Holly Willoughby’s full statement on This Morning
‘Hi there, good morning. Josie, thank you for being here. Right, deep breath. 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.
‘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.
‘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, Dermot, Alison, Craig and every single person that works on this show will continue to work hard every single day to bring you the show that we love.’
Holly Willoughby today admitted she felt ‘shaken, troubled, let down and worried’ as she returned to This Morning after the Phillip Schofield affair furore.
She said it ‘feels very strange indeed’ to be on the show without Schofield, adding that the team ‘gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth’.
Willoughby was back on the sofa today for the first time since Schofield’s departure on May 26 as she appeared emotional alongside co-presenter Josie Gibson.
Minutes earlier, she had appeared in a videolink on Lorraine before the show to talk about what was coming up, as controversy in the wake of Schofield’s exit continued.
She was returning after a two-week break following her former co-host’s departure and his subsequent revelation of an affair with a younger ITV male employee.
Willoughby and This Morning editor Martin Frizell were earlier photographed arriving separately at Television Centre in White City ahead of the anticipated episode.
Her return to presenting duties along with Gibson was confirmed at the end of Friday’s show, which was hosted by Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary.
Willoughby – who is said to be ‘nervous’ – is expected to address the Schofield controversy on the show, telling viewers how difficult it has been behind the scenes.
But friends of Schofield said he would not tune in to watch Willoughby’s return to the sofa as it would be too ‘triggering’ for him, especially the opening credits.
It comes after Schofield said he ‘didn’t tell anybody’ about his affair with his former This Morning colleague, confirming in a tell-all interview with BBC’s Amol Rajan that Willoughby ‘did not know’.
Similarly, in his interview with the Sun, the 61-year-old presenter apologised to Willoughby for lying to her about his relationship, saying: ‘I’ve lost my best friend.’
He added: ‘I let her (Holly) down. I let that entire show down. I let the viewers down.
Holly Willoughby tells This Morning today that she feels ‘shaken, troubled, let down and worried’ as she returned to the programme after the Phillip Schofield affair furore
Holly Willoughby appears emotional alongside co-presenter Josie Gibson and they share a hug
Holly Willoughby and co-presenter Josie Gibson hold hands on This Morning today
Holly Willoughby appears in a videolink on Lorraine today before the show with Josie Gibson
‘Holly did not know (about the affair) and she was one of the first texts that I sent, to say: ‘I am so, so sorry that I lied to you’.
‘She didn’t reply and I understand why she didn’t reply as well. So, yeah, if anyone is in any way linking Holly to this, that is -absolutely, wholly untrue.’
The duo, who had presented the show together since 2009 and also co-hosted Dancing On Ice before Schofield resigned from ITV, had been open about their close friendship over the years.
Willoughby’s return comes as the ITV show has been plagued by allegations of ‘toxicity’, including from former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes who has alleged there was a ‘total cover-up’ over the Schofield affair.
The show’s former resident doctor, Dr Ranj Singh, also hit out at a ‘toxic’ culture, saying he raised concerns about ‘bullying and discrimination’ two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was ‘managed out’ for whistleblowing.
Holly Willoughby arrives to film This Morning at Television Centre in White City this morning
TV presenter Phillip Schofield speaks to the BBC’s Amol Rajan last week about his affair
Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on the sofa of ITV’s This Morning last month, on May 11
Phillip Schofield with his wife Stephanie Lowe and daughters Molly and Ruby in London in 2018
In a letter from ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall to Parliament on Wednesday, she said an external review conducted following a complaint made by Dr Ranj found ‘no evidence of bullying or discrimination’.
Meanwhile, former This Morning head of news Emily Maddick, who worked on the show from September to December 2019, claimed she quit the programme due to ‘bullying, sexism and a toxic culture of fear and intimidation’.
On Saturday, This Morning editor Frizell told a Sky News reporter to ‘read between the lines’ amid claims of toxicity, adding: ‘I think there’s some scores being settled.’
Dame Carolyn has been called to a parliamentary committee on June 14 to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Schofield’s exit.
Last Wednesday, she confirmed the broadcaster had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts.