Love Island 2019’s opening episode featured a touching tribute to tragic Mike Thalassitis.
The 26-year-old reality TV star was found dead in a park near his childhood home in Edmonton, North London in March this year.
At the end of tonight’s launch show after the credits – a message came up on screen paying tribute to Mike.
Accompanied with a picture of Mike, it read: “In loving memory of Mike Thalassitis 1993 – 2019”.
Last year the show also paid tribute to former contestant Sophie Gradon after she took her her own life in June 2018.
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ITV bosses reportedly made a U-turn after initially deciding not to mention Mike’s death following a fierce backlash against the show in the wake of his death.
A Love Island insider revealed: “Producers wanted to pay their respects to Mike and show his friends, family and fans that he was a part of the Love Island family and is missed deeply by everyone.
“It is a really difficult subject but they wanted to address it rather than sweep it under the carpet or pretend it hasn’t happened.”
Following Mike’s death, ITV announced some major changes to their ‘aftercare’ procedures.
ITV Studios Entertainment Director Richard Cowles said: “We’re very excited that Love Island is back for another series. It is the nation’s favourite dating show and we have a fabulous new cast of young singles all looking for love and ready for a summer of romance in the iconic Love Island villa.
“The format of the new series will be familiar to Love Island viewers and we can’t wait to see how the new Islanders take to life in the villa and how relationships blossom. We hope that viewers will be hooked as they watch these young singles fall in love – hopefully it will be a summer to remember for both the Islanders and our viewers.
“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.”
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Back in March, Celebs Go Dating was praised for their touching tribute to Mike at the end of an episode.
After the credits finished, a picture of Mike appeared on screen with the words: “In memory of Mike Thalassitis 1993 – 2019”
Mike took part in the fourth series of the E4 dating show in February 2018 with stars including Gemma Collins and Jonathan Lipnicki.
Celebs Go Dating viewers felt emotional after watching the special tribute.
One viewer said: “Nice touch by #CelebsGoDating to pay tribute to #MikeThalassitis Still breaks my heart to think he was only 26 and had so much going for him RIP x”
@CelebsGoDating @E4Tweets lovely tribute to mike at the end there,” added another.
A third agreed: “Nice to see a tribute to @MikeThalassitis at the end of #CelebsGoDating”
*Love Island launches Monday night at 9pm on ITV2
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