The news about Holly Willoughby leaving This Morning shocked the country as soon as it was announced. Taking to Instagram, Willoughby released a written statement. So far, the TV presenter has not made any further comments.
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Many presenters and people came to her support after the announcement. 2023 has been a very difficult year for Willoughby as she’s had to deal with a lot of controversy. But in September it appeared that she had come out on top and found her groove again on This Morning.
The Queen’s funeral and a rumoured feud with Phillip Schofield
What people are now calling Willoughby’s ‘year from hell’ actually started in September 2022 after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
As the monarch’s coffin was placed in Westminster Abbey and a long queue of people formed to pay their respect, Willoughby and Schofield were given special access as journalists. That meant that the two presenters skipped the 20-hour line.
This was followed by massive backlash especially when people compared their behaviour with David Beckham’s who waited amongst the crowd. Following this event, rumours of a feud between the two This Morning hosts were circulating.
The feud was rumoured to be fueled by the wave of hate comments that emerged after the Queen’s funeral but not only. It was reported that Phillip Schofield hid his brother’s trial from her. Schofield’s brother was accused of abuse.
Phillip Schofield’s scandal and a failed comeback
Then in May 2023, Phillip Schofield announced that he was resigning from This Morning after his affair with a younger member of staff was uncovered. In his statement Schofield wrote:
I am deeply sorry for having lied to them, and to many others about a relationship that I had with someone working on This Morning.
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.
Following his exit from This Morning, Schofield was accused of grooming and had to resign from ITV and leave his entire career behind. After presenting the show with Schofield for more than 10 years, Holly Willoughby was not supportive and decided to take some time off the show.
When she returned, she attempted to make a statement but unfortunately for her it welcomed even more controversy. Some comments read:
That was some of the most excruciating tv I have ever witnessed. That has the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton bag in a Hong Kong market in the 1980’s
Shame on her, don’t like schofield but he did nothing wrong and owed her nothing.
God couldn’t even bear to listen to all of it what a load of insincere rubbish
After that, This Morning went through weeks of rotating co-hosts which left viewers really unhappy.
Willoughby’s expensive return
After barely managing to keep things as usual in June, Willoughby took her annual summer leave. As she was set to return to the show in September, ITV announced that they would centre the show around her and opt not to have a constant co-host but instead a rotation.
More than that, it was reported that ITV would be giving Willoughby a raise cranking up her salary above the current £700,000. The pay rise was never confirmed but was only 'understood' by tabloids.
These two decisions made Holly Willoughby the captain of the ship and placed her as the star of the show. While she had to share the spotlight with Schofield, the new season was supposed to be her moment.
But things took a very worrying turn.
Willoughby gets kidnap and murder threats
In the week of 2 October, it was announced that Willoughby would be stepping away from This Morning until further notice. This followed the arrest of 34 year old Gavin Plumb who has been accused of planning to kidnap Willoughby. More than that, on 6 October, the charges against the man changed and it was revealed that he had been encouraging the murder of the TV presenter.
Willoughby was reported to be having 24h police protection at her residence and on 10 October she announced that she would not come back to the show. In her statement she made it clear that it was a decision that was difficult but necessary in order to protect her family.
Now, on 11 October, many assume that Willoughby’s choice to leave This Morning is directly linked to the death threats but OK! alleges that actually it didn’t motivate her decision. According to them and the anonymous source they quote:
Holly spoke with her children and then with her husband Dan and her parents at length. She absolutely loves This Morning and has devoted herself to the show. But recent events have changed everything and Holly has to put her family first.
The unnamed source that spoke to OK! also alleges that the growing amount of hate comments she was receiving was the main reason behind her decision to leave.
For now, it is difficult to say for sure what really led to Holly Willoughby’s departure from This Morning but surely, all the elements stated above played a part.
LBC: From Schofield controversy to 'murder plot': Inside Holly's 'year from hell' as presenter quits This Morning
The Independent: Phillip Schofield’s statement in full addressing ‘This Morning’ affair scandal
OK!: Real reason Holly Willoughby quit This Morning - and it's not alleged 'murder plot'