ENTERTAINMENT
29/07/2019 20:30 BST | Updated 30/07/2019 15:01 BST

Sophie Gradon's Mum Pens Heart-Wrenching Open Letter Slamming ITV Boss On Eve Of Love Island Finale

The series two contestant took her own life last year.

The mother of late Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon has penned an open letter to ITV’s top boss on the eve of the final of the current series.

Deborah Gradon slammed ITV’s chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall after she said it was “strange” to link Sophie’s suicide and that of series three contestant Mike Thalassitis to the show. 

ITV
Sophie Gradon took her own life last year

Sophie’s mother accused McCall of “trivialising” their deaths with her “abhorrent” comments, which were made during an appearance on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme last week. 

In the open letter, published by The Sun, Deborah wrote: “How dare you try to trivialise and belittle the deaths of our beloved children. To try and exercise some right of removal from the show, is principally evil.

“It is an unspeakable loss. I feel the agony and all its attended miseries every day and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

“In my beautiful darling daughter’s own words: ‘I sold my soul to ITV’,” she continued. 

“As a Mother yourself, I hope your hypocrisy and haughtily placed remarks sit well with your conscience.”

In the letter, Deborah also made a series of comments about the way she believes the show is produced, likening it to “a Machiavellian project”.

In response to the letter, an ITV spokesperson told HufffPost UK: “Our deepest sympathies are with Sophie’s mother and her friends and family.” 

Joe Maher via Getty Images
Mike Thalassitis was found dead in March

Sophie, who appeared on the 2016 series of the dating show, was found dead at her home in Northumberland in June last year

An inquest later heard she had taken her own life after consuming alcohol and cocaine.

Series three contestant Mike Thalassitis was later found dead in a park near his home in March this year, with an inquest also ruling his death as suicide. 

During her Radio 4 interview, McCall had said: “Mind and the Samaritans tell the public constantly not to simplify links, and I’m afraid that’s what media does. 

“The two contestants, who were very popular contestants - Sophie and Mike - there was nearly a two-year gap for each of them and they did lots and lots of other things after Love Island, so I think it’s a strange thing for you to bring up to be honest.”

PA Archive/PA Images
ITV's CEO Dame Carolyn McCall

Following Mike’s death, and with mounting pressure on the show, Love Island bosses introduced a raft of changes to their aftercare processes, following an independent review. 

These include new financial and social media training for the Islanders, as well as a more specific aftercare plan, which will see them have to attend a minimum of eight therapy sessions.

In a statement accompanying the new guidelines, Richard Cowles, the creative director for ITV Studios Entertainment, said: “Due to the success of the show our Islanders can find themselves in the public eye following their appearance.  

“We really want to make sure they have given real consideration to this and what appearing on TV entails. Discussing all of this with us forms a big part of the casting process and, ultimately, their decision to take part.  

“Also, as we are outlining today our welfare processes follow three key stages: pre-filming, filming and aftercare and we are increasing our post filming support to help Islanders following their time in villa.”

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.