Holly Willoughby made an emotional return to This Morning on Monday, opening the show with a monologue in which she said she was “shaken, troubled, let down” by co-host Phillip Schofield.
In her first on-air comments about the scandal that has engulfed ITV’s iconic daytime show, Willougby spoke with a cracked voice and had to be comforted by her co-presenter Josie Gibson after delivering her minute-long address to viewers.
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“Feels very strange indeed sitting here without Phil,” she said of her long-time friend, who stepped down from This Morning last month and later admitted to having a sexual relationship with a young male runner.
She added: “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. You, me and all of us that This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth, who acted in a way that they themselves felt like 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. I hope that as we start this new chapter, and get back to a place of warmth and magic that this show holds 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.”
Schofield has admitting to concealing his affair from Willoughby and his colleagues. The presenter said in an interview with the BBC last week that he felt suicidal as a result of the scandal, which was his “biggest sorriest secret.” He denied allegations that he groomed the runner, whom he first met at the age of 15 while opening a theatre school.
ITV has hired a barrister to investigate what was known about the relationship and whether its safeguarding standards were up to scratch. ITV CEO Carolyn McCall will face a grilling from UK Parliament’s influential Culture, Media and Sport Committee next week over the scandal.
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