Former Love Island star Niall Aslam felt like a ‘performing monkey’ in the villa.
The reality star – who shocked fans when he walked away from the ITV dating show in 2018 – has opened up about his experiences on the programme after recently revealing he was diagnosed with stress induced psychosis following his exit.
Niall – who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 10 – told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I was ITV’s performing monkey – made to do things I didn’t want to. It ended in me being desperately ill.’
Niall had shared his full medical records with Love Island medical staff, who decided he was fit to fly out for the show – although viewers weren’t made aware of his Asperger’s.
He has claimed the production team didn’t make any adjustments for him in the villa, and allegedly ignored his requests for simple food because his taste buds are ‘simple’.
Niall also had difficulties with being directed by producers – which is standard practice for reality TV – and noted how he struggled being urged to act up and play the ‘funny one’ to entertain viewers.
And he felt manipulated over one storyline involving a love triangle, adding: ‘Perhaps I was naive but the programme is pitched as contestants going into the villa to find the person of their dreams – not, as actually happened, being put with someone who the production team wants you to be with.’
After a week in the villa – which he claims included just one consultation with an on-site psychologist – he distanced himself from the group, and got ‘very stressed’, leaving the team concerned.
On day nine, he met with the series counsellor and executive producers and put into a car, although he claims he didn’t know where he was being taken – and even wondered if he had won the show.
He was taken to see a doctor in Palma, returned to set – where there was no ITV doctor – and the team contacted Harley Street’s Sophia Khalique, who worked for the show at the time.
He was given Xanax for his anxiety, and producers phoned his mother Maureen and urged her to fly to Majorca.
Now, his mum has said: ‘When I got to Niall, he was a totally different son to the boy I knew before he went on to Love Island two weeks before. It was heartbreaking.’
When Niall’s GP was unable to fly out to Majorca, bosses decided to send him back to the UK on a private jet, and he was then taken to the Nightingale psychiatric hospital in Central London, with ITV paying for his care.
After leaving the show, he issued a statement and revealed his Asperger’s diagnosis, while thanking ITV for its help and support.
However, he has now said: ‘I was told to talk about the aftercare ITV had given me. But there I was, sitting in a psychiatric hospital. Now, it all feels like such a cover-up.’
He added that the production team should be more aware of the fact they are ‘dealing with real people with real feelings’, and described the show as a ‘human zoo’ chasing viewers and money.
In response to his comments, an ITV spokesman said: ‘We fully supported Niall during and after he left Love Island and in line with his and his family’s wishes.
‘Our medical suppliers are contracted to look after the health and wellbeing of our Islanders. They have no input into the editorial side of the show.
‘All Islanders are free to make their own decisions regarding who they couple up with and the public vote or format decides who leaves the island, not producers.’
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