Caroline Flack ‘wasn’t emotionally wired’ for fame

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

picture copyrightGetty Images

picture captionCaroline Flack took her personal life in February 2020

Caroline Flack was referred to as one of the crucial excitable and charismatic presenters in tv. But a brand new documentary reveals a posh image of a star who was struggling enormously beneath the floor.

At the time of her dying in February 2020, Flack was awaiting trial for assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. The Crown Prosecution Service mentioned it had trigger to pursue the case, however the subsequent publicity positioned immense stress on somebody who, in line with her household, had all the time been susceptible.

Flack was any individual who revelled in life’s highs; she adored her job, had no scarcity of pals, and, by her personal admission, beloved being in love. But she additionally skilled crushing lows, notably when it got here to break-ups. The TV presenter had a protracted historical past of harming herself when a relationship ended, one thing which hasn’t beforehand been made public.

“She struggled emotionally, she was very depressed,” her twin sister Jody says within the documentary, which can air on Channel 4 subsequent week. “That pattern carried on forever. She really did find heartbreak impossible.”

Jody says the household had usually been involved for her welfare prior to now. “She was quite fascinated by the subject of suicide always, and I knew that about her, so it was a worry for a long time, and something I tried to get my head around for a long time. So it’s something that’s in my life that I’m prepared could happen.”

If you’re affected by points raised on this article assist and assist is on the market through the BBC Action Line.

If you or somebody wants assist for points regarding bereavement and emotional misery, these organisations could also be additionally capable of assist.

Previous break-ups had left Caroline Flack in hospital following self-harm or suicide makes an attempt. Her mom Christine remembers one episode within the Nineteen Nineties, when her daughter was in her late teenagers and finding out musical theatre. “She had a long relationship when she was in Cambridge, but it ended, and then we got a call that she’d taken some pills, and she spent time in hospital.

“You may inform that it wasn’t proper. Her response wasn’t proper. She did not deal with heartbreak nicely. We went by all of the docs and so they mentioned, ‘We assume it was a one off.’ But there was all the time that concern after then, you are all the time apprehensive in case something occurred.

“You know you get a high or a low, and that’s what she was like from a child, she was either very high or she was very down, she couldn’t stop crying.”

Jody provides: “Each serious boyfriend, she took a lot of tablets, drank a lot, ended up in an A&E situation a lot of times. And she really didn’t think she could cope with that feeling. And so I think it was her trying to control it.”

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picture captionFlack co-hosted ITV2’s The Xtra Factor with Olly Murs, earlier than the pair had been promoted to fronting the primary ITV sequence

The documentary additionally options interviews with Dermot O’Leary and Olly Murs, who co-hosted The Xtra Factor with Flack on ITV2 for a number of years.

“She was exceptionally good,” says O’Leary. “You’ve got to have a good personality in television. All the traits you need – you’ve got to be reactive, reactively funny, have empathy, ask the right questions. But there’s a whole technical side too, which you can learn, but [Caroline] just had it, she was a great live presenter. She had funny bones.

“The Xtra Factor was my favorite factor she ever did, she simply made it fly. She was nice on Love Island, however she may do Love Island in her sleep. The Xtra Factor, these dwell reveals, she actually simply got here alive.”

Flack and Murs were hugely popular with viewers thanks to their easy natural chemistry. It was only a matter of time before the call came to promote them to The X Factor on ITV, which it did in 2015. But for some reason, the pair struggled to carry their sparkle across to the main show.

“It ought to have been probably the most wonderful expertise of our lives, however it ended up being our downfall actually,” Murs recalls. “After the primary two or three reveals, we bought it from all angles. And rapidly you are overwhelmed up, overwhelmed up once more. That was fixed for 10 weeks. The abuse that she was getting, it was terrible. Those feedback did have an effect on her day by day.

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picture captionA mural by artist Scott Wilcock was painted in Wigan final month on the anniversary of Flack’s dying

“I remember the final of The X Factor, there was a big story, and basically we were getting sacked from the show. It was an awful experience, to know that everyone hated us on the show.”

Of course, a part of being within the public eye is having to take criticism in addition to reward. But Flack discovered this side of fame notably difficult.

TV producer Anna Blue says: “Sometimes people ask if she wanted to be famous, which is a really good question. And she did want to be famous, but she just wasn’t emotionally wired to deal with all the problems that came with being famous.”

Flack would learn information tales about herself and continually monitor her notifications on social media – taking any imply feedback to coronary heart. “You can’t get away from it, it follows you home, it follows you on your phone,” Christine Flack factors out. “And Carrie was the worst one, she’d look at her phone all the time, it took her over, what was being said.”

Flack’s anxiousness in regards to the public’s notion of her led to important efforts to cover data from the press. Christine says her daughter “went to different doctors all the time”, so no one may discover out about it.

“She was so fearful of anybody knowing anything and printing it,” Christine explains. “She wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t have any bad in her. I can’t imagine her writing a nasty thing about someone. And everything that was written about her hurt her. And we’d say, ‘Don’t read it.’ But it’s so easy to say, because you do read it, don’t you?”

picture copyrightChannel 4

picture captionThe documentary, Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death, is broadcast on Channel 4 subsequent week

In the weeks previous her dying, a graphic picture of blood-stained sheets in Flack’s bed room, taken instantly after her combat with Burton, was printed by some newspapers.

Some prompt this was proof of the assault on Burton, however in an Instagram assertion Flack had written previous to her dying, she mentioned: “The blood that someone SOLD to a newspaper was MY blood and that was something very sad and very personal.”

Christine says her daughter “had to have plastic surgery on her arm” because of the harm she’d inflicted on herself, including: “She did do that when she got really low.”

She expresses disbelief on the lengths the press would go to for tales. “They followed me across London one night, after I’d cleaned up the blood in Carrie’s flat. That’s how bad they were. And that was before she died.”

The looming public court docket case, which was sure to be a media circus, contributed to the immense stress on her. “I think she realised that everything was going to be in the press, and everyone was going to find out she had these dark moments, and she didn’t want people to know that.”

At the time of the alleged assault, Burton mentioned he didn’t wish to press costs towards Flack. But the lawyer who was accountable for prosecuting her for assault has beforehand mentioned it was the precise determination to pursue the trial, and that Flack’s subsequent dying couldn’t have been anticipated.

“You’ve got to come to a decision as a prosecutor, you’ve got to do what you think is right,” mentioned Ed Beltrami, who on the time was chief crown prosecutor in north London. “You cannot do what you think is popular.”

picture copyrightGetty Images

picture captionFlack appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court two months earlier than taking her personal life

“The facts of this case were the guy had made his complaint, he had phoned the police, he was terrified he was going to be killed, he’s been hit over the head with a weapon, namely a lamp, he’s got a cut to his head, and she’s made an admission to the police at the scene.”

The considered all the main points of the case being made public was one thing Flack could not take care of, her mom says.

“Someone else could’ve probably dealt with it, but she couldn’t,” Christine displays. “She just hated the thought that people thought she was this awful person. Even when she’d taken pills as a young person, she didn’t want anyone to know she got down. And I know they say, ‘Everyone’s talking about it now.’ But I think a lot of people with depression don’t talk about it. You’re either ashamed of it, or you’re frightened that they’ll think something about you. So I think people are still frightened to say it.”

Caroline Flack: Her Life And Death is broadcast on Wednesday 17 March at 21:00 GMT on Channel 4.

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