TV insiders have raised “serious concerns” about the wellbeing of This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield as the row over “queue jumping” continues to escalate.
The pair recently came under fire with accusations of queue-jumping at the late Queen’s lying-in-state, as they were accused of using their celebrity clout to skip the lines which had seen many mourners queuing for hours.
Both ITV and the duo have defend their actions while explaining that they attended the lying-in-state as working members of the media, but it hasn’t stopped the pair from being cruelly and repeatedly trolled, with many viewers even calling for the pair to be sacked.
The weight of the trolling also appears to be taking its toll on screen, with one viewer even describing Holly as looking “like she's been crying all night” after returning to front the show this week.
Later on Wednesday night, a petition calling for the presenting team to be sacked topped 50,000 signatures, leading ITV bosses to once again shoulder crisis talks as they stand behind two of their biggest stars.
A TV source told The Mirror : "The abuse has been nothing short of disgusting, not least as they have done nothing wrong and were fully entitled to media accreditation so they could inform their viewers.
"There is huge, real and serious concerns over their wellbeing and ITV are fully supporting them behind the scenes in the face of such relentless trolling. The channel backs them 110 per cent.”
Reassured by the support both Holly and Phil have received from the channel, sources close to the pair have dismissed rumours that Holly may even quit over the row.
The source added: "She adores her job and would never quit. The whole experience has been totally brutal but one thing has remained constant, and that’s been ITV’s unwavering support.”
On Tuesday’s episode of This Morning, Phil and Holly publicly addressed the allegations in a small segment, while insisting they would “never jump a queue” after they appeared inside Westminster Hall last Friday without having joined the public queue.
During a special episode reflecting on the days since the Queen's sad death on September 8, Holly said in a voiceover: "Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists we were given official permission to access the hall.
"It was strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who have not been able to visit Westminster in person.
"The rules were that we would be quickly escorted around the edges to a platform at the back. In contrast, those paying respect walked along a carpeted area beside the coffin and were given time to pause.
"None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one filed past the Queen. We of course respected those rules.
"However, we realise that it may have looked like something else, and therefore totally understand the reaction. Please know that we would never jump a queue.”
This Morning themselves also publicly addressed the backlash as they stood by their presenters in an Instagram statement on Saturday, writing: "We asked Phillip and Holly to be part of a film for this Tuesday's programme.
"They did not jump the queue, have VIP access or file past the Queen lying in state – but instead were there in a professional capacity as part of the world’s media to report on the event."
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