Brave Holly Willoughby fights back: inside her murder plot ordeal

Devastated TV star Holly is looking to the future after the man who threatened to torture and murder her is found guilty

holly willoughby

by Millie Payne |
Published on

Her world was torn apart last year when Holly Willoughby learnt of a terrifying and sadistic plot to torture and kill her. But justice was served last week, after the man behind the gruesome plan, security guard Gavin Plumb, was found guilty of soliciting murder, encouraging or assisting the commission of kidnap, and encouraging or assisting the commission of rape.

Following the guilty verdict, Holly fought back as she released an emotional statement in which she thanked authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service, lawyers and jury members involved in the case, as well as Plumb’s previous victims who had come forward. “As women, we should not be made to feel unsafe going about our daily lives and in our own homes,” she insisted.

“I will forever be grateful to the undercover police officer who understood the imminent threat, and to the Metropolitan and Essex police forces for their swift response.”

holly willoughby and josie gibson
her last time on this morning ©Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

News of a “very real threat” against Holly’s life emerged in October 2023, after an undercover police officer based in the US alerted UK authorities to Plumb’s plans. The former convict had detailed his bid to abduct the TV presenter from her family home, using chloroform that he’d bought to render Holly and husband Dan Baldwin unconscious. Plumb then planned to drive Holly to a disused farm building, where he’d rape, torture and murder her in an abandoned building. Thankfully, he was arrested on 4 October.

Days later, Holly announced she was leaving This Morning for good, telling fans what an “honour” it had been to front the beloved show for 14 years, before adding, “Sadly, however, I now feel I have to make this decision for me and my family.”

Speaking to Closer, PR expert Nick Ede explains what the outcome of the trial might now mean for the TV presenter.

“I don’t think anybody can get over trauma like Holly’s… when you listen to it, you see the images, this is a real threat. It’s really scary to think that it could get to that level,” he says.

holly willoughby and phillip schofield
presenting with phil ©Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

“Holly has a career that she has spent many years cultivating and I don’t think she’s somebody to shy away and live in fear. She has got such a great sensibility when it comes to her work ethic. But I do think that she could ramp up security – she has the financial means to make sure of this.”

The 43-year-old has since returned to TV with various projects, including her role as co-host of Dancing On Ice, as well as filming her upcoming Netflix series, Bear Hunt, alongside Bear Grylls.

But, according to insiders, there’s still been a dark cloud following her while Plumb awaited trial. She’s stayed relatively quiet on social media in the aftermath of the plot, and has also skipped showbiz events, instead reportedly focusing her time and energy on her husband, TV producer Dan, and their three children, Harry, 14, Belle, 12, and Chester, eight.

gavin plumb
security guard plumb was found guilty ©Shutterstock

Insiders have said that seeing her life and her family threatened by Plumb devastated Holly and made her reassess her career, and commit herself fully to putting her family first. According to Nick, the impact has been significant, but she’ll bounce back.

He says, “I think the next time we see Holly will be when she launches her new TV show, because that will be very structured, manufactured and protected. But for now, it’s time to be with her family, to regroup. Plumb’s verdict is a way of her saying, ‘This is what happened. The chapter is closed and now I can try to move on’.”

Holly had already weathered a storm before Plumb was arrested, after her former “work husband” Phillip Schofield’s dramatic exit from ITV in May 2023.

The TV presenter was apparently blindsided by Phillip’s admission of an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague, and though she put on a brave face as lead presenter for the next five months, she was reportedly devastated by the fact that he’d lied to her about it.

closer magazine cover

Holly had defiantly maintained a “business as usual” response to proceedings, but – ultimately – the fallout from Phillip’s fall from grace, coupled with the bombshell of the murderous plot against her, resulted in her stepping back from the show.

Now, as Plumb’s conviction hopefully closes the chapter on a terrifying time for the star, Nick tells us that her former best friend is likely to have checked in on her.

He says, “Whatever happened between them, Holly and Phil had a relationship for many years. I expect that he would reach out to her to make sure that she is OK, like anybody would do.”

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Millie Payne is a News and Entertainment Writer for Closer. She has specialised in showbiz interviews, features, articles and roundups for over three years and loves combining her love for writing, talking and all things popular culture.

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