Love Island star and fallen Miss Great Britain queen Zara Holland has broken cover to slam the hit reality show and call for it to be axed.

The 23-year-old blonde beauty says her life collapsed after she appeared on the show in 2016 – with her Miss GB crown being stripped away after she was filmed romping with fellow star Alex Bowen in the Love Island villa.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Zara has revealed she now takes antidepressants and attends therapy sessions after suffering a string of panic attacks after appearing on the show.

She also claims producers of the show only contacted her twice after she starred in the second series – once a day after fellow 2016 star Sophie Gradon took her own life in June 2018, and once one day after 2017 star Mike Thalassitis committed suicide in March this year.

Zara also claims she sought professional help with her own struggles after her mother encouraged her to – and claims show producers failed to offer after care.

“You think you're on a summer holiday and you might find love, but you are in a posh prison where you don't know what time it is and a voice in a wall tells you what to do,” Zara told the Daily Mail as she detailed her experience on the show.

“That show screwed me up. I blame it for everything. What it does to the contestants is terrible,” she continued – saying she felt she had been “brainwashed” during her own time on the show.

Taking aim at ITV, the beauty queen slammed the channel for failing to pull the plug on Love Island following the deaths of Sophie and Mike – comparing the situation to the recent suicide of a Jeremy Kyle Show contestant which led to the near immediate cancellation of that programme.

"There have already been two suicides in three series. Jeremy Kyle's been on for 14 years, but they're axing it after one suicide,” she said.

“How can they contradict themselves by taking one show off and not the other? Am I angry? I'm absolutely fuming. I was only 20,” she added.

Zara went on to provide insight into her experience of her casting process and experience in the Love Island villa.

She claims her psychological assessment ahead of appearing on the series lasted for just five minutes, and claims she was cut off from friends and family under the watchful eye of a chaperone (who told her when to go to bed) ahead of entering the Love Island villa.

She also suggests the emotional turmoil she endured on the show – including being dumped in favour of another woman within the space of 24 hours – went unnoticed by shoemakers despite her breaking down in tears.

"I burst out crying. I'd had a couple of glasses of fizz and I was missing home. I felt different to everyone else,” she said.

In the same interview, Zara suggests producers “decide everything” on the show, expressed regret at having her “first one-night stand” in front of cameras, and claims producers did: “everything to make her stay,” after she learned her mother had fallen ill prompting her to quit the show after 22 days.

She also claims to know one of the forthcoming contestants in the upcoming fifth season of the show (believed to begin next month) and has tried to encourage her not to take part.

However a spokesperson for Love Island has attempted to administer damage control of the claims.

“Zara has spoken to the production team regularly since leaving the villa and has recently been in contact to put forward suggestions for cast for this year’s series,” the spokesperson told press.

"Prior to going on the show Zara like the other Islanders were given medical appraisals that included psychological assessments. The opinions the Islanders have, decisions they make and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders themselves.

"It is always our intention to produce a show that is a fair and accurate representation of life in the villa.

"Our duty of care is a continuous and ongoing process for each Islander. This follows three key stages; pre-filming, filming, and aftercare.

"We work with both an independent GP and a psychological consultant to provide an assessment of the physical and mental health of each of the shortlisted cast members and their suitability for inclusion on the programme."

* Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]

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