Holly Willoughby has made an emotional statement upon her return to This Morning following Phillip Schofield’s departure from the show.
The TV presenter described feeling “shaken, troubled and let down” about the revelations regarding her former co-host and his affair with a younger male ITV employee.
Willoughby returned to the This Morning sofa after being pictured holidaying in Portugal with her family during the half-term break.
Seated next to her temporary co-host, Josie Gibson, Willoughby read out a statement she had written herself about recent developments on the show.
What did Holly Willoughby say about Phillip Schofield’s departure?
Willoughby began: “Josie, thank you for being here. Right, deep breath.”
Addressing the audience, she said: “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 well-being of people on all sides of what’s been going on, and full of questions.
“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 well-being 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.
“Myself, Josie (Gibson), 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 this show that we love.”
Why has Phillip Schofield left This Morning?
On 20 May, Phillip Schofield released a statement confirming he was leaving This Morning “with immediate effect”.
It subsequently emerged that he had an affair with a younger member of staff on the show.
He said that the relationship with the younger colleague “was unwise, but not illegal”.
The affair happened while he was married to his wife of 30 years, Stephanie Lowe. The couple separated in 2020 after Schofield came out as gay.
Schofield added: “I am painfully conscious that I have lied to my employers at ITV, to my colleagues and friends, to my agents, to the media and therefore the public and most importantly of all to my family.
“I am so very, very sorry, as I am for having been unfaithful to my wife.”
During interviews last week, Schofield said that Willoughby did not know about the affair, and he has apologised for lying to her.
He has spoken about the toll on his mental health, saying it has had a “catastrophic effect” on his mind and he is currently getting by “hour by hour”.
Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes and the show’s former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh have separately made allegations about the culture behind the scenes at the programme.
ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall has been called to a parliamentary committee on 14 June to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint-handling following Schofield’s exit.
An overnight report in The Sun suggested Schofield indicated he would not be watching Willoughby’s return to screen, with a friend telling the publication he “physically could not watch – he’s not there yet”.