Love Island narrator Iain Stirling has said he is “absolutely devastated” at the death of his colleague Caroline Flack, in a tribute on the ITV2 show.
The message in Monday’s episode came after the TV host, 40, was found dead in her north London home on Saturday.
“You were a true friend to me,” Stirling said. He added that Flack’s “warmth and infectious enthusiasm” were “crucial” to the show’s success.
A lawyer for Flack’s family said she had taken her own life.
The Love Island episode was the first to air after her death. ITV had cancelled two episodes as a mark of respect for the presenter.
Flack was replaced as host of the dating show after being charged with assaulting her boyfriend last year.
‘I’m going to miss you, Caz’
Speaking at the opening of the show, Stirling said: “We are absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this dreadful time.
“Caroline and me were together from the very start of Love Island and her passion, warmth and infectious enthusiasm were a crucial part of what made the show connect with millions of viewers.”
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Stirling’s message was broadcast to images of the ocean, in keeping with the usual opening shots at the beginning of each episode – but to mark the tribute there was no background music.
Stirling’s voice broke as he added: “Caroline, I want to thank you for all the fun times we had making our favourite show. You were a true friend to me. I’m going to miss you, Caz.”
The tribute ended with a photo of Flack on screen. The image was repeated at the end of the episode.
In a statement released on Monday, ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo said staff at the TV station were “devastated” and “still trying to process this tragic news”.
He said Flack had been part of the dating show “from the very beginning”, was “very vocal” in her support of the show, and that viewers “could relate to her and she to them”.
ITV cancelled Monday night’s episode of Love Island: Aftersun and said it would not be releasing a Love Island: The Morning After podcast on Tuesday morning.
And in place of adverts for JustEat, the programme’s sponsor, the broadcaster shared the number for Samaritans.
Following Flack’s death, a petition was launched calling for new laws to prevent sections of the media “knowingly and relentlessly bullying people, famous or not”.
The petition, calling for the introduction of “Caroline’s Law”, has had more than 500,000 signatures so far.
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Flack stood down from the show after she was charged with assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton, in December.
Her management company said she had been “under huge pressure” since then and criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for refusing to drop the charge, even though Mr Burton said he did not want the case to go ahead.
Flack denied the charge and was due to stand trial in March. Bail conditions had stopped Flack having any contact with Mr Burton ahead of the trial
The CPS said it would not comment on the specifics of the case but in response to questions about its role, on Sunday it outlined how it reached decisions over whether or not to charge someone.
Flack’s friend Laura Whitmore – who is also Stirling’s girlfriend – had stepped in as Love Island host after the assault charge.
Following his tribute on Monday she said on Twitter: “Love you @IainDoesJokes I know that wasn’t easy”.
Love Island’s sixth season and first winter series, which is being filmed in South Africa, is due to end on Sunday.
Channel 4 has said it will not broadcast its forthcoming show The Surjury, which was to have been hosted by Flack.