Cat Deeley’s panic: inside Holly Willoughby’s emotional messages to her

As Cat Deeley begins her This Morning gig, her predecessor Holly who has been helping her cope with the pressure

holly and cat

by closer |
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She made her debut on This Morning this week – joining her new co-host, Ben Shepherd, as the new permanent replacements following Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield’s shock departures last year.

Fresh-faced and glowing after a sun-soaked break in Mexico, Cat Deeley, 47 – who shares sons Milos, eight, and five-year-old James with husband, Patrick Kielty, 53 – radiated as she took the reins following months of drama and scandal for ITV’s flagship daytime show.

But while the mum-of-two appeared to be calm and collected on screen, pals say behind the scenes, the star was riddled with anxiety in the lead-up to her start date and got a serious case of cold feet as the reality of her new role set in.

A source says, “Cat’s of course thrilled with her job, but it’s also a huge upheaval to her life, and the mounting pressure in the weeks before really got to her.

“The official announcement made it all very real, it made Cat spiral into a wave of panic as the magnitude of living up to fill Holly’s shoes, her hectic new schedule, juggling family life and being thrust back into the spotlight again with all the pressure and potential criticism that comes with that, suddenly set in.

“She felt so overwhelmed by it all that at one point, she starting doubting her decision and hinted that she should pull out – panicking that she’d made a huge mistake.”

After spending 15 years living in LA, the former SM host moved back to the UK at the start of the pandemic – continuing to jet back and forth to California to continue hosting US talent show, So You Think You Can Dance.

cat Deeley
cat deeley ©Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

During her time in sunny California, Cat lived a glamorous lifestyle among Hollywood’s elite – enjoying Stateside success as a hit presenter, living in a sprawling Beverly Hills mansion amidst some of Tinseltown’s biggest stars, and mingling with A-listers at a raft of swanky showbiz parties.

Since returning to the UK, Cat and Patrick have been renovating their £5 million home in Hampstead, north London – frequented by a host of celebs including Harry Styles, James Corden and Ricky Gervais.

In addition to the stress of their refurbishment, Patrick has been jetting back and forth to Ireland since landing his new job as presenter of The Late Late Show in September.

And with Cat’s new demanding This Morning schedule – with early starts and late finishes Monday to Thursday – insiders say the reality of juggling family life, making time for her marriage and missing out on time with her boys, has been overwhelming.

The source says, “Cat’s feeling torn between wanting to put everything into this incredible new role and proving she deserved the coveted job, and the cost that’s going to come with and all the sacrifices she’s having to make.

“Holly sweetly reached out to congratulate Cat and offer some much-needed advice and while Cat was so grateful to Holly, it also made her even more anxious about the upheaval it was going to have on her life.

“Holly urged her not to get swept up in the magnitude of what she’d undertaken and told her to re-frame her mindset around it – ensuring she made time for herself and set a schedule for regular date nights and lots of family time on her long weekends and school holidays so she could get the right balance and have things to look forward to.”

Holly has reached out © (Photo by Joe Maher/WireImage)

After landing the gig, Patrick proudly paid tribute to his wife of 11 years with a sweet video montage on Instagram, where he told his 108k followers, that she was “made” to host This Morning.

The comedian – who first met Cat when they presented Fame Academy together in the early noughties – continued, “Strap yourself in @benshephardofficial and welcome to my world. We couldn’t be prouder of you @ catdeeley. Go get ’em Mama!”

And as the Birmingham-born star adjusts to her new career move, pals say she’s determined to heed Holly’s advice and take it in her stride

The source adds, “Cat’s doing her best to put all her anxiety and worries to the back of her mind and concentrate on this new adventure and all the things she has to look forward to both in her new job and with her family.

“She’s reminding herself that while change can be scary, it’s also exciting and as long as she embraces it and gives it everything she’s got, she can have the best of both worlds as a working mum with the support of her incredible husband and two amazing boys.”

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