I couldn’t wait to star on Love Island but I was forced to give up my London flat and made just £500


A LOVE Island star said she was forced to give up her flat after being paid just £500 for her stint on the show.

Savanna Darnell was left unable to get out of bed after she was booted out of the 2018 series, which also starred Dani Dyer and Dr Alex George.

Ex Love Island contestant Savanna Darnell says she was forced to move out of her flat after being paid just £500 by the show
Savanna fell into a deep depression after she appeared on the programme. She faced vile abuse from trolls

The pretty blonde, now 26, was bombarded with abuse and death threats from online trolls.

She’d held a job in showbiz before appearing on the show, even appearing alongside Will Smith in Aladdin.

But after just five days in Casa Amor, Savanna wasn’t picked by Wes Nelson – and returned home in floods of tears.

She struggled to find work again afterwards and had to leave her flat and move back in with her mum Karen Smallwood.

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Karen, who lives near Sheffield, told the Daily Mail the family had been “naïve”.

“I didn’t know what could go wrong. We were swept along,” she said.

“If I knew then what I know now, we’d have had a very different conversation.”

Savanna was 22 and had never watched Love Island when she was approached by producers. She claims they told her she’d appear in the main villa.

However, she was instead sent into Casa Amor to try and charm one of the male contestants away from the woman they were coupled up with.

After she returned to the UK, she turned down counselling – before becoming deeply distressed when she began to read online comments about her time in the villa.

“I can’t tell you how horrible it is to walk into your child’s bedroom and discover they’ve been up all night crying because a stranger said they’re the ugliest ever contestant,” Karen, 56, said.

Last month, Savanna told OK! she had fallen out with her brother over her appearance.


“He didn’t want me to go on the show,” she said.

“He thought it was trashy and not something he wanted his little sister taking part in.

“We had a huge argument and still don’t really speak to this day.”

Out of six Casa Amor girls, just two – including Savanna – weren’t chosen.

“It was the most embarrassing moment in my whole entire life. I had to watch as they excitedly prepared to move across to the main villa – I just felt sick,” she said.

ITV published its duty of care charter in 2019 after former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis took their own lives.

When host Caroline Flack also died by suicide in February 2020, the show introduced further measures to ensure contestants — and their families — feel supported. 

Reps for the show today sent Sun Online testimonials from those who have previously appeared on the show.

Dr Alex said he had “really good aftercare”.

Megan Barton Hanson said: “They do so much behind the scenes that people don’t actually see.

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“You’ve got 24-hour care on that show before, during and after.” 

Eyal Booker, who appeared on series four, also said he didn’t “have a bad word to say” about the care he received.

Mum Karen said she and Savanna had not seen the show and were ‘naïve’