Entertainment & Arts

Laura Whitmore replaces Caroline Flack as Love Island host

Laura Whitmore Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Laura Whitmore took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2016

Laura Whitmore is to step in as host of ITV2's winter edition of Love Island after Caroline Flack stood down after being charged with assault.

The broadcaster will front the show when the contestants move into a new villa in South Africa in January.

She previously replaced Flack as host of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here's ITV2 spin-off in 2011, and has a weekly show on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Flack was charged after police were called to an incident on 12 December.

Paul Mortimer, head of ITV's digital channels and acquisitions, said: "I'm delighted that Laura is able to step in this winter on ITV2's biggest show.

"She is the best person for the job and is a popular and experienced presenter of live television. Whilst Caroline is away, we know that Love Island will be in very safe hands."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Flack had hosted Love Island since it returned to screens in 2015

Whitmore said she was "excited" to step into the role but wished her opportunity had come under "better circumstances".

"Caroline is a brilliant host and also a friend," she said in a statement. "We've spoken a lot in the last few days since she stepped down. She has been very kind to me and strongly pushed me for this role. I've watched her host every series and know I have big boots to fill. I will try and do it justice."

She added: "Above all, I am a massive fan of this show. I've never been to a Love Island villa, and I can't wait to get in there to meet all the new Islanders looking for love. The Love Island team are the best in the business… including the voice and heart of the show, Iain. He thought he was getting a holiday away from me… not a chance!"

The incoming Love Island host is guaranteed to be greeted in South Africa by one familiar face at least, in the form of boyfriend and Scottish comedian Iain Stirling - who does the voiceovers on the show.

He greeted the announcement of her arrival by joking: "I wonder if she's single..."

Image copyright Caroline Flack/Instagram
Image caption Caroline Flack has given her approval online over the decision to replace her with Laura Whitmore

Flack gave her approval to the decision to appoint Whitmore too, via her Instagram story on Friday.

"She loves the show as much as I do," she noted.

Court date

Flack was charged with assault by beating following an incident at her Islington home in north London.

Police were called to her house, where she lives with her partner, tennis player Lewis Burton, at 05:25 GMT last week.

Officers attended after reports of a man being assaulted. The man was not seriously injured, police said.

The 40-year-old will appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on 23 December.

Announcing her decision to step aside, she said: "There have been a significant number of media reports and allegations into my personal life.

'Incredible team'

"While matters were not as have been reported, I am committed to working with the authorities and I can't comment further on these matters until the legal process is over."

She added: "In order not to detract attention from the upcoming series I feel the best thing I can do is stand down for series six. I want to wish the incredible team working on the show a fantastic series in Cape Town."

ITV announced the winter spin-off in July following the show's success over the past five summers. The company said the 2019 series reached more than six million viewers and was the most-watched programme of the year at the time among adults aged between 16 and 34.

Who is Laura Whitmore?

Image copyright Getty Images

In November, Whitmore took up her new role as a BBC Radio 5 Live broadcaster, as part of the station's shake-up to their weekend line-up, which also saw Scott Mills join.

The 34-year-old had previously filled in on occasion and said at the time she was "thrilled" to return on a permanent basis with "big name guests from the worlds of politics, music and showbiz".

The Bray-born star studied at Dublin City University and made her breakthrough as a TV presenter with MTV Ireland from 2008 onwards.

She hosted I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! NOW; a companion series to the popular ITV reality show from 2011-2015, before appearing as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.

Unlike Flack, who won the competition in 2014, Whitmore was voted off the show following a dance-off with eventual winner Ore Oduba.

Whitmore has also worked as a model and as a co-commentator for BBC Three on the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Finals in 2014.

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