The ITV house of cards: Bosses can’t sack Holly without bringing down management, friends


This Morning cannot sack Holly Willoughby without bringing down the show’s entire senior management like a house of cards – insiders claim.

They say the 42-year-old is needed to ‘steady the ship’ – while her departure would mean ITV bosses are questioned about whether they knew of Phillip Schofield‘s affair.

It comes as the presenter is flying home from a holiday in Portugal ahead of her return to the sofa on Monday.

Insiders at ITV insist that she is going nowhere because she is needed to ‘steady the ship, and keep calm and carry on’ — and be at the forefront of any rebrand of This Morning required as the show fights for survival.

And they say that there would be no way she would accept being told to go while head of daytime TV Emma Gormley stayed. 

This Morning cannot sack Holly Willoughby without bringing down the show's entire senior management like a house of cards - insiders claim

This Morning cannot sack Holly Willoughby without bringing down the show’s entire senior management like a house of cards – insiders claim

Friends say Holly Willoughby is needed to 'steady the ship' - while her departure would mean ITV bosses are questioned about whether they knew of Phillip Schofield's affair

Friends say Holly Willoughby is needed to ‘steady the ship’ – while her departure would mean ITV bosses are questioned about whether they knew of Phillip Schofield’s affair

Things are also looking shaky for chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall who has been called before the Government's Select Committee later this month

Things are also looking shaky for chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall who has been called before the Government’s Select Committee later this month

ITV’s senior management has come under increasing pressure to admit whether they were aware of Schofield’s relationship.

Things are also looking shaky for chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall who has been called before the Government’s Select Committee later this month. 

She will have to face questions over the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling in the wake of the scandal over her former star on Wednesday, June 14.

On Wednesday she was forced into a humiliating climbdown, when they announced the broadcaster was bringing in a barrister to ‘carry out an external review to establish the facts’ around the chaos that has engulfed ITV since Schofield admitted to his affair.

It comes after Ms McCall wrote a letter to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes and Ms Dinenage yesterday regarding ITV’s own investigation into rumours of the affair in ‘late 2019/early 2020’.

ITV director of television Kevin Lygo is also under pressure. 

He claimed no mistakes had been made in the 2020 investigation but declined to comment beyond the channel’s statement, when questioned by Sky News.

This Morning editor Martin Frizell – who has been in charge of the flagship show since 2016 – could also be in line for the chop.

ITV director of television Kevin Lygo claimed no mistakes had been made in the 2020 investigation but declined to comment beyond the channel's statement

ITV director of television Kevin Lygo claimed no mistakes had been made in the 2020 investigation but declined to comment beyond the channel’s statement

This Morning editor Martin Frizell - who has been in charge of the flagship show since 2016 - could be in line for the chop

This Morning editor Martin Frizell – who has been in charge of the flagship show since 2016 – could be in line for the chop

Emma Gormley - who was appointed in 2013 to run programmes airing between 6am and 6pm - could face questions over how the relationship between Schofield and the young showrunner went seemingly unnoticed

Emma Gormley – who was appointed in 2013 to run programmes airing between 6am and 6pm – could face questions over how the relationship between Schofield and the young showrunner went seemingly unnoticed

He has not commented but is reportedly in favour of Alison Hammond joining Ms Willoughby on the sofa.

He said that ‘all will be made public’ earlier this week, saying that he would ‘stick with’ the statement made by Carolyn McCall when questioned by GB News.

Earlier this week he was criticised by Nadine Dorries, the Daily Mail columnist and former culture secretary, who told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: ‘I think the editor of the programme has some questions to answer himself.’

And Emma Gormley – who was appointed in 2013 to run programmes airing between 6am and 6pm – could face questions over how the relationship between Schofield and the young showrunner went seemingly unnoticed.

And ITV chiefs have another problem — their rivals the BBC, as they are aware the broadcaster are looking to scoop Holly up and make her their biggest star should she be booted out of ITV towers.

They have been trying to poach her for several years, and when she last dipped her toe into Beeb waters with her prime-time show Freeze The Fear with Wim Hof, she won plaudits from the most senior management at the Corporation. Few more so than the powerful chief content officer Charlotte Moore.

The two women were seen together at last year’s Variety showbusiness awards, something which sent shockwaves through ITV.

Sources at the BBC have gone as far as to divulge that Moore is secretly hoping ITV will decide to part company with Holly.

The BBC are are looking to scoop Holly up and make her their biggest star should she be booted out of ITV towers

The BBC are are looking to scoop Holly up and make her their biggest star should she be booted out of ITV towers

It comes after Phillip, 61, admitted his TV career is over and he has been shunned by Holly

It comes after Phillip, 61, admitted his TV career is over and he has been shunned by Holly

The presenter explained how he messaged his former co-host to say he was 'so, so sorry' for lying to her about his 'unwise, but not illegal' relationship with the man who is 34 years his junior

The presenter explained how he messaged his former co-host to say he was ‘so, so sorry’ for lying to her about his ‘unwise, but not illegal’ relationship with the man who is 34 years his junior 

‘Holly will get bums on seats at home,’ one BBC insider says. ‘She is popular with the very-much-sought-after 16-24 age group, too, which is a huge deal for all broadcasters.’

