Holly Willoughby feared to quit This Morning over 'queue jumping' row
EXCLUSIVE: ‘Distraught’ Holly Willoughby in crisis talks with This Morning after being left in floods of tears over ‘queue jumping’ row as it’s feared she’ll QUIT show after she and Phillip Schofield begged ITV to address scandal sooner
- Holly, 41, was left in tears after being accused of skipping the queue to see the Queen lie in state
- On Tuesday’s This Morning Holly and co-host Phillip, 60, insisted they were in the press queue
- She has been left so distraught by ITV’s failure to act sooner that crew have been left fearing she could quit
- An ITV source insisted ‘it was made clear that it was part of a broadcast due to air Tuesday from the outset’
- Holly is contracted to remain on This Morning until 2023 but is currently being wooed by BBC bosses
This Morning bosses are said to be worried that Holly Willoughby could leave the show after she faced a fierce backlash for ‘skipping the queue’ to see the Queen lie in state in Westminster Hall.
The presenter, 41, and her co-star Phillip Schofield, 60, addressed the issue on Tuesday’s episode of their ITV show, saying that they ‘understand the reaction’ from the public but insisting that they did not skip the queue as they entered the hall in the press queue on work matters.
MailOnline understands that the pair personally insisted that it be addressed at the start of the show and believe ITV should not have waited so long to speak out on the matter – spending the weekend ‘locked in talks’ with TV producers.
A source revealed: ‘Philip and Holly are dumbstruck at the level of anger they’ve received in the past few days. They felt ITV should have made it clearer, right away, that it was part of a broadcast.’
Among those who waited their turn in the queue, which was dubbed the ‘Elizabeth Line’, were David Beckham and even Holly and Phil’s ITV colleague Susanna Reid, from Good Morning Britain.
After the claims emerged, a petition demanding that Holly and Phil be sacked from ITV quickly garnered thousands of signatures. More than 15,000 people have now signed it.
It was revealed today that around 250,000 people paid their respects in person to the Queen by seeing her coffin.
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan gave the figure the morning after the nation’s longest-reigning monarch was buried at Windsor Castle.
Flight risk: This Morning bosses are said to be worried that Holly Willoughby could leave the show after she faced a fierce backlash for ‘skipping the queue’ to see the Queen lie in state
The TV stars said they acknowledged the strength of feeling but refused to apologise, claiming they were at the venue to work as broadcasters for the people who couldn’t be there themselves
The insider continued: ‘When they started being bombarded with messages via social media they were simply stunned. They’ve been left astonished at the way the whole thing has mushroomed.
‘That’s the main reason they wanted something to be said on Saturday [when This Morning issued a statement] and why they were insistent the show needed to address it head on on Tuesday.
‘Holly, in particular, has been left totally distraught by this. She’s been in floods of tears at some of the things she’s been called and of the behaviour she’s been accused of.
‘She’d never jump a queue or behave in that way and is heartbroken that people think she would.
‘Producers and staff at This Morning are rallying round. They are a close knit team but there is a concern at how it has impacted on Holly and has left many wondering if it’s pushed her close to the exit.’
An ITV source told MailOnline: ‘We absolutely made it clear that it was part of a broadcast due to air on Tuesday, from the outset.’
ITV declined to comment when approached by MailOnline. Holly and Phillip’s representatives have not immediately responded to requests for comment.
On Tuesday’s show Holly and Philip said they ‘understand the reaction’ over the queue jumping claims and while they acknowledged the strength of feeling they refused to apologise, claiming they were at the venue to work as broadcasters for the people who couldn’t be there themselves.
Clips last week showed Holly and Phil walking through Westminster Hall last week as around 250,000 people waited to bid a final farewell to the Queen – many waiting up to 24 hours for the opportunity.
Suggestions that the This Morning hosts were able to jump the queue sparked outrage on social media.
Speedy: The pair insisted that they did not skip the queue as they entered the hall in the press queue on work matters
Schofield and Willoughby are seen in a video posted on TikTok leaving Westminster Hall after they carried out filming and were accused of jumping the queue
However, in the first episode of the show since then, Holly and Phil strongly denied the claims, and said they had been in Westminster Hall to work.
They said: ‘Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists we were given official permission to access the hall.
‘It was strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who have not been able to visit Westminster in person.
‘The rules were that we would be quickly escorted around the edges to a platform at the back.
