Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary to fill in as interim This Morning hosts
Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary are filling in as hosts on This Morning today following Phillip Schofield’s departure from the show, ITV has confirmed. On Saturday, Schofield announced he was stepping down from presenting the ITV talk show with “immediate effect” after more than 20 years on the programme. Holly Willoughby, who Schofield has hosted alongside since 2009, will remain on the show but she is taking early half-term holiday leave next week and will return on June 5, the broadcaster has said. Hammond and O’Leary, who co-host the show on Fridays, will be on the sofa in their absence on Monday morning, but ITV has not yet confirmed who will present for the rest of the week.
The pair are both seen as potential contenders to take over Schofield’s role given their experience on the show. Hammond, 48, is currently bookmaker Ladbrokes favourite – giving her 2/1 odds. The beloved presenter first rose to fame as a Big Brother contestant in 2002 before joining This Morning in the same year. During her time on the ITV show over the last two decades, she has become known for her ability to reduce even the biggest A-listers into fits of laughter. O’Leary, 49, who has appeared on the show as a presenter throughout the years, currently has been given 4/1 odds by Ladbrokes. Viewers speculate that The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes and her husband, JLS star Marvin Humes, are among the other presenters that could potentially be in the running as well as Rylan Clark, Josie Gibson and Gino D’Acampo.
ITV has said Willoughby will stay on This Morning and will “co-present with members of the This Morning family” in the interim. Last Thursday marked Schofield’s last day on the show as the broadcaster said he will not be returning for a final episode. His departure follows reports of a breakdown in relations between Schofield and Willoughby. Schofield, who also shared the news in a post to his Instagram story on Saturday, said in a statement: “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. “So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me – especially This Morning’s amazing viewers – and I’ll see you all for the Soap Awards next month.”
He will continue to present “peak time shows” for ITV including next month’s The British Soap Awards and a new prime time series, the broadcaster has said. On Schofield’s departure, Willoughby said: “It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him.” The pair have been open about their close friendship over the years, which has included sharing pictures on social media of them while on joint holidays with their families. However, the persistent speculation about his worsening relationship with Willougby was apparently his reason for leaving the show. Last month, Schofield took pre-planned leave from This Morning around his brother’s sex abuse trial at Exeter Crown Court.
Former civilian police worker Timothy Schofield was jailed for 12 years on Friday after he was found guilty of 11 sexual offences involving a child between October 2016 and October 2019, including two of sexual activity with a child.
In April, Willoughby also took time off from the ITV morning programme due to having shingles, which is caused by the same virus as chickenpox.
Last year, the duo faced a backlash over claims they skipped the queue for the Queen’s lying in state in September.
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