Reality shows have duty to care says minister after death of Love Island’s Mike

Reality TV shows have a duty to care for contestants after they become famous, the Health Secretary has said following the death of former Love Island star Mike Thalassitis.

The 26-year-old, who was thrown into the spotlight following his appearance on the ITV dating show, was found dead in a north London park on Saturday morning.

Cabinet minister Matt Hancock said he was “moved” by the news and “very worried” about the mental health support provided to reality TV show stars.

Speaking on Monday at The Spectator Health Summit, in central London, Mr Hancock said: “I am very worried about the support for the mental health of contestants on reality TV shows.

Mike Thalassitis death
Mike Thalassitis

“The sudden exposure to massive fame, I suppose, can have significant impacts on people and I think that it is a duty on any organisation that is putting people in the position of making them famous overnight, that they should also look after them afterwards.

“I think that people need to take responsibility for their duties to people’s well being very seriously.”

Thalassitis, who was of Cypriot descent, appeared on the 2017 series of Love Island.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.

He earned the nickname “Muggy Mike” after partnering with fellow islander Chris Hughes’s girlfriend Olivia Attwood.

Jonny Mitchell, who also starred in the 2017 series, told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday that many people struggle to return to normal life after appearing on the dating programme.

“If you come off one of the biggest shows on TV, you can’t go back to working in Tesco, it would be almost impossible, so it creates a lot of stress and a lot of strain on people,” he said.

“I know a lot of people who have come off the show who have suffered with depression.”

He added: “To come off a show that’s that big, to be tossed out into the world with no help, no guidance, no anything, it’s a massive shock and then you start thinking, ‘well, I’m famous, but what do I do next?’

“How do I move forward? How do I feed this lifestyle? How am I going to do anything that’s going to keep me going?”

In June last year, former Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon was also found dead at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland.

Miss Great Britain Launches Drench Water – London
Sophie Gradon after being crowned Miss Great Britain

An inquest into the death of the 32-year-old, which was to be held on Thursday, has been postponed to allow her family to consider new information.

Miss Gradon starred in the second series of Love Island in 2016 and was a former Miss Great Britain.

A statement from Love Island, read out on BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “Care for our islanders is a process the show takes very seriously and is a continuous process for all those taking part in the show.

“We ensure that all of our contributors are able to access psychological support before, during and after appearing on the show.

“The programme will always provide ongoing support when needed and where appropriate.

“We also discuss at length with all of our islanders before and after the show how their lives might change, and they have access to support and advice to help with this.”