Not for the first time, an ITV show is making headlines on everything from the trashiest of magazines to the loftiest of broadsheets, with even a parliamentary committee getting involved. Like Love Island and Jeremy Kyle before it, This Morning has become the show on everybody’s lips, due to revelations about Phillip Schofield’s “unwise but not illegal” affair with a runner, and allegations about a toxic atmosphere.
So I’d imagine Holly Willoughby is hoping her holiday never ends.
Holly will soon return to the near impossible task of fronting This Morning with no controversy, with no permanent co-host attached to the “and Holly” name, and speculation about everything that led up to her and her former BFF’s spectacular fallout. I can guarantee that countless news desks are currently adding extra shifts to cover the morning she comes back. While usually the source of her floral dresses are the main articles to come from the show, expect body language analysis, dissections of every possibly shady comment, and betting odds on who will be her number two.
So how does Holly navigate this? Well, first thing’s first – you can’t ignore the elephant in the room for long. Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond have been doing a sterling job keeping the burning ship afloat, but Holly can’t return and act like nothing happened. She must address the situation, whether that’s on the show or in an interview. And then – importantly – she must move on. A hint of “more to come” will keep viewers salivating for drama, and the show will never move on, and won’t be able to continue. Holly needs to have the final word on the situation in This Morning land. Sure, the saga may be trundling on outside the studio, but in that studio, she needs to create a new world where she is the monarch.
Because even ITV’s golden girl is going to struggle with this rebrand. This Morning was always about Phil and Holly and their friendship. Viewers tuned in for them showing up drunk after the National Television Awards, for their innuendos, for their fits of giggles. Now, Holly has to pretend that never happened and prove she doesn’t need a partner to carry the weight of morning telly on her shoulders. She must demonstrate in a revolving door of co-hosts, from Rochelle Humes to Alison Hammond, that SHE is the star. SHE is the reason This Morning is popular, and the show cannot go on without her at the helm.
Easier said than done, but we know Holly has form in keeping the train chugging. She was the one enlisted to replace Ant McPartlin on I’m A Celebrity during another ITV scandal, and while we thought it would be a disaster, her rapport with Dec made that series a hit. Holly is the perfect mix of naughty and nice, Celebrity Juice mixed with the Women’s Institute, Best magazine made sentient. She’s the girl next door, the housewife friend and the pin-up all at once, and most importantly, is a very experienced TV presenter. If anybody can keep This Morning afloat, it’s Holly.
It’s pretty daunting task. But Holly should remember that most ITV careers have thrived due to controversy. Heck, even Phil’s This Morning reign began when he stepped in to replace John Leslie. This could be her chance to rise, Succession-style, to irreplaceable the untouchable CEO of the This Morning brand.
Just avoid any queue skipping.
Emma Kelly is an entertainment journalist