A source revealed: ‘Philip and Holly are dumbstruck at the level of anger they’ve received in the past few days. They felt ITV should have made it clearer, right away’
Inappropriate: Holly and Phillip’s ‘queue jumping’ scandal comes hot on the heels of yet another This Morning blunder, when introduced a new twist to its popular Spin to Win game
New direction: The mother-of-three – who is married to TV producer Dan Baldwin – has also branched out of TV with her wellness brand Wylde Moon, which she launched last year
‘In contrast, those paying respect walked along a carpeted area beside the coffin and were given time to pause.
‘None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one filed past the Queen. We of course respected those rules.
‘However, we realise that it may have looked like something else, and therefore totally understand the reaction. Please know that we would never jump a queue.’
The author of the petition lashed out at the TV stars for being ‘able to push past thousands [in the queue] and get immediate access.’
They also claimed ‘ITV should be ashamed of exploiting the situation.’
Dootballing legend David Beckham turned down the option to skip the queue to stand in line for 13 hours to see the Queen.
Fellow ITV host Susannah Reid also declined the option of a ‘fast track’ and chose to wait in line late into the night to reach Westminster Hall.
While the Queen was lying in state, others were able to jump the enormous queue which stretched across London and could even be seen from space.
The 650 MPs were permitted to jump ahead of the queue, as well as members of the House of Lords.
Some parliamentary staff were also permitted to beat the crowds. However, it was pointed out that cleaners and security guards who work in Parliament had been told to queue as they are employed by contractors.
ITV earlier insisted Holly and Phil were filming in Westminster Hall and that a segment of them there would be shown on this Tuesday’s programme – which will be broadcast after the Queen’s funeral.
The channel also confirmed that the pair filmed mourners queuing to pay their respects before and after they entered the VIP entrance – but at no point joined them.
On Saturday evening, ITV bosses bosses posted a statement on Instagram which denied the pair had received special treatment: ‘Hello everyone, we would like to clarify something,’ it read.
‘We asked Phillip and Holly to be part of a film for this Tuesday’s programme.
‘They did not jump the queue, have VIP access or file past the Queen lying in state – but instead were there in a professional capacity as part of the world’s media to report on the event.’
Television insiders have since voiced surprise at why This Morning would screen a report from the Queen’s lying-in-state at Westminster Hall a day after her funeral and burial takes place, making it old news by Tuesday.
ITV responded by saying that the pair – who have personal assistants and a big production team – failed to send their requests for accreditation in time to go any earlier.
Holly and Phillip’s ‘queue jumping’ scandal comes hot on the heels of yet another This Morning blunder, when viewers were left aghast after they introduced a new twist to its popular Spin to Win game.
They revealed that the popular wheel-turning game had a new prize, where the show would cover winning players’ energy bills until the end of the year.
The game, which is a frequent fixture of the show, sees Phil spinning the wheel for the players on the phone. The wheel will stop on their prize, which usually includes lump sums from between £1,000 and £3,000.
Yet viewers were divided over the show’s offer to cover four months of energy bills, calling the move ‘dystopian,’ and a reflection of the ‘dire state’ of the cost of living crisis.
The following day, the pair announced they had changed the prize to ‘household bills’ with Phillip addressing the criticism by scoffing: ‘I wonder how much of that they can complain about online.’
After yet more backlash the game was eventually reverted to offer monetary prizes only once again.
Familiar face: Holly is currently contracted to stay on the ITV show until 2023, which would mean she’s been anchor on the programme for 14 years
In demand: BBC bosses have been keen to take Holly away from ITV. Her recent show, Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof, was so popular it has already agreed to commission a second series
Fears that Holly is considering leaving This Morning comes as she is being wooed by BBC bosses to front a series of reality shows for the corporation.
Holly is currently contracted to stay on the ITV show until 2023, which would mean she’s been anchor on the programme for 14 years.
Last month, The Mail On Sunday revealed that Holly Willoughby has been offered a big-money deal by the BBC to host its new version of the iconic show Gladiators.
The original Gladiators was hosted by former model Ulrika Jonsson and the ex-footballer John Fashanu, along with referee John Anderson.
BBC bosses have been keen to take Holly away from ITV and have her to themselves to attract big audiences.
Holly’s recent BBC reality show, Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof, was so popular it has already agreed to commission a second series, which she will host again alongside former cricketer Freddie Flintoff.
The mother-of-three – who is married to TV producer Dan Baldwin – has also branched out of TV with her wellness brand Wylde Moon, which she launched last year.
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