Almost 25,000 complaints were logged about just one episode.
Love Island is a show that’s been shrouded in controversy, specifically surrounding Islander welfare after two former contestants – Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis – took their own lives. So it’s no surprise that viewers are quick to act if they think something is out of line, and following a recent episode of the popular series, almost 25,000 people did just that.
According to broadcasting regulator Ofcom, 24,763 complaints were logged in regards to the episode of Love Island that aired on Friday, 6 August 2021. The staggering number of grievances has broken the record for the most ever made in relation to one episode of the programme.
What disturbed viewers so deeply was watching 26-year-old Faye Winter enter what she has since described as “self-destruct mode” upon witnessing a flirty conversation her villa partner, Teddy Soares, had with Casa Amor contestant Clarisse Juliette. In what numerous viewers described as a “cruel” game, the Islanders were made to watch clips of what had really gone on when the boys were away at Casa Amor.
When Faye watched Teddy tell Clarisse he had a “sexual attraction” to her, she lost her cool. What ensued was painful to watch; a one-sided slanging match which saw Faye shout demeaning insults at several of her fellow Islanders – especially Teddy. Launching several expletives at him, Faye labelled her partner a “stupid, stupid boy,” and a “pr**k”.
It was uncomfortable viewing – not only because the public had witnessed how loyal Teddy had been to Faye at Casa Amor, but because Faye couldn’t appear to calm herself down at all. The issues raised to Ofcom reportedly referenced concerns around the contestants’ well-being and mental health. And it’s no surprise, considering that, at the time, Twitter was rife with people commenting on the scenes, describing it as “horrible to watch” and “disturbing”.
Speaking to The Mirror, an Ofcom spokesperson confirmed the “high volume” of complaints. “We’ve received a high volume of complaints about last week’s Love Island, which is consistent with a trend of growing complaints about high-profile TV shows. We are carefully assessing the complaints we’ve received, before deciding whether or not to investigate.”
Love Island has implemented a duty of care protocol once again this year that aims to protect the contestants. As well as conducting thorough psychological and medical assessments to Islanders before allowing them to enter the show, there is “comprehensive psychological support” and various training available.
Despite this, as the Ofcom complaints indicate, some viewers clearly don’t feel confident that contestants’ mental health is being prioritised. As one person put it: “ITV needs to realise that creating ‘great TV’ isn’t worth damaging someone’s mental health.”