Holly Willoughby’s shock return to This Morning

As viewing figures plummet on ITV’s flagship show, insiders say former TV queen Holly Willoughby is considering a comeback

Holly Willoughby This Morning 2023

by Closer staff |
Published on

Her crown as TV’s golden girl continued to slip last week as it was revealed Holly Willoughby’s media company assets have been reduced by nearly £1 million since her shock exit from This Morning.

And in the wake of news that the show is “in crisis” – with viewing figures plummeting by half since Cat Deeley, 47, and Ben Shephard, 49, took over in March – insiders say the 43-year-old mum-of-three is quietly considering a return to the show that turned her into a household name.

Following her 14-year reign as “Queen of Daytime TV,” Holly quit the sofa in October, around five months after her long-standing partner Phillip Schofield left the show amid scandal. Our source says, “Holly never wanted to leave This Morning and it was a decision she made during a tough time of her life, where her personal affairs had to take priority – not because she was ready to move on.

Holly Willoughby and a cute puppy
Holly and a furry friend on This Morning last year ©Shuuterstock

“She always vowed never to make any life-altering decisions without a level head but, understandably, this was a situation she was almost forced into because of the circumstances. At the time, she felt she had no other choice.”

Holly – who shares Harry, 14, Belle, 12, and Chester, eight, with her TV producer husband, Dan Baldwin – proved her commitment to the show when she defiantly returned to the sofa following Phillip’s shock departure in May.

Following her “year from hell” the presenter-turned-wellness guru put on a brave face after news emerged about Phil’s “unwise, but not illegal” extra-marital affair with a younger male colleague.

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield
Holly and Phil in happier times ©Getty

The source says, “Despite it being the worst time in Holly’s career, This Morning meant so much to her that she stuck with it – determined to fight through and repair her tarnished reputation.

“Knowing its future could now be on the line, with audience figures dwindling, has made her reconsider her decision to bolt and while she’s not rushing into anything, she’s quietly weighing up her options.”

Since leaving the flagship ITV show, Holly has taken a step back from the spotlight, only returning to TV for Dancing On Ice in January, which she hosted alongside Stephen Mulhern instead of former
co-host Phil.

In February, her BBC programme, Freeze The Fear, was cancelled due to low viewing figures and she took time out from her lucrative deal with M&S.

Freeze the fear Holly Willoughby
Freeze the fear was cancelled © BBC/Hungry Bear Media/Pete Dadds

And despite bagging a deal with Netflix – co-hosting new reality competition series Bear Hunt with Bear Grylls – there is little else on the horizon for TV’s once most in-demand star.

Last week, it was revealed that her female-run management company, Roxy Media Ltd, has lost £1.1 million since the previous year when Holly was still on her £730k-a-year This Morning salary.

The source says, “While Holly’s business losses aren’t the motivation behind her change of heart, she misses that financial security of having such a well paid, constant job, so it’s definitely a factor in her decision-making process.”

Ben and Cat This Morning
Current This Morning hosts Ben and Cat ©ITV

Meanwhile, Cat continued to put on a brave face last week after it was revealed over half a million viewers have switched off since she and Ben took over.

While viewers continued to slam the duo as “boring” and “the worst hosts”, ITV insiders revealed there was a “question mark” lingering over the future of the show.

Earlier this year, insiders told Closer how Holly had been supporting and coaching Cat – who shares sons Milo, eight, and five-year-old James with comedian Patrick Kielty, 53 – in the run-up to her taking over the reins.

closer magazine

And while Holly has told pals she would only consider a potential return if Cat walked, she’s concerned about being accused of betraying her.

The source says, “Holly really likes Cat and while they’re not close friends, they have a mutual respect for one another.

“The last thing she’d want is to be seen as ‘stealing’ Cat’s job or be painted out to be betraying her in any way if she did go back – especially when her image has already been so tainted over the last couple of years.

“Holly is hoping Cat can turn things around and insists it takes a while for viewers to warm up to a new host. But if things don’t work out, she would definitely consider going back to help salvage the show she’s known and loved for the majority of her career.”

Now watch: what happens backstage at This Morning? The cast spill some serious tea

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