Holly Willoughby will return to This Morning on Monday despite calls for her to step down in the wake of the Phillip Schofield scandal.
The presenter, 42, has taken an extended half-term break with her husband and three children after her co-star, 61, announced his departure from the show.
A source told MailOnline Willoughby will front the show on Monday as planned. She will be joined by Alison Hammond, according one report.
Willoughby, who has presented This Morning for 14 years, is reportedly determined to fight on to keep her spot on the sofa, despite the chaos at the programme, which has been prolonged by Schofield’s revelations that he lied about his affair with a much younger colleague.
The relationship took place while Schofield was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe and before he came out as gay.
Holly Willoughby will return to This Morning on Monday despite calls for her to step down in the wake of the Phillip Schofield scandal
The presenter, 42, has taken an extended half-term break after her co-star Schofield, 61, announced his departure from the show
Since his resignation, the show has been plagued by allegations of ‘toxicity’ – which has also hit Willoughby’s standing.
However, a source told The Sun: ‘She has made it clear she was one of the people Phil lied to and she has nothing to hide.
‘She will return to This Morning as planned on Monday and carry on like the professional she is.
‘Holly has been affected by Phil’s actions and it has been very difficult. She is devoted to This Morning, however, and will continue to do the best job she can for them.’ The Sun added a number of co-hosts will work on rotation with Holly.
MailOnline has contacted ITV and Holly’s representatives for comment.
On screen: Holly, who has fronted This Morning for 14 years, is reportedly determined to fight on to keep her spot on the sofa and is said to be joined on Monday by Alison Hammond
Speaking out: Holly is now battling to maintain her presenting gig on This Morning amid a number of calls for her to go, including Eamonn Holmes
Schofield’s bombshell revelation made to the Daily Mail on Friday has left ITV facing a ‘desperate bid’ to salvage the beleaguered show, the Mirror reported.
Schofield was forced to admit in the statement that he had lied about his extra-marital relationship to ITV, his lawyers, his talent agency and his co-star of 14 years – as well as his wife and two daughters.
Holly is now battling to maintain her presenting gig on This Morning amid several calls for her to go, including former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and Eamonn Holmes.
This week, Holmes predicted Holly will not return to the sofa on ITV’s flagship daytime show after Schofield’s bombshell exit.
During an interview on Dan Wootton’s GB News show on Monday, Holmes said: ‘Not only should Phillip go, but Holly should follow him close out the door.
‘I don’t think you will ever see Holly Willoughby back on the couch.
‘There are people who say for her it’s not about what Phillip did, for her it’s not about protecting the young fellow involved or whatever.
‘There are people who are financial experts who will say this is about brand protection with her.
‘She’s got her company and she’s got advertising deals, which suspiciously looks like she’s trying to distance herself from Phillip to protect those.’
Controversy: In the second part of his GB News interview with aired on Tuesday night, Eamonn questionned why Phillip and Holly were allowed to advocate drinking when they appeared drunk on air after the National Television Awards (pictured in 2016)
Holmes, who said he was ‘tossed out the door’ by ITV when he was dropped by This Morning two years ago, has alleged there was a ‘total cover-up’ on This Morning over Schofield’s affair.
He told Wootton: ‘Those in authority had to know what was going on and they thought they would dodge a bullet with this, which they do, and they do constantly, because with Schofield talking about those who speak out against him, namely me,
‘Amanda Holden and you (Dan Wootton), you’ll be included in the toxicity that goes on. Dr Ranj, of course, as well.’
In the second part of his GB News interview with aired on Tuesday night, Holmes hit out at ITV bosses for double standards, accusing them of pandering to Schofield and Willoughby, saying: ‘Whatever Holly and Phil want, they get.’
The TV host questioned why the duo were allowed to advocate drinking when they appeared drunk on air after the National Television Awards in 2016, while he was banned for promoting chocolate because it’s ‘poisonous’.
He told Wootton: ‘First of all, the National Television Awards, there is this event which you’ve got to understand This Morning, under the guise of Phillip and Holly, is a very false existent, F A F, I won’t tell you what those initials stand for.
‘The first word is false. And the second word is as, you can leave it the third word, and they are then allowed to turn up the next day advocating the use of drink,’ he said.
Former colleagues: Ruth, Phil, Eamonn and Holly in 2020, when they presented This Morning together
‘And sit on a couch, “I’m so drunk, I haven’t been to bed or haven’t been to bed either. I’m drunk or whatever, whatever”.
