Love Island has returned to ITV2 after a two-day break following the tragic death of the show's former presenter, Caroline Flack, who died by suicide on Saturday. The series, which follows a group of singletons as they attempt to find love while living in a villa together, opened with a beautiful tribute to Caroline. The show began with a view of the sea, as Iain Stirling, read a heartfelt message to his co-star, which emphasised the importance of being kind to each other. "We are all absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away," he began. "Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this dreadful time. Caroline and me were together from the very start of Love Island, and her passion, work and infectious enthusiasm were a crucial part of what made the show connect with millions of viewers. Like many of you, right now we are just trying to come to terms with what happened. My only hope is that we try and be kinder, always show love, and listen to one another. Caroline, I want to thank you for all the fun times we had making our favourite show. You were a true friend to me. I'm going to miss you, Caz."
Watch Love Island's emotional tribute to Caroline Flack
Viewers were hugely touched by the gesture, with one tweeting: "I still can't believe Caroline is gone, Love Island had me in tears," while another added: "Iain not only lost a coworker but he lost a friend, just wanna give him a huge hug after hearing his kind words to Caroline. Always be kind." However, others felt that the show shouldn't be airing at all following the star's death, with one writing: "It feels wrong watching Love Island now."
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Caroline died on Saturday
Ahead of the show, Kevin Lygo, Director of Television at ITV said in a statement: “Everyone at ITV is absolutely devastated and still trying to process this tragic news. Caroline was part of Love Island from the very beginning and her passion, dedication and boundless energy contributed to the show’s success. After Caroline stepped down from the show ITV made it clear that the door was left open for her to return and the Love Island production team remained in regular contact with her and continued to offer support over the last few months.
"Love Island will return tonight and will include a tribute to Caroline that the team in South Africa and Iain Stirling have put together. Caroline loved Love Island and was very vocal in her support of the show. Viewers could relate to her and she to them and that was a big part of the programme's success. We will all miss her very much."
ITV took the show off the air for two days following the presenter's death "out of respect for Caroline's family". The statement read: "Many people at ITV knew Caroline well and held her in great affection. All of us are absolutely devastated at this tragic news… Love Island will return tomorrow night which will include a tribute to Caroline who will be forever in our hearts." ITV have confirmed that Love Island's spin-off show, Aftersun, will not be airing on Monday night.
READ: HELLO!'s editor-in-chief Rosie Nixon: Caroline Flack's passing is a stark reminder that we should all be kinder to each other
Caroline's friend Laura Whitmore, who took over presenting duties from her for the 2020 winter edition of the show, paid a touching tribute to her on her Five Live radio show on Sunday, saying: "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 am not going to pretend she was perfect. She lived every mistake publicly under scrutiny. Caroline loved to love, that’s all she wanted, which is why the show Love Island was important to her."
Social media is a brilliant way to connect people and create communities, but it also has a dark side. Join HELLO!'s #HelloToKindness campaign to promote positivity on social media. A kind ethos underpins everything we do at HELLO! and we urge our community to think twice before you post. Find out more about the #HelloToKindness campaign.