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‘This Morning’ host Holly Willoughby has returned to the show after a two-week absence following the resignation of her longtime host Philip Scofield.
She was joined by guest announcer Josie Gibson.
Willoughby began the show by touching on the controversy over the past few weeks, ever since Scofield, who is married with two children, admitted to having an affair with a young employee on “This Morning.”
“First, are you okay? I hope so,” Willoughby told viewers. “It’s a very strange feeling indeed to sit here without an elephant. And I imagine you might feel a lot as I did: shaken, agitated, let down. Worried about the welfare of all aspects of what’s going on. And full of questions. You and I and all of us on ‘This Morning’ have given our love and support to a person He was not telling the truth, and who acted in such a way that they themselves felt compelled to resign from ITV and give up a career they loved.”
“This is a lot that needs to be dealt with,” she said, crying. “It is equally difficult to see the toll it takes on their mental health. I believe what unites us all now is a desire to heal for the health and well-being of all. I hope that as we begin this new chapter and return to the place of warmth and magic this show holds for all of us, we find strength in each other. And from my heart I can only say thank you for all your kind messages and thank you for being here this morning.”
Gibson and Willoughby then hugged before the pair moved on to splitting the day’s segments.
Scofield quit the show he has hosted for more than two decades on Saturday, May 20 after tabloid reports that he and Willoughby had fallen out. And she didn’t return to set on Monday, as guest announcers Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary stepped in.
The following Saturday, May 27, Scofield dropped the bombshell that he was having an affair with a 20-year-old jogger/runner (he had known him since the man was 15), a relationship he said was “unwise but not illegal.” In a later interview, he admitted that the affair began in his dressing room at ITV.
Willoughby – along with ITV executives including network chief executive Caroline McCall – said she had asked Schofield directly about the case when the rumors first began swirling more than three years ago, but the broadcaster flatly denied it. However, ITV still faces questions about how much they knew about the relationship and whether more should be done to ensure the PA’s welfare.
The fallout also saw a number of “This Morning” staff and former contributors—including former on-screen doctor Dr. Rang Singh and the show’s former head of news Emily Madec—criticize the culture and atmosphere of the daily programme, with Singh calling her “toxic” on Instagram. Meanwhile, in an article on the Glamor UK website, Madec said she was “not allowed to communicate” directly with Schofield or Willoughby during her time on the show.
ITV has now launched an external review, led by a lawyer, to look into the matter while McCall has been asked to attend a parliamentary hearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
On Friday, Hammond and O’Leary spoke about the controversy for the first time on the show, during the daily news segment, which sees the “This Morning” hosts and guests discussing headlines.
“It’s the most important story of the day and we don’t want to sidestep it,” O’Leary said of the Scofield saga. “Obviously it is very difficult for us to cover this story because he is a friend and colleague.”
The discussion focused mostly on the upcoming outside review as well as comments Schofield made in an interview last week in reference to his fragile mental state, in which guest Giles Brandreth urged “kindness” and said he felt sympathy and sympathy for the isolated broadcaster.
Holding back tears, Hammond said, “I find it really painful because I loved Philip Scofield and strange because I still love Philip Scofield. Whatever he did wrong, he admitted it, and said sorry. But I really — I mean as a family we’re all really struggling to process everything.”
For the full Schofield epic timeline click here.
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