‘And yet, ITV this is at a time, the legacy of Ant McPartlin, lovely fella, lovely fellow, who was in a driving accident and he was under the influence of drink, and yet they can promote that.’
In 2018, Ant, 47, was twice over the legal drink-drive limit when he completed a breathalyser test after the crash.
He was fined £86,000 and handed a 20-month driving ban.
Eamonn continued: ‘But they come in doing their drunk act the next day. So it’s either an act in which case it’s false, or they are drunk, in which case it should not be allowed.’
The host went on to question why Holly and Phil were allowed to host the show while seemingly drunk, yet bosses put a stop to his advertising deal with a chocolate brand.
The GB News host admitted he is bitter about his former colleagues signing lucrative advertising contracts because he felt his opportunities were scuppered.
Holmes said: ‘Ruth and I are prevented from advertising chocolate in an advert, because it is a poisonous product. It would be poisonous to advertise chocolate, is poisonous, and you’re not going to be allowed to do it.
‘And you simply sit there and think, “No, mate. You’ve had it all your way for too long”.’
ANDREW PIERCE: How much did £3.5m ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall know about the Phillip Schofield scandal?
As chief executive of ITV, Dame Carolyn McCall has a role that spans all aspects of the business. But she once admitted to having a soft spot for Human Resources, or HR, the department responsible for hiring and firing.
Or, as Ms McCall said: ‘It’s about developing people, spotting the gaps, spotting the problems, exiting people when that’s necessary but in a really humane way.’
Former ITV stars Jeremy Kyle and Piers Morgan might beg to differ, both having been given the heave-ho by a woman who behaved more like the Grim Reaper than Mother Teresa.
And last week Phillip Schofield became the latest household name to leave the company on Ms McCall’s watch. If ever a man could be said to have departed with a bang rather than a whimper it was the silver-haired sidekick of Holly Willoughby on the This Morning sofa.
After a month of briefing and counter-briefing by representatives of the divided camps, Schofield’s career blew up spectacularly on Friday when he was forced to admit to the Daily Mail that he lied about his affair with a junior colleague more than three decades younger.
Dame Carolyn McCall (pictured) has so far managed to dodge much of the flak over Schofield’s resignation
Holly Willoughby (pictured right) with Phil Schofield (left) and his lover (middle)
Timeline of the Phillip Schofield scandal
September 2022 – Schofield and Willoughby are criticised for failing to queue for the Queen’s Lying in State.
April 2023 – Phillip is absent from This Morning for two weeks while his brother Timothy, 54, is tried at Exeter Crown Court for sexually abusing a teenage boy.
April 3 – Timothy is found guilty of ’emotionally blackmailing’ the teenager into performing sex acts and watching porn with him.
May 10 – Reports emerge Phillip and Holly are ‘barely speaking’, but a day later he issues a statement calling Holly ‘my rock’.
May 15 – The pair present a united front while presenting This Morning, but rumours of a feud continue. The pair are said to have fallen out due to Phillip’s failure to warn Holly of his brother’s trial.
May 20 – Schofield announces he is stepping down from This Morning with ‘immediate effect’.
May 22 – Stand-in presenters Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond pay tribute to their former colleague as ‘one of the best live television broadcasters this country has ever had’.
May 26 – Schofield releases a statement admitting he’d had an affair with a ‘much younger’ colleague but then lied about it.
May 27 – Holly blasts Phillip for lying to her.
May 28 – This Morning’s former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh hits out at the show’s ‘toxic’ culture.
May 29 – Schofield releases a statement denying claims the show had a toxic culture, only for Eamonn Holmes to slam him as ‘delusional’ on Twitter.
Holmes later takes to GB News accusing ITV of a ‘total cover up’ of Schofield’s affair.
In his resignation statement, Schofield described the liaison as ‘unwise but not illegal’. Given that the younger man was just 15 when they met, ‘unwise’ doesn’t begin to cover it.
Cue his immediate departure from ITV and his resignation as host of this Saturday’s British Soap Awards, a ceremony he had anchored for 17 years. Carolyn McCall has so far managed to dodge much of the flak over Schofield’s resignation, but the departure of one of ITV’s biggest stars and speculation over whether his co-presenter Holly Willoughby will ever return to host This Morning have triggered questions about Ms McCall’s future, too.
Her supporters at the increasingly crisis-torn ITV, – and, from the people I’ve talked to, they are dwindling – respond by arguing that such matters are the preserve of Kevin Lygo, the director of programmes (incidentally, someone with whom Ms McCall is said to have a strained relationship).
