'Love Island' contestant Marcel Somerville reveals he was target of racist abuse on social media

He explained he had received no training on how to deal with these issues

Sirena Bergman
Wednesday 04 September 2019 17:26

Love Island's Marcel Somerville has shared his experience of receiving racist abuse on social media.

Speaking to MPs to a select committee this afternoon, he said he had received little preparation for the abuse he would encounter.

Somerville explained that he had received racist direct messages on social platforms.

Referencing his relationship with fellow contestant Gabby Allen, he said: "The girl I came off the show with, because she was Caucasian got sent some vulgar stuff…they’re doing it behind the shield of their phone."

"The whole time on the show is fine, when you come off it's fine, but because you are in the spotlight, no matter what you do, there will be a story about it," continued Somerville, who was a contestant on the 2017 edition of the show.

He explained: “There are a lot of trolls. I didn’t get told how to tweet…there were people with no followers sending racist stuff, I eventually worked out how to block certain words but I did that off my own back.”

Somerville also said: “I was the first fully black contestant to appear on the show, as the years have gone on you can see they’ve tried to add more diversity...they’ve definitely made a conscience effort to address that.”

Also testifying was 2019 contestant Yewande Biala, who said she had received social media training on "how to handle certain situations, how to block comments and people or how to report things".

Her experience on the show yhid year seemed to have been largely positive.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is investigating whether enough support is given to reality TV contestants, and is hearing from people involved in both Love Island and The Jeremy Kyle Show.

The enquiry follows the deaths of two Love Island contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, as well as the suicide of Steve Dymond after failing a lie detector on The Jeremy Kyle Show.

ITV announced earlier this year that new duty of care guidelines mean all Love Island contestants will receive a minimum of eight therapy sessions after the show has ended.

The committee was formed following consistent calls over the past year to offer reality TV guests more emotional support and aftercare.

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