Former This Morning presenter Richard Madeley has said Holly Willoughby has done “a very brave, wise and courageous thing” by stepping down from the flagship daytime show.
The TV star told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that Willoughby has done “exactly the right thing” by leaving the programme.
The news of her departure comes shortly after a 36-year-old man was remanded in custody last week charged over an alleged plot to kidnap and murder the presenter.
It follows a turbulent period at the show, after Willoughby’s former co-host Phillip Schofield left in May after he admitted to a relationship with a younger male colleague.
Madeley, who launched This Morning with wife Judy Finnigan in 1988 and presented it for 13 years, said: “I think, and Judy agrees with me,… Holly has done a very brave and wise and courageous thing.
“We know that Holly genuinely puts family first, she puts her family first and her career second. And that really is the order.
“I think given the year that she’s had, all the things that she’s had to put up with, and then this terrible thing that happened last week, given that she’s done the show for 14 years, which is a year longer than Judy and I did it when we left, I think it’s given her a chance to kind of step back and take stock and she’s put her family first.
“She’s going to focus on them for a while. She’ll come back, not to This Morning, but she’ll come back to do something else.
“But I think she’s done exactly the right thing for her own mental health department.”
Announcing her departure from This Morning in a social media post on Tuesday afternoon, Willoughby, 42, said it was an “honour to just be part of its story”, but that she feels “I have to make this decision for me and my family”.
She said it was “a difficult goodbye”, but quoted Madeley and Finnigan when she added: “Richard and Judy said: ‘We only look after this show, it will always belong to the viewers.’
Speaking on GMB, Madeley said: “When we left, and it was a bit of a shock, it was a bit undercover and subterfuge, we appeared on Channel 4, a lot of people said: ‘Well, that’s the end of This Morning, because This Morning is Richard and Judy’, which is obviously very flattering, but we knew it wasn’t true.
“Because the show isn’t about the faces, the presenters, it’s about the format.
“It’s a two-and-a-half-hour, three-hour formatted show, and obviously the presenters have to know what they’re doing and they have to get on and they have to do a professional job, but it’s the content, the format, that matters, and it will carry on.”
Willoughby pulled out of hosting This Morning on Thursday last week and her London home was reportedly being guarded by police after a man was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of conspiracy to kidnap.
On Friday, shopping centre security officer Gavin Plumb was charged with soliciting a man named David Nelson to commit murder, and incitement to commit kidnap between October 2 and 5 in Harlow, Essex.
Plumb is alleged to have conspired online with another man and created a “detailed plan” to carry out the offences.