Holly Willoughby has said she felt “let down” as she made her first This Morning appearance since her former co-presenter Phillip Schofield resigned over an “unwise, but not illegal” relationship with a younger man.
As she returned to screens after going on holiday, she said she felt “shaken, troubled, let down,” and “worried for the wellbeing of people on all sides of what’s been going on”.
“We have given our love and support to someone not telling the truth,” she added.
Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV last month over the affair and has since insisted he “did not” groom the man, who the presenter said was 20 years old when their relationship began.
Willoughby, 42, began the show with the emotional statement delivered straight to camera, while holding hands with co-presenter Josie Gibson.
She began with the words, “Right, deep breath,” and went on to say, “It feels very strange sitting her without Phil.”
She acknowledged that viewers would be “full of questions,” going on: “You, me and all of us at This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth, who acted in a way that they themselves felt that they had to resign from ITV, and step down from a career that they loved. That is a lot to process.”
While she did not go on to mention Schofield again by name, she did direct one more point towards him, continuing: “And it’s equally hard to see the toll that it’s taken on their own mental health. I think what unites us all now is a desire to heal for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”
Looking ahead to a “new chapter” for the show, she said she hoped “we can find strength in each other,” and thanked viewers for their support.
Following her statement, Gibson reached across and gave her a hug, saying: “All we can do now is be the family that we are.”
Willoughby’s return to the show comes after she hit out at her former co-host and accused him of lying to her over his affair.
In a statement last week she said: “When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not.
“It’s been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie.”
Phillip Schofield: Timeline of ITV departure
Schofield has given two interviews since leaving ITV – one to the BBC and one to The Sun newspaper. In both, he insisted Willoughby did not know about the affair.
He also said he had messaged his former co-presenter since the fallout from his departure, but said she did not reply.
Schofield’s affair took place while the television star was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe, and before he came out publicly as gay in 2020.
He had denied having a relationship with a colleague when questioned by ITV about rumours in early 2020.
ITV has since announced an external review of the saga led by a barrister.