Caroline Flack reveals why she rejects the pressure on women to settle down after breaking off her engagement to Andrew Brady — and who will win this year's Love Island

Jack and Dani, obvs, and Josh and Kaz, who Caroline says “make total sense” when she sees them together.

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Wes and Megan? Hmm. While their “sexual chemistry is tangible”, she’s not completely sure it’ll last once the most famous villa in Majorca closes its doors for another year after tomorrow night’s final.

“But just because some of them [from previous series] haven’t lasted, doesn’t mean their relationships were a failure,” she says. “It just means it didn’t work out in the long run. Just like a lot of relationships.”

Well, yeah… Which brings us – a little awkwardly – to the subject of Caroline’s recent split from Andrew Brady, after their whirlwind romance took everyone by surprise and saw them engaged after only three months of dating.

In an unfortunate case of rotten timing, the break-up is made public on the day of our cover shoot. On the list of things you want to do when going through heartbreak, having your picture taken for a magazine must come pretty near the bottom (probably somewhere close to hosting a television dating show where people are falling in love left, right and centre).

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But while clearly fragile at times, taking time between shots to compose herself in her trailer, Caroline, 38, manages to flick a switch on as soon as she steps on set and gets the job done, resulting in arguably her most beautiful shoot yet for Fabulous.

When we catch up again a week later, she seems stronger, but isn’t ready to go into much detail about the split quite yet.

“I can’t, it’s just too soon. I just can’t. It’s too personal and it’s too raw,” she says. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s life. I’ve got nothing negative to say about it. It is what it is.”

Reports have suggested that Caroline suspected former Apprentice and Celebrity Big Brother star Andrew, 27, of cheating and using her for fame.

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Then, just days after the split – bizarrely claiming a lack of money had made him “irrational” – he admitted he’d already met with the producers of Celebs Go Dating, which must have been a real kick in the teeth for Caroline.

What she is prepared to talk about – and challenge – is the sexist assumption that she is perpetually unlucky in love and, purely because she’s a woman in her 30s, must be eager to settle down and have children.

“I don’t fear being single at all,” she says. “When I was younger I did because people tell you that you have to have done this and that by a certain time – you should have kids by this time and you should be married – and we’re kind of taught that by books and fairy tales.

“But actually as you get older and experience life, you realise that it’s not about that. Love comes in all different shapes and forms – from friendship and sisters and mums – and as I’ve got older I’ve definitely learned that some of my happiest times have been when I’ve been on my own.

“Stop with the pressure to do things by a certain time. There’s so much pressure to be at a certain level in your job and at a certain place in your life, but if everyone was doing things at the same time then life would be so boring. Everyone reaches different stages at different times.

“I just think: ‘Why do you care? Why do you care where I am in my life?’ So I just ignore it and live life day by day.”

Not planning ahead, she says, has always stood her in good stead.

“I live hour by hour, day by day. I can’t even plan a holiday. I go on holiday like, the day after I book it. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next year or whatever. It’s the way I’ve always lived and I’ve done all right so far.” She adds, pointedly: “And I’m doing all right.”

Which is good to hear. Caroline has long been a favourite of Fabulous – funny and perceptive, complex and unorthodox, and with a vulnerability about her that makes her instantly relatable and hugely likeable.

She can also be combative. Earlier this year in a newspaper article, relationship coach Dr Pam Spurr warned her to stay away from toyboys, prompting a masterstroke of a comeback tweet from Caroline thanking her for the advice and asking what she might suggest as treatment. “A course of anti-women pills, and a shot of mind your own f**king business?”

Boom. Caroline is still bemused by the comments, but says she took them with a pinch of salt.

“Saying the men I go for is a ‘habit’? What a strange person she is. Diagnosing me over my taste in men like it’s a medical condition – that is the weirdest thing I’ve ever read. I found it funny, really. I mean, mind your own bloody business!”

She laughs. “I just thought it was really stupid.”

Would Dr Pam have said what she did about a man?

“No, she wouldn’t. Look, it didn’t get to me at all, but I thought I’d use my right to reply.”

A big feature of Caroline’s Instagram Stories recently has been her new French bulldog ball of energy, Ruby, who is regularly seen tearing various items of clothing to shreds. Ruby ties her to Andrew, and the two of them are currently sharing her.

“We’ve got Ruby,” she clarifies when it’s mentioned she’s got her to come home to. “We’ve got joint custody of our little doggy who we both love dearly. And she’s so lovely.”

Whatever turmoil Caroline is experiencing in her personal life, she’s holding it together admirably for tomorrow’s Love Island final.

She’s just as heavily invested in the show as the most ardent fan – probably more so – and she defends the islanders to the hilt, refusing to be drawn into discussion on the rights and wrongs of their various behaviours.

“People need to go a bit easier on them. They’re young people and they’re in there having a good time, doing what people do in real life. Give them a break! Let people make their own choices.”

