‘I warned others off the show’: The fathers whose daughters went onto Love Island
Amy Hart’s death threats got so bad the police were involved
One group of people we often don’t think about being affected by Love Island is the parents of the sons and daughters who appear on the show. Two mothers of former Islanders have spoken out about what it was like watching their daughters go onto the reality dating show and the toll it took on their mental health after they had left the villa. Now, two fathers have shared what it was like seeing their daughters on Love Island and the impact the trolling had on them.
Season five winner, Amber Gill’s father said the biggest downside to his daughter going on the show was the trolling she faced from “cowards hiding behind anonymous accounts.” Amy Hart’s father Ian says he does not regret his daughter going on the show but has warned people he knows from going onto it in the future. Speaking with The Sun, the fathers of Amber Gill and Amy Hart have spoken about what it was like dealing with the trolling their daughters faced online and the support they received.
Love Island winner Amber Gill was on season five of the show in 2019. She was an OG Islander who faced public heartbreak after Casa Amor, when Michael Griffiths coupled up with someone else. Not long after, Amber coupled up with Greg O’Shea who she went onto win the show with. Amber’s father Leon refused to even shake Michael’s hand after seeing him at a Love Island family event after the show ended.
While Amber was on the show, Leon did not let anyone talk badly about her if he could help it. He said: “People say it’s just a TV show, but when you see your daughter in tears, as a dad you’re going to react.” Leon remembers being in a pub and hearing someone call Amber names. “I’m not going to repeat the words, but it was all, ‘That Amber is a such and such.’ I went over and said, ‘Amber is my daughter and you’re very lucky I’m an easy-going type of guy because if I wasn’t, you know what would happen.’ He said sorry”, he said.
Before Amber won the viewers hearts after staying true to herself after the Casa Amor and Michael debacle, she was subject to awful racist abuse online. Leon recalls that Amber received multiple racist DMs to her Instagram, which were reported by her mother to ITV’s welfare team. He said: “The family had constant contact from producers and felt supported.”
Leon says the worst part about Amber being on Love Island was the trolling. He said: “The biggest downside has to be the trolling. And my mind goes back to Caroline Flack, who Amber was close to. We were having a meal out when Amber got the call to tell her what had happened, and she was distraught. If it can happen to Caroline, who had the world at her feet, it can happen to anybody. It’s cowards that do it. Cowards hiding behind anonymous accounts.”
When offering advice to Michael Owen and other fathers of the current Love Island contestants, Leon said: “Try not to get too annoyed. It’ll be hard when you see some of the conversations your daughter is having with guys, but you can switch off and just be there for her on the outside.”
Amy was another OG Islander on the 2019’s Love Island before she decided to leave the villa following her heartbreak. Amy’s father Ian said he would only watch the show an hour after it was aired so he could be prepared and know what to expect. He said: “I would watch it an hour after the show went out so I could be warned if there were bits I might want to fast forward. That worked well, until someone forgot to tell me.” In a challenge, it was revealed that Amy had slept with 11 men, and Ian said: “You have got to take it on the chin. Amy’s a good-looking young lady, she’s got a lovely personality and I never expected her to live like Mother Teresa.”
Ian knows just how important support for the Islanders can be. Towards the end of Amy’s time in the villa, she dealt with heartbreak after finding out Curtis was not faithful to her in Casa Amor, and soon after showed his interest in Maura Higgins which led to her leaving the villa. “Amy went with dignity and class and I was proud.”
While she was on the show in 2019, Amy faced abuse and death threats from online trolls. Ian believes nothing could have prepared him and their family for the online abuse Amy faced, commenting on her weight and looks. “Amy had a woman who would post something abusive at 6:30 every morning, knowing she would wake up and it’d be the first thing she saw. We’d report it but she would start another account and then another one and so on. Until legislation makes people accountable, it’s going to happen”, he said.
He continued: “When the death threat came through, ITV got the police involved and kept us in the loop, which was reassuring. They deserve a lot of credit for that.” Ian shared that the aftercare team from ITV2 had been exceptional, and Amy checks in with them.
When Amy first told her parents she was going into the villa, they weren’t too bothered. Ian said: “It was her ambition, and you can’t stifle that. Over the last 35 years doing my job as a funeral director, I’ve talked to a lot of families of people who never had the chance to realise their dreams, so we supported her. I’ve always told my children that providing it’s legal, tasteful and you don’t upset anybody – go for it.”
Since Amy appeared on the show, Ian found out a local boy he knew had been lined up for Love Island and he warned him off going on the show. He said: “I said to him, ‘Please don’t do it. You’re a lovely lad but I don’t think you’re mentally strong enough.’ Thankfully, he didn’t go in.” Ian Hart has offered advice to Michael Owen, telling him not to watch the show. He said: “Don’t watch! Seriously, though, just make sure you’re there for them when they come out. See Amy kiss on camera was a bit like being eight again and watching Dr Who and the Daleks from behind the sofa!”
Despite everything their daughters faced, neither Ian nor Leon regrets Amber or Amy going on the show. Ian said: “Love Island put Amy in the public eye. It gave her an opportunity and she’s making the most of it. She went in there for the right reasons – to fall in love – and she left on her own terms.” Amy is now in a relationship with mode Sam Rason, who Ian approves of. He said: “Curtis was a lovely lad. But he is a bottle of prosecco, Sam is a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.”