Johnny Walker blasts ITV for not giving tragic Caroline Flack same help as Ant McPartlin
The BBC Radio 2 broadcaster claimed that the Ant and Dec double act star got better support than the Love Island presenter because the duo earn more for the company. Caroline committed suicide, aged 40, after being allowed to quit the dating show when she was charged with assaulting boyfriend Lewis Burton. But Ant was helped into rehabilitation when he suffered drink and drug problems and has since revived his hit partnership with Declan Donnelly to host Saturday Night Takeaway. Johnnie, who turned 75 yesterday, says in an interview for this week’s edition of Radio Times: “I wish Caroline Flack had been given more support from ITV.
“I really think they should have supported her in the same way that they did Ant from Ant and Dec.”
The Sounds of the 70s presenter said Caroline’s lack of support was not because she is a woman.
He added: “No, I think it was down to the financial value of the individual. That’s the reality. Ant and Dec’s programmes earn a huge amount of income.”
Johnnie, who had his own well-publicised drug problems and once attempted suicide, also complained that social media trolls are allowed to be “as mean and hateful as they want to be”.
After Caroline took her own life at her London flat last month, ITV insisted that they had been in constant touch with her throughout the crisis.
But Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden was among critics who accused them of double standards, after claiming Caroline had been “thrown to the dogs”.
Johnnie, a cult figure among rock fans, also told how his Sounds of the 70s road show has been cancelled amid the coronavirus collapse.
But he added: “When we’re finally able to go out on the road, it will be a joyful celebration of both the music and being together again.”
He believes that his older fans look back fondly on the difficulties society faced four decades ago of economic crisis and unions battling with the government.
Johnnie said: “Although there were some dark times politically – the three-day-week, rubbish piling up in the streets – listeners talk about how life was much more simple then. A lot of them are having their 60th birthdays now so I think the music brings all those memories back, which is why the radio show works.”
The former hell-raiser says he now enjoys a quiet life with wife Tiggy, who he thanks for helping him beat non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
The pair wed in 2002 and he announced his illness the following year.
He added: “I’m not sure I would have made it without her love. Tiggy’s fantastic. Within 30 seconds of meeting her, I knew she was very special.”
An ITV spokesman said: “When Caroline stepped down from Love Island, ITV made it clear that the door was firmly left open for her to return. The production team continued to offer her support.”
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