But on Monday Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun, muddied the waters around Ms McCall and Schofield further. He tweeted about a so-called secret meeting three years ago, which he says was held with executives from The Sun over Schofield and his sexuality.
MacKenzie claims Ms McCall was at the meeting and, as the Mail went to press last night, ITV had yet to come back with a comment.
It is certainly true that Ms McCall, who is said to work 14-hour days, has taken a very hands-on approach to managing talent in the past. She was deeply involved in the exit of Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain in March 2021, for example. After referring to Meghan Markle as ‘Princess Pinocchio’, Morgan refused to apologise for the implication that the Duchess of Sussex was a liar.
While Kevin Lygo was the man who showed him the door, Morgan later discovered that, less than 24 hours before he was fired, the Duchess had written to Carolyn McCall. And Morgan does not forgive or forget easily.
At the weekend he tweeted: ‘Re veracity of ITV management denials, worth recalling that I was forced out of my ITV job after Meghan Markle wrote to CEO, Dame Carolyn McCall, demanding I be fired for disbelieving her lies.
‘Dame Carolyn denies this had anything to do with my departure, which is also a lie.’
While the ITV boss has not responded directly to Morgan’s latest broadside, she did give an interview shortly after his departure denying that the letter had made any difference: ‘I can say it had absolutely no effect on that situation. None.’
Suffice to say, the turbulent events of recent days are far from the first controversy during the five-year tenure of a woman who made her name in the City as chief executive of The Guardian.
Indeed, The Guardian and its achingly woke values are imprinted in her DNA. When she arrived at ITV, for example, she apparently made it clear to anyone who would listen that she loathed the Jeremy Kyle Show, which had run for 14 series.
With an audience regularly in excess of one million, the programme was the most popular in ITV’s daytime schedule, but its tabloid format – based on confrontations between guests attempting to resolve their dramatic personal problems – was anathema to the high-minded Ms McCall.
After the suicide of a guest in 2019, which many blamed on the show, she saw her chance. ‘Given the gravity of recent events we have decided to end production of The Jeremy Kyle Show,’ she said.
‘The Jeremy Kyle Show has had a loyal audience and has been made by a dedicated production team for 14 years, but now is the right time for the show to end.’ It was a different story with the glossier Love Island.
Despite the tragic suicide of its host Caroline Flack a year later, which followed the deaths of two former contestants – both of whom killed themselves – the show, which attracted 2.4 million viewers last summer, was allowed to remain on air.
Perhaps these tragedies have informed a regime at ITV that has all the trappings of millennial self-indulgence. Under Ms McCall, the firm launched a series of ‘self-care’ classes for staff including origami lessons and ‘racial fluency’ courses.
The broadcaster has also launched a range of networking groups welcoming women, gay workers, those with disabilities, and minority ethnic staff.
Piers Morgan might beg to differ about Ms McCall’s soft spot for human resources
There are no groups for white, heterosexual men, however, an issue that has been the subject of complaints in some quarters.
Dame Carolyn Julia McCall was born and brought up in Bangalore in India and Singapore, where her Scottish father ran a Far East division of a US textiles firm.
She moved to England when she was a teenager and after a convent education studied history and politics at Kent University where she met her entrepreneur husband Peter. They have three children.
After a brief and unhappy spell as a secondary school teacher, she did a Masters in politics at the University of London, a qualification that landed her an ad sales job at The Guardian before she worked her way through the ranks to the top.
From there she moved on to EasyJet and her seven years at the helm of the budget airline were so successful she was made a Dame for services to aviation. A multi-millionaire following a £5million golden goodbye from EasyJet, things have gone less well at ITV.
Her predecessor Alan Crozier presided over a quadrupling of the share price during his seven-year reign but – under Ms McCall –shares in the firm have fallen from £1.70 when she arrived in 2018 to 71p yesterday, a 58 per cent drop.
Not that this performance is reflected in her salary, which last year was £3.54million, up by £240,000 on 2021, a 6.7 per cent pay rise. Most ITV staff had to content themselves with a 3 per cent rise.
While the gloss may have worn off her business career somewhat at ITV, she still swears by a mantra borrowed from Renaissance painter and sculptor Michelangelo: ‘Greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that it is too low and reach it.’
Given the events of recent days, perhaps Dame Carolyn should aim no higher than saving ITV from any further humiliation.