Another source says they want to make the 42-year-old their Saturday night star for the months Strictly Come Dancing isn’t on screen. ‘That’s the dream,’ they said.

Her television executive husband, television executive Dan Baldwin makes programmes for channels across the industry, although his biggest customer is the BBC.

Holly Willoughby will reportedly be joined by two co-hosts as she returns to the sofa on Monday.

It’s claimed she will be joined by Craig Doyle, 52, on Wednesday and Thursday’s shows, after Josie Gibson, 38, sits alongside her on Monday and Tuesday’s instalments.

‘Josie’s bubbly personality is just what the show needs to bounce back from a nightmare few weeks,’ an insider told the Sun.

‘She’s larger than life and will ease the pressure on Holly, who viewers will be glued to after the loss of her long time telly partner.

‘Craig has also been lined up and it’s a sign that the permanent role is his for the taking. Viewers have taken to him straight away and, not only is he easy on the eye, but he’s a natural in front of camera.’ 

The BBC released an interview (pictured) with Schofield being grilled by Amol Rajan (right)

The BBC released an interview (pictured) with Schofield being grilled by Amol Rajan (right)

Phillip Schofield was seen on Thursday in London for the first time since quitting ITV and This Morning

Phillip Schofield was seen on Thursday in London for the first time since quitting ITV and This Morning 

It comes after Phillip, 61, admitted his TV career is over and he has been shunned by Holly – who responded with an Instagram post about how to keep ‘your hair safe all summer long’.

In his first broadcast interview since the scandal erupted, the presenter explained how he messaged his former co-host to say he was ‘so, so sorry’ for lying to her about his ‘unwise, but not illegal’ relationship with the man who is 34 years his junior.

But he denied he had groomed a younger colleague before their affair and revealed that he is suicidal, saying: ‘Do you want me to die? Because that’s where I am.’

On Friday, Alison broke down in tears on This Morning as she admitted it was ‘really painful’ to watch Phillip Schofield being interviewed about his affair.

The host, 48, who has been fronting the show with Dermot O’Leary during the fallout from the scandal, said the ‘family’ at ITV had been really struggling to process everything.

She said her late mother Maria, who died in 2020, used to tell her: ‘Use your Bible as a satnav in life, Al.’ Ms Hammond then quoted a passage from the Bible about a woman caught in adultery.

After watching the clip from the dramatic BBC interview in which Schofield said his daughters had saved his life, Ms Hammond was left in tears as she struggled to speak.

Regular guest Gyles Brandreth described the Schofield issue as a ‘human story but with public implications’, adding: ‘We are dealing with a human being that all of us here have known and liked over many years. So it makes it difficult for us.’ 

Pictured: Phillip Schofield and his wife Stephanie Lowe are seen with their daughters Ruby and Molly at the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018

Pictured: Phillip Schofield and his wife Stephanie Lowe are seen with their daughters Ruby and Molly at the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018

Phillip Schofieldsaid  he's 'broken and ashamed' but not a groomer in his first interview since admitting an affair

Phillip Schofieldsaid  he’s ‘broken and ashamed’ but not a groomer in his first interview since admitting an affair

In his first broadcast interview since the scandal erupted, the presenter explained how he messaged his former co-host to say he was ‘so, so sorry’ for lying to her about his ‘unwise, but not illegal’ relationship with the man who is 34 years his junior.

But he denied he had groomed a younger colleague before their affair and revealed that he is suicidal, telling critics: ‘Do you want me to die? Because that’s where I am’.

The broadcaster, 61, also lifted the lid on how Holly Willoughby distanced herself from him when his paedophile brother was jailed and confirmed they are no longer speaking after he left ITV, although he admitted she may have been banned.

He said: ‘I WhatsApped her on the day I put out the statement. I said that you don’t have to reply, you probably can’t, but I want to say I’m desperately, desperately sorry’, adding Holly, who is currently on holiday in Portugal, hasn’t replied.

But shortly after Schofield confessed he’d sent her a text begging for forgiveness, Willoughby’s social media team took to Instagram to share a blasé post about hair care – with no mention of Phil or his apology.

The former presenter apologised to his family, friends and ITV viewers for lying about the affair, but insisted that much of the criticism of him since he left This Morning had been homophobic. He also told of a ‘catastrophic effect’ on his mind.

He revealed he texted former co-host Holly Willoughby begging for forgiveness over his This Morning affair lies but she never replied.



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