Laura Whitmore struggled to contain her tears as she paid an emotional tribute to her friend Caroline Flack during her BBC Radio Five Live show on Sunday Morning.
The presenter, 34, who replaced Caroline on the latest Love Island series, appeared on her show just hours after the news that Caroline took her own life emerged.
And it was clear that Laura was struggling through her grief as her voice cracked while praising her friend.
Tribute: Laura Whitmore struggled to contain her tears as she paid an emotional tribute to her friend Caroline Flack during her BBC Radio Five Live show on Sunday Morning
Fighting back tears, she said: ‘I wish we were talking under better circumstances and I’d been debating whether I should, would or could come on air today. But this isn’t about me, 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. I want to talk about it, I want to talk about her and give her the respect that she deserves and that she 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.
‘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 to dance. We shared many a dance floor 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 that she was perfect, but is anyone?
Devastated: The presenter, 34, who replaced Caroline on the latest Love Island series, appeared on her show just hours after the news that Caroline took her own life emerged
‘Caroline loved to love. That’s all she wanted. Which is why the show 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 was loving and caring and safe and protected.’
The Scottish beauty continued: ‘I’d like to thank BBC and ITV for the support that I’ve had and those who’ve supported my decision to come in today as I felt it was the right thing to do. Thank you to my boyfriend, the kindest man I know, to the whole Love Island family who are in mourning of their colleague and friends, and have been a great support over the last few hours. I love you.
‘To everyone, be kind in what you say. I’m going to carry on today and get through this show as that’s what Caroline would say to do. Caroline, I’m so sad for you, for your family. I’m angry that 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’ll see you on the dance floor again and I hope you’re at peace and know that you are loved.’
Caroline took her own life after a worried friend who was staying with her went to the shops, leaving the ex-Love Island presenter alone at her London flat.
It came just hours after she was told she would face trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton, something she denied.
Her management have slammed the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for pursuing the ‘show trial’ after Lewis said he did not want to press charges.
Tragic loss: ‘Anyone who knew Caroline knew she was vivacious, loving and had a passion for life, which is why none of this makes sense’
He had said she hit him with a lamp at her former home in Islington in December before asking the CPS not to press charges.
Caroline had been described by friends as feeling ‘she was on her own’ and ‘couldn’t see a way out,’ according to The Mirror.
It was also understood she had been struggling with her mental health and using anti-depressants before her death.
The TV presenter’s death was confirmed by a lawyer for the family. The Flack family said in a statement: ‘We can confirm that our Caroline passed away today on the 15th February. We would ask that the press respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time.’
Gone too soon: Caroline killed herself at her new flat in Islington, north London hours after finding out she would face trial over the alleged assault of boyfriend Lewis Burton last year (pictured in February 2019)
A worried producer friend had been staying with the star but found she couldn’t get back into her flat after returning from the shops, a source said. She called Caroline’s father Ian who gained entry to the flat where he found the star’s body.
Love Island also released a statement, they said: ‘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.’
Following Caroline’s death, many fans have taken to social media to demand that Love Island be axed, after she became the third person associated with the show to take their own life.
Former contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, took their own lives in March 2019 and June 2018.
Among fans calling the show out was This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes who paid tribute to Caroline while insisting there needs to be ‘repercussions.’
CAROLINE FLACK: A CALL FOR HELP?
Caroline Flack spoke often about her struggles, both in interviews and on social media.
Caroline said, following her Strictly success: ‘Fame doesn’t make you happy’
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 winner has said that she felt depressed following her victory on the BBC show.
After she won the series along with professional partner Pasha Kovalev, she admitted that she felt like she was ‘being held together by a piece of string which could snap at any time’.
In an unearthed interview cited by the Daily Star following her death, Caroline claimed that, ‘It all started the day after I won Strictly. I woke up and felt like somebody had covered my body in clingfilm. I couldn’t get up and just couldn’t pick myself up at all that next year.’
She went on: ‘People see the celebrity lifestyle and assume everything is perfect, but we’re just like everyone else. Everyone is battling something emotional behind closed doors – that’s life.
Ignored? ‘When I actually reached out to someone they said I was draining,’ Caroline admitted in October 2019
‘Fame doesn’t make you happy.’
‘BEING A BURDEN IS MY BIGGEST FEAR’
In an Instagram post she uploaded on 14 October 2019 – to mark World Mental Health Day – Caroline captioned a photo of herself: ‘Some days it’s hard to write your feelings of your not in the right place.
‘The last few weeks I’ve been in a really weird place… I find it hard to talk about it… I guess it’s anxiety and pressure of life… and when I actually reached out to someone they said I was draining.
‘I feel like this is why some people keep their emotions to themselves. I certainly hate talking about my feelings. And being a burden is my biggest fear…
‘I’m lucky to be able to pick myself up when things feel s**t. But what happens if someone can’t. Be nice to people. You never know what’s going on. Ever.’ [sic]
Signs of suicide? She liked tweets about calling The Samaritans over Christmas
Caroline was told to stay off social media following her assault charge in December 2019.
However, she notably liked a string of tweets in the days afterwards, before Christmas, encouraging those feeling lonely over the holidays to seek help.
The tweets – posted by the likes of actress Sheridan Smith, journalist Stacey Dooley and comedian Luke Kempner – included the telephone number for The Samaritans’ suicide hotline.
She also posted to Instagram around the same time: ‘This kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own… I’m a human being at the end of the day and I’m not going to be silenced when I have a story to tell and a life to keep going with…
‘I’m taking some time out to get feeling better and learn some lessons from situations I’ve got myself into to. I have nothing but love to give and best wishes for everyone.’
It was reported that Caroline had decided to write a book, during her recent time off.
‘Caroline has found the process incredibly cathartic,’ one of her friends told the Mail. ‘She wants it to be more than just a story about her. She wants to talk about the problems she’s encountered and how she’s overcome them.
‘She hopes to be able to help others who may be going through similar difficulties. Part self-help, part memoir is the style that Caroline is looking for.’
He wrote on Twitter: ‘Caroline Flack …. Dear God. Shocked beyond belief. May she have found peace. #Rip Has to be repercussions for Love Island now surely?’ which garnered more than 27K likes.
Eamonn later added: ‘Meaning out of respect, can the series continue?’ (sic)
A CPS spokesperson issued a statement, they said: ‘Our deepest sympathies go to the family and friends of Caroline Flack.
‘Given the tragic circumstances, we will not comment on the specifics of this case at this stage.’
If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.