Holly Willoughby has got no plans to leave This Morning
Phillip Schofield: PR expert on Holly Willoughby’s future
Holly Willoughby was on Sunday night determined to stay on at crisis-hit This Morning as ITV bosses pledged to save the show.
She moved to ride out the storm after the admission by her former co-presenter Phillip Schofield that he had an affair with a much younger male colleague.
With Holly looking after her children on schools’ half-term break, the show will be hosted on Monday by Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary.
A source said: “Holly wants to stay at This Morning as long as she can and hopes to ride out the scandal.
“Other stars like Stephen Mulhern are being approached to fill in for Phil on her first day back.
“Holly is determined to stay put – the only reason she would leave now is if This Morning is axed. She has absolutely no plans to leave.”
On Sunday, the broadcaster’s reputation took another blow when former This Morning regular Dr Ranj Singh said he had taken concerns about bullying to senior bosses – and been “managed out”.
The show’s future has been called into question since Schofield’s admission last Friday that he lied about an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a young male colleague he first met when the boy was 15.
The relationship was said not to have developed beyond friendship until the teenager started working at This Morning aged 18.
Schofield, who was married at the time of the affair, lied about it during a 2020 ITV investigation.
Holly, who hosted the mid-morning show alongside Schofield from 2009, said on Saturday he lied to her personally.
She described his later admission as “very hurtful”.
She said: “It’s taken time to process yesterday’s news.”
ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo was asked on Sunday whether mistakes were made during the 2020 investigation into the affair. He replied: “No.”
Dr Singh issued a statement on Sunday night on Instagram.
The TV doctor, who left This Morning over a year ago, said he had taken his concerns about bullying to “the top” of the organisation but felt he had been “managed out” – raising questions about what ITV knew and when.
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He wrote: “I’ve thought long and hard about posting this. If I’m honest, I really wish I didn’t have to.
“I was on the show for 10 years and…over time I grew increasingly worried about how things were behind-the-scenes and how people, including myself, were being treated.
“I didn’t know the truth about what was going on with Phillip, but I do know the issues with TM go far beyond him. It takes more than one person to create a culture.”
He said that he had taken concerns about the behaviour of editors and senior producers to ITV and then seen his screen-time drop.
He went on: “So I did what I thought was right and raised my concerns about (This Morning editor) Martin Frizell’s behaviour and the environment at TM, especially given that my job is to look after people’s well-being.
“I then found myself being used less and less. The culture at This Morning has become toxic, no longer aligned with ITV values, and I felt like, because I whistle-blew, I was managed out.”
Dr Singh ended his statement with a rallying call to people in the industry to stand up against those who “aren’t good” as he said that the whistle-blowing process had affected his mental health.
Schofield stepped down from the show “with immediate effect” just over a week ago, saying he wanted to protect its reputation amid reports of a feud with Holly.
Then he admitted to his “unwise but not illegal” affair and departed ITV entirely. His management company YMU sacked him.
One source said he had “lied point-blank to staff at every level”. But his dramatic admission has led to questions over the thoroughness of the investigation.
A source said: “Fingers are being pointed at ITV’s top brass. Even though Phil has admitted he lied to all of them, questions are being asked about everyone there.
“It is going to be a critical fortnight for the show – its wholesome image is clearly tarnished but ITV execs are not going to just throw the baby out with the bath water.
“The next few weeks will be a desperate bid to save the show – and the jobs of the execs.
“They are determined to prove that the brand is stronger than any single presenter, and that they can give it a fresh start after Schofield.”
Last week saw hosts include the newer generation of presenters including Alison Hammond and Craig Doyle, who interviewed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with bosses said to have been satisfied with ratings.
Schofield married Stephanie Lowe in 1993 and they have two grown-up daughters.
After the star came out as gay in February 2020 – on air with Holly – Stephanie praised the “brave step” he had taken and said she “always will” love him.
The presenter last week left London to stay with his mum in Cornwall and is believed to still be in the county.
He is understood to have been visited by his daughters Molly, 29, who is employed by his former talent agency YMU, and Ruby, 27.
Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes hit out at the weekend at the treatment of himself and wife Ruth Langsford. The couple were axed from their Friday jobs on This Morning last year.
He said: “Ruth and I [were] deceived and lied to. One day I will tell the story.
“We had no issue with him being gay, only support. What transpired took us for fools. The man told us complete lies and we unfortunately believed him.”
Former Loose Women star Saira Khan claimed there was a “toxicity” within ITV, adding: “They cover up for those they love and those they don’t they throw under the bus! Karma is a b***h.”
And This Morning’s consumer expert Alice Beer, 58, posted on Twitter: “Sad and angry. This sorry mess reflects on all of us who have enjoyed the fun and glory of working on such a successful programme.”
Meanwhile, This Morning staff are reportedly fearing the show could be rested or axed entirely.
However, an ITV spokesman said: “As we said on the record yesterday, This Morning is not under review and there’s no plans for the show to be axed.
“This Morning will return as normal tomorrow.”
In his statement last week, Schofield said he was “deeply sorry” for “having lied about a relationship that I had with someone working on This Morning”.
His statement continued: “I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning. Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than just a friendship.
“That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over.”
The revelations came after the TV presenter faced months of controversy, including reports of the rift with Holly and a row over their visit to the Queen’s lying-in-state.
Schofield was also shocked by his brother’s child sex abuse conviction. Just a day before he stepped down from This Morning, the star’s brother Timothy, 54, was jailed for 12 years for sexually abusing a boy.
Following the guilty verdict last month, the TV presenter said: “I no longer have a brother.”
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