She particularly likes Laura Anderson, 29, and has felt from day one that she was the girl she related to the most.

“Maybe that’s because she’s a bit older than the others, but sometimes you have that instant connection with the islanders. I had it last year with Olivia [Attwood], weirdly. Laura’s lovely and she’s maybe had the most drama of everyone in there, but she’s handled it the most calmly. Maybe that comes with age.”

She has also enjoyed watching Dr Alex grow in confidence and found his initial awkwardness around the girls “endearing”.

“Not everyone is a Jack the Lad, and it’s been nice to have different personalities in there. He’s gone on his own journey and met people he wouldn’t socialise with in the real world. He’s so lovely when you meet him, and he’s gorgeous! He’s got these beautiful eyes, he’s tall – he’s a real catch.”

With a villa full of scantily clad nubile young things, there has, of course, been plenty of sex, but compared to the first series back in 2015 it’s almost incidental and by no means the focus of the show.

“We only show the sex if it’s part of the storyline,” says Caroline. “It’s not sex for sex’s sake. And people aren’t really interested in it. They want to know what people are thinking and feeling.

“I think people have grabbed on to what the show is about, and it’s so much more than sex, abs and boobs. There will always be snobbery with reality TV. But it’s definitely proved itself and I think we do it pretty well.”

One of the talking points has been the amount of cosmetic surgery on display. One columnist recently lamented that the series featured “the most mutilated bodies on the planet” and questioned what message this was sending. Megan is only 24 and yet unrecognisable from the girl she was a few years ago, having reportedly spent £40,000 on surgery.

“I don’t think there is a lot of surgery this year,” says Caroline, on the defensive again. “When you see the girls in the flesh they are really natural-looking – you can’t say they’re not real girls. Just because they’re all particularly pretty, it doesn’t mean they’re not real. They might look like they’ve had a lot of work done, but they’re actually just really attractive.

“Look at Samira, she’s a fitness freak and a brilliant role model – she’s a dancer and there’s nothing fake about her body. She works really hard.”

A mental health charity meanwhile has criticised ITV for airing cosmetic surgery ads during the breaks.

Caroline says: “I try to avoid all the media stuff that comes with it, because if you let yourself get absorbed in that then you lose some of what the show really means. Our job is to make the show and make it the best it possibly can be, not to listen to all the criticism.”

And so to tomorrow’s final. After eight long weeks, it’s hard to see how Jack and Dani, the favourites from day one, will be beaten.

“You never know. They haven’t been consistent,” says Caroline. “It’s not always been plain sailing. Dani was the classic girl in a relationship at the start, a little bit insecure. She was worried about how many relationships Jack had been in and that he’d cheated in the past, and what he’s done is completely secured her. And they’ve now got to that lovely point where she feels completely comfortable with him, and it’s just been that gorgeous way a man can make a woman feel really secure.

“They are genuine. I see it and I feel it when I go into the villa. I felt it with Adam and Zara as well. I knew it.”

After Love Island, there’s a new TV project coming up (“something really different”) and, she hopes, another collection with River Island following the success of her summer range.

“And I’d love to do more theatre,” Caroline adds.

“It’s hard because you have to give a big chunk of your time. I still dream of playing Roxy in Chicago – at some point I will get to do that role. I just like being kept on my toes and trying lots of different things.”

She says she has developed “quite a thick skin” when it comes to jobs and learned not to dwell on the setbacks.

“That’s the industry – there are ups and downs all the time. It’s been like that since day dot with me.

You have to take it on the chin. West End auditions when I was younger got me used to the knockbacks, and you can’t take things personally. I’m ridiculously grateful for all the opportunities I get and I will never take it for granted. Same with any job, really.”

There are no plans to do another tell-all book, though. She confides that her 2015 autobiography Storm In A C Cup, which detailed some of her most traumatic break-ups, left her feeling much more exposed than she was comfortable with.

“I didn’t enjoy doing the book,” she admits. “Part of me regrets giving a bit too much of myself. Sometimes you do things in the moment and you look back and think: ‘Do you know what, I probably should have just kept things to myself.’ I’m still proud of it, but I wrote it at a really weird time in my life and wish I’d written it when my head was a bit clearer.”

Ask her if she’s changed much since her 20s and she says not really. She worries less, maybe.

“You don’t make all your mistakes in your 20s, you make plenty in your 30s as well. And I’ll probably make them in my 40s – I’ll probably make loads more mistakes! But I won’t beat myself up about it.

“I’m human and normal and if I make a mistake again, then so what? I’ll move on and learn from it.”

  • Watch Love Island: The Live Final tomorrow, 9pm, ITV2
  • Hair: Dino Pereira using Kiehl’s Since 1851 Magic Elixir
  • Make-up: Christian Vermaak using Mac cosmetics
  • Styling: Nana Acheampong


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