Holly Willoughby arrives at This Morning studio
The ‘new chapter’ begins… but can Holly move on from This Morning scandal? Willoughby arrives at studio as she ‘pledges to never publicly address Phillip Schofield’s affair again’
- Holly Willoughby arrives at Television Centre in West London for work today
- She is not expected to again address exit of former co-host Phillip Schofield
Holly Willoughby has arrived at work today clutching a script and highlighter ahead of her second day back on This Morning following Phillip Schofield’s exit.
The 42-year-old presenter was photographed working in the back of a car as she was driven to Television Centre in White City, West London, at about 7.30am today.
But she is not expected to again address the shock departure of her former co-host and his subsequent revelation of an affair with a younger ITV male employee.
On her return to This Morning yesterday, Willoughby said she felt ‘shaken, troubled, let down and worried’ about the events that led to Schofield’s exit on May 26.
But she also insisted that the programme was starting a ‘new chapter’ and needed to ‘get back to a place of warmth and magic that this show holds for all of us’.
Insiders have said Willoughby feels ‘incredibly angry and upset by Schofield’s actions and is very much still trying to get her head around it’ – and yesterday’s on-air statement is the ‘only time Holly will ever speak about Phil and what has happened’.
Holly Willoughby arrives at Television Centre in White City, West London, this morning
Holly Willoughby was joined by Josie Gibson on her return to This Morning yesterday
Willoughby is expected to be joined by temporary co-host Josie Gibson again today, before being joined by Craig Doyle for the shows tomorrow and on Thursday.
Holly Willougby’s This Morning statement on her return yesterday
‘Hi there. Good morning. Josie (Gibson), thank you for being here. Right, deep breath. Firstly, are you OK? 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 (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.’
A source told The Sun last night: ‘This is the only time Holly will ever speak about Phil and what has happened.
‘She still feels incredibly angry and upset by his actions and is very much still trying to get her head around it.
‘It took a lot for Holly to compose herself and speak about what has gone on in the last few weeks. But people expecting her to sit and pour her heart out will be waiting for a long time.’
Yesterday, seated next to Gibson at the start of the programme, Willoughby said: ‘Josie, thank you for being here. Right, deep breath.’
She continued: ‘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.’
During interviews last week, Schofield told The Sun and the BBC that Willoughby did not know about the ‘unwise, but not illegal’ affair, and has apologised for lying to her.
Dressed in a sleeveless white buttoned dress, Willoughby continued yesterday: ‘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.’
Schofield has spoken about the toll the fallout of the scandal has had on his mental health, telling The Sun it has had a ‘catastrophic effect’ on his mind and he is currently getting by ‘hour by hour’.
In a statement she wrote herself, Willoughby thanked viewers for their support, saying: ‘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.
Willoughby appears emotional alongside co-host Josie Gibson and they share a hug yesterday
Holly Willoughby and co-presenter Josie Gibson hold hands on This Morning yesterday
Phillip Schofield told the BBC last week that Willoughby did not know about the affair
‘Myself, Josie, 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 that, this show that we love.’
READ MORE Holly’s vow of silence: Willoughby ‘pledges to never publicly address Phillip Schofield scandal again’ after tepid response to her ‘highly strategised’ return to This Morning
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’.
Also yesterday, This Morning editor Martin Frizell was criticised by an MP for his ‘deeply inappropriate and disrespectful’ answer to questions about allegations of a ‘toxic’ work environment at ITV.
Frizell was approached by Sky News ahead of Willoughby’s return to the show following the furore over Schofield’s departure.
Asked if there is a ‘toxic’ work environment at This Morning, he replied: ‘I’ll tell you what’s toxic and I’ve always found it toxic. Aubergine. Do you like aubergine? Do you? Do you like aubergine because I don’t like aubergine. It’s just a personal thing.’
John Nicolson MP, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, tweeted: ‘This is a deeply inappropriate and disrespectful way to respond to questions about safeguarding vulnerable staff and bullying in the workplace at ITV.’
Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes and former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh have both made allegations of a ‘toxic’ culture behind the scenes.
Holmes has alleged there was a ‘total cover-up’ over the Schofield affair, while Dr Ranj said he raised concerns about ‘bullying and discrimination’ two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was ‘managed out’ for whistleblowing.
Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on the sofa of ITV’s This Morning last month, on May 11
In a letter from ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall to Parliament last Wednesday, she said an external review conducted following a complaint made by Dr Ranj found ‘no evidence of bullying or discrimination’.
READ MORE Inside Holly Willoughby’s ‘highly strategised’ This Morning return: ITV bosses approved script shortly before she went on air on ‘one of the most difficult days of her career’ – but only gave Phillip Schofield a fleeting mention as she addressed scandal
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, 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.
She has confirmed she has instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts.
Magnus Brooke, ITV’s director of strategy, policy and regulation, could face questioning from MPs over the This Morning row when he appears in front of the select committee on June 6 for a hearing due to focus on the draft Media Bill.
SNP MP Mr Nicolson has previously said that he is looking forward to ‘getting some answers’ from ITV bosses about the Schofield scandal.
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