Love Island is feeding the vanity culture and needs to be axed, according to life coach Pete Cohen.
Pete, who has worked in the television industry for decades and is author of coaching book Inspirators, has given a stark warning about the dark side of reality TV and what needs to change going forward.Love Island received criticism following the suicides of two former contestants. Mike Thalassitis took his life in March this year and 2016 contestant Sophie Gradon died in 2018. With the new series of Love Island due to hit screens on June 3, Pete, who has coached 2017 Love Island winner Amber Davies, has voiced his expert opinion on what changes should be made for the contestants on the ITV dating show.
He explained: "In terms of safeguarding the people who are contestants or who appear on these shows – it's obviously important that counselling is provided, consistently, not just during or just after the show, but it's when those people go home that they need to make sure the aftercare is really in place.
"There's also the issue of how much pressure people are put under after appearing on such shows, by people around them, the media, and the repercussions of what is revealed on these reality shows.
"I'd like to see less pressure being put on the stars of these shows. It's pressure that makes people do things they wouldn't normally do; think things they wouldn't normally think. Try not to put too much stress on them."
Pete also insisted: "I absolutely think Love Island should be axed. I think it's absolutely ridiculous. It does nothing for the development of mankind, it just entertains people by encouraging them to be vain, and vanity is a disease of our time."
Following Mike's death, Love Island released a statement about their aftercare system, which included: "Our duty of care is a continuous and ongoing process for each Islander. This follows three key stages: pre-filming; filming; aftercare.
"We work with both an independent GP and a psychological consultant to provide an assessment of the physical and mental health of each of the shortlisted cast members and their suitability for inclusion on the programme."
I absolutely think Love Island should be axed.
The 62-year-old digger from Hampshire failed a lie detector test about being unfaithful while filming the show.
The life coach, who turned down the offer of being a counsellor on Jeremy Kyle, believes that there is a gap for more uplifting reality TV, but he says it is going to take a change in social conditioning to make it popular.
He said: "Personally, I’d like to see more uplifting reality TV but that won't get the same ratings as Jeremy Kyle and Love Island right now.
"It is going to take a bit more conditioning of people to really want to see things working out and to enjoy a reality show that isn’t so dramatic.
"I believe that is going to happen at some point though, as more and more people on social media are talking openly about what they're going through."
Speaking on the popularity of drama, he continued: "It’s why people watch soaps like EastEnders and Casualty, but programmes like Jeremy Kyle and Love Island aren’t soap operas, they’re real people and real lives."
Pete added: "These programmes breed insecurity and what tends to come out of it are serious psychological issues from eating disorders and body dysmorphia to wanting to kill themselves, anxiety and worry - it's a product of how we are living our lives.
"It took another suicide of a reality TV contestant in order for a change to come, and hopefully a change will come out of this. I'm very glad that I didn't take on that Jeremy Kyle Show role all those years ago."
Following the cancellation of Jeremy Kyle, ITV released a statement about the duty of aftercare across all its shows.
The company stated: "ITV has many years experience of broadcasting and creating programmes featuring members of the public and each of our productions has duty of care measures in place for contributors.
"These will be dependent on the type of show and will be proportionate for the level of activity of each contributor and upon the individual.
"All of our processes are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose in an ever changing landscape."
Pete's book Inspirators is out in June.
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