Holly Willoughby has made an emotional comeback to This Morning, expressing her feelings of being “shaken, troubled, let down, and worried” in response to the circumstances that led to Phillip Schofield’s termination from the ITV program.
Following the shocking resignation of her former co-host Schofield and his subsequent admission of an affair with a younger ITV male employee, Willoughby made her first appearance on television.
Seated next to her temporary co-host Josie Gibson, Willoughby said: “Josie, thank you for being here. Right, deep breath.”
She continued: “Firstly, are you OK? I hope so. It feels very strange indeed sitting here without Phil. And I imagine that you might have been feeling a lot like I have – shaken, troubled, let down, worried for the wellbeing of people on all sides of what’s been going on, and full of questions.”
In interviews last week, Schofield claimed to The Sun and the BBC that Willoughby had apologized for lying to her and that he had not been aware of the “unwise, but not illegal” affair.
Dressed in a sleeveless white buttoned dress, Willoughby continued: “You, me and all of us at This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth, who acted in a way that they themselves felt that they had to resign from ITV, and step down from a career that they loved. That is a lot to process.
“And it’s equally hard to see the toll that it’s taken on their own mental health.
“I think what unites us all now is a desire to heal, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”
Schofield has discussed the impact the scandal’s consequences has had on his mental health, telling The Sun that it has had a “catastrophic effect” on his mind and that he is currently getting by “hour by hour”.
Willoughby expressed her gratitude to the audience for their support in a message she penned herself. She added: “I hope that as we start this new chapter, and get back to a place of warmth and enchantment that this show offers for all of us, we can find strength in each other.
“And from my heart, can I just say thank you for all of your kind messages and thank you for being here this morning.
“Myself, Josie, Dermot (O’Leary), Alison (Hammond), Craig (Doyle), and every single person that works on this show will continue to work hard every single day to bring you that, this show that we love.”
Following Schofield’s resignation, former This Morning host Eamonn Holmes and the show’s former resident physician Dr. Ranj Singh each made their own accusations regarding the workplace culture at the program.
ITV’s CEO, Dame Carolyn McCall, has been invited to testify before a parliamentary committee on June 14 to address inquiries over the broadcaster’s handling of complaints and safeguarding in the wake of Schofield’s departure.
According to an overnight article in The Sun, Schofield said he would not be watching Willoughby’s return to television, with a friend telling the tabloid he “physically could not watch — he’s not there yet”.