Holly Willoughby returns to This Morning 'shaken, troubled, and let down'

Holly Willoughby said she felt “shaken, troubled, let down and worried” as she made an emotional return to This Morning in the wake of Phillip Schofield’s departure from the ITV programme.

Ms Willoughby, 42, returned to the sofa after a two week half-term break following the shock departure of her former co-host and his subsequent revelation of an affair with a younger ITV male employee.

It comes after Mr Schofield said he "didn't tell anybody" about his affair with a former This Morning colleague, confirming Willoughby "did not know" in an interview with the BBC.

Thanking viewers for their support, Ms Willoughby said: "You, me and all of us at This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth. That is a lot to process."

In an interview with The Sun, Mr Schofield apologised to Ms Willoughby for lying to her about his relationship, saying: "I've lost my best friend".

He added: "I let her Holly. I let that entire show down. I let the viewers down.

"Holly did not know (about the affair) and she was one of the first texts that I sent, to say: 'I am so, so sorry that I lied to you'.

"She didn't reply and I understand why she didn’t reply as well. If anyone is in any way linking Holly to this, that is ­absolutely, wholly untrue."

The duo, who had presented the show together since 2009 and also co-hosted Dancing On Ice before Schofield resigned from ITV, had been open about their close friendship over the years.

Ms Willoughby’s return comes as the show has been plagued by allegations of "toxicity", including from former host Eamonn Holmes who has alleged there was a "total cover-up" over the Schofield affair.

The show’s former resident doctor, Dr Ranj Singh, also hit out at a "toxic" culture, saying he raised concerns about "bullying and discrimination" two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was "managed out" for whistleblowing.

In a letter from ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall to Parliament on Wednesday, she said an external review conducted following a complaint made by Dr Ranj found "no evidence of bullying or discrimination".

Meanwhile, former This Morning head of news Emily Maddick, who worked on the show from September to December 2019, claimed she quit the programme due to "bullying, sexism and a toxic culture of fear and intimidation".

Dame Carolyn has been called to a parliamentary committee on June 14 to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Schofield’s exit.

On Wednesday, she confirmed the broadcaster had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts.