Why the new Caroline Flack documentary isn't on ITV

Here's how the project began...

Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death is due to air on Channel 4 next week (March 17), but many may be wondering how the project first came about and why, given the TV presenter's long-standing relationship with ITV, it's not being made or aired by that broadcaster.

Caroline was, of course, one of the UK's most popular TV presenters. Some of her biggest shows, including Love Island and Love Island: Aftersun, The X Factor and I'm a Celebrity's 2009 spin-off, all aired on ITV.

The answer is a simple one: Channel 4 also had a relationship with the late star, and the documentary was already in the works before she died.

Documentary-makers Charlie Russell and Dov Freedman explained that they had begun talking to Caroline at around the start of 2020, and that they had been discussing a way of documenting everything that she was going through at that time.

In December 2019, the star was arrested and charged following an alleged altercation with her then-boyfriend Lewis Burton (she denied it and Burton did not support the prosecution). A few weeks later, it was announced that Caroline would no longer be hosting the impending series of Love Island.

caroline flack, caroline flack her life and death
Savannah McMillanChannel 4

"So we met Caroline last year and we were talking about making a documentary for Channel 4 that would document what she was going through," the director, Charlie Russell, explained.

"Dov and I both went and chatted with her at length and we felt like there was just a strong connection really and, although she was in the midst of everything and you could see the pressures that that was exerting on her, she was also really lovely and sweet to us and just really interested," he said.

"Caroline was going through something quite unique at the time and she felt she wanted to document it and that's the conversation that we had," Dov Freedman added. "I remember her being keen to introduce us to [her mother] Chris and [her sister] Jody which I think is why a few months down the line we just wanted to pay our respects to Chris and Jody and just introduce ourselves."

Having already embarked on the possibility of holding a camera up to Caroline's side of the story, they explained how this stuck with them after her death.

caroline flack
Neil MockfordGetty Images

"I think, following on from that, we felt that... we sort of owed her in some way to try and tell this story," Charlie said. "So we reached out to Christine and Jody later on and just started talking really. I think we went up and met [them] and had a cup of tea and talked about what a film would look like and what sort of film they wanted to make, first and foremost. Because I think it's very much their film. And it just went quite slowly from there."

Dov also added: "As Charlie said that conversation came up quite naturally about what might a project look like now. Obviously it would be a different kind of film but we felt that it would be good to make a version that Caroline had almost signed up for in some way. You know, a version that she wanted to make."

Charlie also highlighted that through the course of making this documentary, they "worked very closely with the family to make sure it was something that could both celebrate Carrie and capture a sense of her personality and what she was like and things she was proud of, and also be really honest about what happened to her and how that felt."

Speaking to press on behalf of Channel 4, Becky Cadman explained how they had Caroline doing another project for them – most likely hosting The Surjury which, following her death, did not air.

"Then we found ourselves in the eye of the media storm with her and what we sort of spoke to her about, as Charlie and Dov mentioned, was her getting to talk about what was going on," Becky continued. "But sadly that wasn't the film that we in the end could make."

Channel 4 trusted the filmmakers to continue with the project, though it needed to be shaped into something different: "It's sort of been a rolling process of what the film has actually ended up being."

Of course in order to make the film that they ended up making, they needed the involvement of Caroline's family.

"We met Charlie and Dov and I could see why Carrie liked them," Caroline's mother Christine explained. "She trusted them. And I'm really sad that I'm sitting here talking about this film and she's not sitting here talking about the film that they were going to make. Because that would have been the best thing."

Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on March 17.

We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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