Holly Willoughby said she felt “shaken, troubled, let down and worried” as she made an emotional return to This Morning in the wake of Phillip Schofield’s departure from the ITV programme.
The TV presenter, 42, was back on screen after being pictured in Portugal with her family on a half-term break following the shock departure of her former co-host Schofield and his subsequent revelation of an affair with a younger ITV male employee.
Willoughby said “we gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth”, in a nervous speech to open the show.
During interviews last week, Schofield told The Sun and BBC that Willoughby did not know about the “unwise, but not illegal” affair.
Willoughby was joined on screen by Josie Gibson and thanked viewers for their support.
Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes and the show’s former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh have both separately made allegations about the culture behind the scenes at the programme in the wake of Schofield’s departure.
ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall 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.
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.”
Meanwhile, This Morning editor Martin Frizell has been 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 Holly 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.”