Former Love Island star Ollie Williams has reflected on the controversy he found himself at the centre of after leaving the show, admitting he it made him feel like the “most hated person in Britain”.
Ollie lasted just three days in the villa back in January, after which he made the decision to quit the show.
His exit came shortly after photos of him posing with dead animals had begun circulating on social media, leading many to suspect he was a trophy hunter.
Since leaving Love Island, Ollie has denied these accusations, and now says the ensuing backlash was difficult for him to deal with, adding he felt like he was “treated like a murderer” upon his exit.
“We just need to be a bit kinder to each other,” he told the BBC. “We have this constant battle with the pressures of social media, people can say anything, it’s insane.”
Ollie went on to claim that after leaving the villa, he was almost immediately flown back to the UK, explaining: “I had someone checking I was OK mentally when I came out, but on landing in London they assigned me a security detail - I knew then things were bad.
“I felt like the most hated person in Britain... I never in a million years thought it would be this bad.”
He also described having to go into hiding for 10 days after returning to the UK, saying: “I’m from a farming family in Cornwall, yes it was a privileged background, but I didn’t deserve to be trolled and neither did my family.
“My sister received death threats on social media, it’s affected the whole family.”
Backing calls for more regulation on social media platforms, Ollie continued: “The worst thing you can do is try to battle them [on social media], but it’s hard not to let it affect you.
“It’s no good just blocking and reporting, that doesn’t work - currently regulation is non-existent.”
Both Ollie and ITV have always insisted that he left Love Island of his own accord because he had feelings for his ex-girlfriend back home, with the reality star adding: “I never killed those animals, and I wasn’t pulled from the show.
“Even if I had [shot those animals] it’s completely legal, it’s actually encouraged in that part of the world to support conservation.”
The current series of Love Island is about to come to an end, with the winning couple being crowned in Sunday night’s live show.
Fans had speculated whether the usual summer series would be airing, following the tragic death of its host Caroline Flack last week, but a post on ITV’s website advertising for future contestants has strongly suggested the show will be going ahead as usual.
Since her death, a number of her famous friends and former colleagues have been paying tribute, including Laura Whitmore, who is currently hosting the first ever winter series of Love Island.
Last week, Laura gave an impassioned speech on her radio show, calling for her listeners to be kinder to one another, and think more of the consequences of their words.
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: email@example.com
- 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.