Holly Willoughby gave ITV an ultimatum before the departure of her long-term presenting partner Phillip Schofield, a new report claims.
Schofield had hosted morning chat show This Morning alongside Willoughby for 14 years, until his sudden exit from the series last week. The presenter’s resignation came amid widespread reports of a “feud” that had developed between Willoughby and Schofield.
The Times quotes a broadcasting executive as saying: “Holly made it clear it was her or Phil but he refused to go until he was given something else concrete that he could announce.”
According to the article, presenter Dermot O’Leary, who currently hosts the Friday edition of This Morning alongside Alison Hammond, is being lined up as a potential replacement.
However, the executive added that there is “no long-term solution yet”.
Speaking to The Independent, an ITV spokesperson said: “Phillip Schofield’s decision to step down from This Morning was (as his statement made clear) a decision agreed between Phillip and ITV. “
On Sunday (21 May), ITV announced that Hammond and O’Leary would take over as presenters for Monday’s (22 May) episode of This Morning. Willoughby is currently away on a half-term break.
Presenters for the rest of the week have not yet been confirmed.
The Times also quoted a second broadcasting official as saying: “The show has been suffering in the ratings for quite a while and [ITV breakfast show] Lorraine is also getting battered by BBC’s Morning Live. Dermot makes a lot of sense, obviously.”
Willoughby will return from holiday leave on 5 June.
In a statement last week, Schofield said: “I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But, recently, This Morning itself has become the story.
“Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind. I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love.”
After the news broke, Willoughby thanked Schofield in a statement for “all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour.”
She added: “The sofa won’t feel the same without him.”
The Independent has contacted a representative of Willoughby for comment.