Something snapped and I jumped in front of Holly Willoughby


ITV’s ‘Palooza’ is a curiously named annual event at the Royal Festival Hall, where the network’s stars turn up to be ritually humiliated in front of several thousand commercial marketing and advertising people who pay our wages.

As this year’s host, comedian John Bishop, put it: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Paloozas – like you, I have no idea what that word means.’

(In fact, it’s derived from the 19th-century American idiomatic phrase ‘lallapalooza’, meaning ‘an extraordinary or unusual thing’. In time, the term also came to refer to a large lollipop, which is more appropriate given most ITV talent are so full of self-adoration they’d lick themselves.)

 Coming so soon after a similar red-carpet shaming involving Taron Egerton at the Britannia Awards in LA, something inside me snapped and I ran over and jumped in front of Holly Willoughby, gesticulating madly and eclipsing her from view as she shrieked with horror and frantically barged me out of the way – while the paparazzi went wild with excitement

Susanna Reid and I hit the red carpet together, and things went well until we reached the vast bank of photographers at the same time as Holly Willoughby.

Suddenly, up went fevered cries of ‘Susanna!’ and ‘Holly!’ – and, crushingly: ‘Piers, can you move out the way, mate?’

My supposed ‘friends’ ditched me faster than Meghan Markle after meeting Prince Harry and I was left standing on my own, cruelly neglected, between the two posing divas.

‘Yes, move along, Piers,’ Holly chortled.

Coming so soon after a similar red-carpet shaming involving Taron Egerton at the Britannia Awards in LA, something inside me snapped and I ran over and jumped in front of her, gesticulating madly and eclipsing Holly from view as she shrieked with horror and frantically barged me out of the way – while the paparazzi went wild with excitement.

‘You’re bloody shameless, Morgan!’ Holly seethed beneath her fixed showbiz grin, knowing I’d now muscled my way into tomorrow’s papers by wrecking her glamour shot.

As I walked off the carpet, I was asked if I’d do a quick chat with Curtis Pritchard for Lorraine Kelly’s show.

‘Who is he?’ I queried.

‘A Love Island contestant.’

I walked over. ‘Piers Morgan!’ he exclaimed excitedly. ‘Great to meet you!’

‘Hi Curtis, you know I called you all brain-dead zombies, right?’ His cerebral cortex sprang into temporary life like one of the patients in The Awakenings.

‘You know what?’ he replied, after several long seconds, ‘I think I agree with you!’

Interview over. It wasn’t going to get any better.

Once inside, Susanna and I took our seats in the front row next to Holly and Phillip Schofield, and other ITV luminaries like Jonathan Ross, Keith Lemon, Paddy McGuinness and a vegan-ravaged slimline Simon Cowell.

Warm-up man Karl Lucas set the talent-bashing tone for the evening: ‘I’m recovering from a rabies scare: Janet Street-Porter bit me!’

Then Bishop emerged to really stick the boot in. ‘ITV is a firm of extremes,’ he said. ‘We’ve got Dermot O’Leary, who is the nicest man in television…’

(The cameras cut to Dermot, who actually is really nice, but frantically flipped Bishop the bird in an attempt to negate this damning rumour.)

‘… and obviously the other extreme is that ****head from Good Morning Britain…’

My head loomed up on the giant screen to audience roars. Then Bishop added: ‘… but Ben Shephard’s not here.’

He continued: ‘I actually have to thank Piers Morgan on behalf of all married men because it’s a brilliant thing a few days of the week to turn on the telly first thing in the morning when your wife hates you, and go, “Listen luv, I could be him.” ’

Susanna guffawed so loudly I thought she’d burst out of her tight red dress.

‘Davina’s here,’ Bishop went on. ‘I hear there’s going to a special edition of Long Lost Family where Boris Johnson finds out how many kids he’s got.’

He adopted his serious face: ‘Great to see the Loose Women too, they’ve done so much to shine a light on the menopause. I’ve lived with a woman who’s been through that and it’s a hard thing…’


Sympathetic audience nods.

Then Bishop smirked and finished his menopause thread:

‘… the Love Island lads are here with their girlfriends in what they think are hot bodies. You have no f****** idea what a hot body is! Until you can fry an egg on it, you have no idea!’

Kevin Lygo, ITV’s acerbic director of television, was even more savage.

‘This is an evening to thank everyone in the front row for their marvellous work,’ he declared. ‘Well, some of it is marvellous anyway. So many stars here tonight, or as I like to call them “employees”. Great to see Martin Bashir, fresh from Celebrity X Factor…’

Bashir stood to milk the applause.

‘All right, sit down,’ zinged Lygo, ‘you weren’t that good.’

Then he turned his turrets on ITV’s bigger fish. ‘Simon’s here, if he turns sideways you can’t see him he’s lost so much weight. I reckon he’s lost two stone, more if you count Little Mix. He’s got a fun new thing coming, a search for a boy band, a girl band, anything but a gastric band.’

As the crowd gasped, and Cowell choked on his kale smoothie, Lygo ploughed mercilessly on. ‘Amanda Holden was coming but broke her leg, poor thing. She said she had a boating accident but I know the real story – she broke it kicking down Phillip Schofield’s dressing room door on This Morning.’

Phillip, whose spat with Amanda erupted amid reports he vetoed her from being his temporary co-host when Holly herself stepped in for Ant McPartlin on last year’s I’m A Celebrity…, looked as if he’d just been electrocuted.

Lygo’s mischievous eyes settled on me.

‘Daytime has been magnificent,’ he proclaimed.

‘Thank you!’ I shouted.

‘Even with Piers Morgan,’ he clarified. ‘We get about 200 complaints a day to GMB about Piers… 100 of them from Susanna Reid.’

But all was forgiven when The Boss concluded with a delicious jibe about my new bête noire. ‘We have lots of great stuff coming up on ITV, including a complex ambiguous psycho-sexual comedy drama… that’s David Walliams’s Life Story.’


It was time for bed.