Holly Willoughby expressed her feelings of being “shaken, troubled and let down” as she returned to ITV’s This Morning following the departure of her co-host Phillip Schofield. The presenter’s first appearance since Schofield’s exit was met with mixed reactions from viewers on social media, with some questioning her sincerity.
Schofield left his role on This Morning last month amid reports of a rift with Willoughby and later exited ITV altogether after admitting to having an affair with a young male colleague while still married. Willoughby thanked viewers for their messages of support and acknowledged the impact of recent events on the mental health of those involved.
Willoughby presented Monday’s episode of This Morning alongside Josie Gibson, a former Big Brother winner who regularly guest presents the ITV daytime show. She expressed her gratitude for the support she had received and assured viewers that the show’s team would continue to work hard to deliver the programme they love.
In an interview with BBC News last week, Schofield admitted that his career was over following the affair, describing it as a “grave error”. A source close to Schofield told the Sun that he would not be watching Willoughby’s return on Monday, saying: “He physically could not watch – he’s not there yet. Even listening to the opening credits would be hugely triggering.”
Some viewers on social media were sceptical about Willoughby’s statement, with comparisons being drawn to Jennifer Aniston’s character in Apple TV’s The Morning Show and former health secretary Matt Hancock’s tearful appearance on Good Morning Britain in 2021.
Despite the emotional opening, Willoughby and Gibson quickly transitioned into the show’s regular tone and content, signalling to viewers and advertisers that it was business as usual for the programme. However, to maintain her position on the show, Willoughby will need to prove that she can still connect with viewers and establish an authentic rapport with guest hosts in the coming weeks.
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