ALISON BOSHOFF on latest drama in the chaotic life of Caroline Flack 

Caroline Flack is the mistress of putting on a brave face when it comes to speculation about her romantic life

Caroline Flack is the mistress of putting on a brave face when it comes to speculation about her romantic life

Caroline Flack is the mistress of putting on a brave face when it comes to speculation about her romantic life.

She endured abuse for her relationship with much younger pop star Harry Styles, and over the years has faced rumours of amours with a number of famous men, including no less a figure than Prince Harry.

She is also the veteran of several relationships which have erupted into public drama.

Only a year ago the 40-year-old finally called time on an on-and-off engagement with a boyfriend who called an ambulance to assist her after she was 'slurring' and apparently suicidal during a phone call.

Before that there was a long romance with music manager Jack Street, which ended with claims about his infidelity, was revived, and failed again leading to angry tweets from her.

The TV presenter has needed all her sang froid this week as she quit the hit show Love Island after she was charged with assaulting her boyfriend. It's understood that although she had already filmed promo material and done media interviews, she won't be paid her £600,000 fee.

She quit amid pressure on ITV from those who point out that allegations of domestic abuse are highly inappropriate for the presenter of a show that is all about love and relationships, no matter whether they are male or female.

While the network have supported Flack publicly the reality is that, given the circumstances, keeping her role was never an option.

As a friend of Flack's put it: 'ITV had the view that a charge of assault wasn't the best thing for a dating show — regardless of the circumstances.'

Yesterday she released a statement on Instagram, in which she said she felt 'the best thing I can do is to stand down from series 6' — the first winter version of the series — and thanked family, fans and her boyfriend for their support. She added 'matters were not as have been reported', and observed she was barred from commenting further 'until the legal process is over'.

She is set to appear at Highbury Magistrates Court on Monday on charges of beating by assault.

The unpalatable — and potentially career damaging — saga began when police were called to Flack's flat in Islington, North London at around 5am last Thursday after what was said to be a jealous argument with her boyfriend Lewis Burton, 27, got out of hand

The unpalatable — and potentially career damaging — saga began when police were called to Flack's flat in Islington, North London at around 5am last Thursday after what was said to be a jealous argument with her boyfriend Lewis Burton, 27, got out of hand

On Tuesday she released a statement on Instagram, in which she said she felt 'the best thing I can do is to stand down from series 6' - the first winter version of the series

On Tuesday she released a statement on Instagram, in which she said she felt 'the best thing I can do is to stand down from series 6' – the first winter version of the series

In a now deleted post, Caroline said 'I have never experienced such kindness and love in my whole life'

In a now deleted post, Caroline said 'I have never experienced such kindness and love in my whole life'

The unpalatable — and potentially career damaging — saga began when police were called to Flack's flat in Islington, North London at around 5am last Thursday after what was said to be a jealous argument with her boyfriend Lewis Burton, 27, got out of hand.

There are reports that she and Burton, a model and tennis professional, had a drunken row over some 'flirty texts' sent to Burton by a 60-year-old woman in his tennis coaching class.

He dialled 999 and emergency services found broken glass at the home and both parties with minor cuts. Caroline was taken to hospital by ambulance, then arrested and charged.

A friend said: 'It was a stupid drunken row which got out of control. During the row a mobile phone hit Lewis and there was some glass which got broken over the floor.

'Both of them ended up with minor injuries, which were cuts. Neither Lewis nor Caroline wanted the matter to go any further, obviously.'

I'm told Flack, a 5ft 2in stage school veteran who was the star of 2014 Strictly Come Dancing, initially believed that she could continue to present Love Island from Cape Town. She was due to fly to South Africa on January 2 and the series begins on the 12th

I'm told Flack, a 5ft 2in stage school veteran who was the star of 2014 Strictly Come Dancing, initially believed that she could continue to present Love Island from Cape Town. She was due to fly to South Africa on January 2 and the series begins on the 12th

I'm told Flack, a 5ft 2in stage school veteran who was the star of 2014 Strictly Come Dancing, initially believed that she could continue to present Love Island from Cape Town. She was due to fly to South Africa on January 2 and the series begins on the 12th.

Friends said over the weekend she felt the attention was 'annoying' but the matter would drop. One reason for this may be that Burton has taken to Instagram repeatedly to say he loved her and she is 'loyal' and 'kind'. Sources claim he will not support her prosecution.

The belief seems to have been that without the co-operation of a victim, the charges would go away. However, prosecutions are brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, and it is possible for a case to go ahead without the support of an injured party.

But although the court appearance is scheduled for Monday, Caroline's team still hope the prosecution will not go ahead.

However by yesterday morning, she opted to pull out of the show because sources say it became clear the network wanted her to.

One friend said: 'ITV felt that it didn't matter if it was dropped or not.' However, the pal added: 'This ought not to affect her three-year deal with ITV going forward after this show, and they have said that the door is open, as they did for Ant after the drink-driving. But there is no question of rehab being undertaken or needed here.'

An ITV statement said: 'ITV has a long-standing relationship with Caroline and we understand and accept her decision. We will remain in contact with her.' A senior source at the company told me: 'We haven't thrown anyone under the bus. We have offered Caroline every support and the door is left open for her.'

But the fact is that, even if criminal proceedings didn't cause issues with entry to South Africa, ITV could not countenance the presenter of a dating show facing criminal charges over a fracas with a partner.

Because, make no mistake, Love Island, which started in 2015, is crucial to its commercial success.

The network makes over £25 million from advertising, plus £5 million from sponsorship — and also profits from selling versions of the show around the world.

