My daughter was on Love Island – I was so excited I helped her shop for bikinis but it all came crashing down


A MUM who excitedly bought bikinis for her daughter when she was accepted on Love Island has told of the misery the show has wrought.

Savannah Darnell was left unable to get out of bed after she was recruited for the 2018 series alongside Dani Dyer and Dr Alex George.

Savanna Darnell’s mum Karen said her daughter was bombarded with vile messages after appearing in Love Island in 2018
Arabella Chi’s mum Eunice has also told of how she found it difficult to read the sick abuse her daughter faced

Her mother Karen Smallwood, who lives near Sheffield, admitted she was “naïve” about what Savannah, then 22, would face.

“I took Savannah shopping for bikinis,” she told the Daily Mail.

“I didn’t know what could go wrong. We were swept along.

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

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Ex footballer Michael Owen, whose daughter Gemma is appearing on this year’s show, has reportedly left the country after joking that he’s living “every father’s nightmare”.

And Karen, 56, said Savannah’s grief after leaving the island is something she “wouldn’t wish on any parent”.

The pretty blonde, now 26, moved back home after being bombarded with death threats.

“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 said.

It’s believed that around 100,000 hopefuls apply for the show every year – although many contestants are approached by recruiters, including Savannah.

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

Savannah was in the villa for five days, but Karen says she was “barely seen” on TV. She wasn’t picked for the main house, despite forging a connection with Wes Nelson.

Producers offered her counselling when she returned to the UK, but Savannah believed she didn’t need it.

However, she then began to scroll through comments about her on social media. Trolls said she should “just die”, Karen said.


Making matters worse, Savannah was forced to give up her flat as she wasn’t earning. She was paid just £500 for her time in the villa.

In the years since her stint on Love Island, she has had counselling and returned to showbusiness and influencing.

Arabella Chi, who appeared on the show in 2019, has had a successful career off the back of her time at the villa.

But mum Eunice Denny, 66, said she felt her daughter was “treated quite harshly” by the rest of the group after going in as a “bombshell”.

Arabella also got badly trolled, and Eunice said: “I have to say I found it terribly hard.

“I think I found it harder, as a mother, than Arabella herself would have done. It’s your flesh and blood. She got threats and you do find yourself worrying that they will be carried out.”

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”, while 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.

After leaving Love Island, Savannah found it difficult to get out of bed

She has since made a return to showbusiness after working on her mental health with a counsellor

Arabella has launched a successful career as an influencer off the back of her stint in the villa