Television and radio presenter Laura Whitmore has revealed she was scared that she would "never be OK" with the death Caroline Flack.
The Bray-native replaced Flack as the presenter of ITV2's Love Island last year following an assault charge which caused Caroline to step down.
Just weeks after Laura took over as host, reports that the 40-year-old took her own life were made public.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan UK, Whitmore said: "It'll never be OK and it'll never be right. It did scare me.
"She was so strong-willed and feisty and I remember thinking, 'God, I wish I could be as strong as her'. I felt like if people said things, it wouldn't bother her. But obviously it did because everyone is human.
"I don't want to speculate reasons because nobody will ever know. (But) it did frighten me."
Whitmore, a former MTV host, admitted that she was reluctant to take the job due to the show's huge tabloid focus.
"You do a show that big and people want to write about it and put it in tabloids and magazines," Whitmore, whose partner Iain Stirling is the Love Island narrator, said.
"So I knew, yes, it's got great parts to it, but it's also got negative parts too. I love doing live TV. I'd worked with most of the crew doing I'm A Celebrity . . . and MTV, so it just felt very comfortable. The show was the easiest thing.
"It was everything around it that I couldn't cope with. When I got the call I was like, 'I need to talk to Iain, I need to talk to Caroline . . .' It's a weird one because you think you should just jump at it.
"Obviously you're delighted that ITV trust you to do such a big show, but a friend of yours is also going through hell . . . Caroline had messaged me first to say, 'I hope you get it', which was really nice.
"You're like, 'Oh yay, I get to do this but, no, this isn't how I want to get to do it. It was a really weird way to get a job."
In the wake of Flack’s death, Whitmore and Stirling made a plea for privacy after being pursued by paparazzi in a Cape Town airport. The couple were reuniting for the first time since their friend’s passing at the time.
“I have never courted the paparazzi but understand at work events it comes with the territory,” Whitmore said in a statement at the time.
“But this morning was too much.”
The day after Flack’s death, Whitmore paid tribute to the 40-year-old on her BBC Radio 5 Live show.
“Yesterday we lost someone before their time,” she said.
“We’re going to talk about her and give her the respect that she deserves and that she didn’t always get.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, there is help available:
- Samaritans – 116 123 – [email protected] or [email protected]
- Pieta House – 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444
- Aware - 1800 80 48 48
- Childline – 1800 66 66 66 or free text 50101
Main image by @thewhitmore