But the fact is that, even if criminal proceedings didn't cause issues with entry to South Africa, ITV could not countenance the presenter of a dating show facing criminal charges over a fracas with a partner

But the fact is that, even if criminal proceedings didn't cause issues with entry to South Africa, ITV could not countenance the presenter of a dating show facing criminal charges over a fracas with a partner

With Twitter — so beloved of the Love Island demographic which encompasses millennials and their parents — calling for a new presenter, and advertisers nervous of association with her, what choice did they have?

Love Island is already no stranger to criticism. There were Ofcom complaints over 'cruel treatment' of Dani Dyer when she was shown a clip of the contestant she loved with his ex-girlfriend, another contestant was accused of 'gaslighting' and two former participants have committed suicide with claims they didn't get enough after care.

With regard to Flack, some on Twitter say the network 'should have done it sooner', or that it 'should have sacked her' to take a stand against domestic violence.

While Flack said in her statement 'I have never experienced such kindness and love in my whole life', publicly far fewer voices appear to support her.

So how did this woman, the beneficiary of a £1.2 million-a-year ITV contract, manage to steer such a promising career into such a perilous place?

Caroline Louise Flack was born in November 1979. She recalls that she was a self-conscious youngster, paranoid about her skin (she suffered from eczema) and her legs, so skinny that she went to school — even in summer — wearing five pairs of tights to make them look fatter. She has a non-identical twin sister Jody, an elder brother, Paul, who is an artist, and a big sister, Elizabeth.

Parents Ian, a pastry chef, and Christine, who worked for a local paper, raised the family in the village of Great Hockham, Norfolk.

Prince Harry, pictured right, with Caroline Flack in April 2009

Prince Harry, pictured right, with Caroline Flack in April 2009

Caroline quit the local comprehensive to go to Bodywork theatre school in Cambridge, and started living away from home as a teenager to pursue her dreams of working in musical theatre, paying her way by working in a pork processing factory, as a magician's assistant and a waitress. She got her first break in 2002 as an actress on comedy sketch show Bo' Selecta!. A stint on Gladiators followed, before she was picked to front the ITV2 spin-off show I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here Now! in 2009 and 2010.

A presenting partnership with Olly Murs in The Xtra Factor came next, and then, after winning Strictly in 2014, she was promoted to co-host The X Factor. Since 2015 she has presented Love Island. She has benefited from spin-off deals such as an endorsement with River Island, and is said to be worth around £5 million.

Early in her career she admitted once turning up the worse for wear after a night out in Camden with drinking pals including singer Amy Winehouse, who later died after drinking a fatal amount of vodka. 'I've turned up for work still drunk,' she told an interviewer.

This unprofessionalism never happened again, but as she rose to fame she became increasingly famous for reported romances with celebrities. In 2011 she was at the centre of a storm when she started dating One Direction's Harry Styles, then 17 to her 32. Naturally, the band's fans were appalled. The backlash was vicious enough for her to seek therapy after the three-month fling ran its course.

One Twitter user said Caroline Flack 'should have been sacked' by the ITV television channel

One Twitter user said Caroline Flack ‘should have been sacked’ by the ITV television channel

Caroline Flack previously liked a tweet, which she has since unliked, hitting out at the premise of Love Island hours after confirming she is stepping down as host of the forthcoming series

Caroline Flack previously liked a tweet, which she has since unliked, hitting out at the premise of Love Island hours after confirming she is stepping down as host of the forthcoming series

Before Harry Styles, there was Prince Harry — whom she reputedly nicknamed 'Jam' because he was red (headed) and sweet. They went on dates in 2009, after being introduced by a mutual friend while he was on a break from Chelsy Davy, and she even stayed one night at Clarence House.

She insisted nothing happened — instead they were 'consoling' each other over broken romances. 'He's a friend and I regard our friendship highly,' she said.

Then there was Declan Donnelly, who was apparently bowled over by her flirtatious nature in 2008. Again, she insists there was no romance.

Comedian James Corden was spotted in a series of clinches with 'Flacky' in a dark corner of a pub in Camden not long after the Prince Harry affair.

She had a three year 'on-off' romance with drummer Dave Danger (real name Dave Healy) of Indie band The Holloways. A hook-up with comedian Noel Fielding is, however, denied, as are rumours of a liaison with Russell Brand.

As her spokesman Alex Mullen said in 2014: 'She's had an interesting life. She had a great time in her 20s.' Moving into her 30s, there was that serious romance with pop manager Jack Street, nine years her junior. They lived together at her flat in North London, but broke up in 2014 amid rumours that Street, who manages singer Sam Smith, may have had a wandering eye.

She then had an on-off romance with former Apprentice contestant Andrew Brady. They were engaged, but split up after rows. At a juice retreat in Portugal, Brady was reportedly asked to leave after a confrontation with her.

This week Andrew Brady posted a picture on his Instagram of a non-disclosure agreement, dated from around the time he and Flack got engaged last April, with the caption: 'Abuse has no gender'

This week Andrew Brady posted a picture on his Instagram of a non-disclosure agreement, dated from around the time he and Flack got engaged last April, with the caption: 'Abuse has no gender’

In November last year he called 999, saying she had threatened suicide after she was 'slurring and incoherent' during a phone argument. Her camp accused him of being vindictive and said there was no reason for concern.

This week he posted a picture on his Instagram of a non-disclosure agreement, dated from around the time he and Flack got engaged last April, with the caption: 'Abuse has no gender.'

After Brady she had a fling with rugby player Danny Cipriani and was spotted apparently kissing Strictly dancer AJ Pritchard at a showbiz awards ceremony, though he denied they kissed.

She describes herself as a 'hopeless romantic' just looking for happiness.

As she told an interviewer last year: 'I've never lived life traditionally or by the rules and I'm not about to change. Some people seem to want me to feel shame or embarrassment about who I am. I really don't.'  

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