not sure when, but I know I will see you on a dancefloor again, and I hope you are at peace and know that you are loved.”

Laura took over presenting duties from Caroline on Love Island when she stood down from the current series following her arrest and subsequent charge for assault in December. 

Caroline was due to face trial in March after pleading not guilty to assaulting boyfriend Lewis Burton at her home.

Laura previously shared a short tribute on Twitter, posting a poem along with a picture of her with Caroline. 

“I’m trying to find the words but I can’t,” she wrote. 

Laura also shared a video of her and Caroline at a party on her Instagram page, writing: “See you on the dancefloor.”

Laura’s boyfriend, Love Island narrator Iain Stirling, also shared footage of Caroline dancing to Robbie Williams’ Angels during her time on Strictly Come Dancing, which she won in 2014. 

Referencing her famous walk into the Love Island villa, he wrote: “Today my friend wandered into heaven. I bet it was in slow motion and sassy as fuck. Love you x.”

On Saturday night, ITV decided not to air Love Island spin-off Unseen Bits as a mark of respect to Caroline. 

A spokesperson said in a statement: “Everybody at Love Island and ITV is shocked and saddened by this desperately sad news.

“Caroline was a much loved member of the Love Island team and our sincere thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends.”

Many other famous faces, including Caroline’s former X Factor co-host Olly Murs, also paid tribute online

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@themix.org.uk
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org.