Holly Willoughby reaches out to Sian Welby – and Phillip Schofield

As Holly Willoughby returns to our screens, pals say she is supporting her potential This Morning successor, Sian Welby

Holly Willoughby looks at Sian Welby and Phillip Schofield in a comped image

by Closer staff |
Updated on

Three months since dramatically quitting This Morning after 14 years, Holly Willoughby returned to our screens last month with a new series of Dancing On Ice – and fans were delighted with her dazzling comeback.

Meanwhile the new drama over who will replace her on This Morning gathered steam as reports emerged that Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard could be set to land the coveted jobs. But This Morning’s new “It Girl” Sian Welby is still in the running too after becoming a huge hit with viewers since stepping in to host the morning show alongside Dermot O’Leary for the last month.

Sian, 37 – who previously had stints presenting the showbiz section of This Morning – is now in the running to replace Holly, who quit in October after an alleged kidnap plot came to light, with the presenter stating that she simply had to put her family first.

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The presenter-turned-wellness guru then spent three months holed-up at her London home with her TV producer husband, Dan Baldwin, sons Harry, 13, and Chester, eight, and 11-year-old daughter, Belle.

And while Sian has been dubbed as ITV’s “next golden girl”, she revealed last week that behind the scenes, she’s been stalked by a “weirdo” for the past decade.

During her appearance on the Headstrong podcast, Sian said, “I’ve had somebody for the past 10 years who has wanted to gunge me [a sexual fetish where pleasure comes from being covered in messy or wet substances].

“You do get the weirdos. That is always a scary thing I’m worried about. It is a strange job, the more successful you get in your job, the more you lose your normal life.”

And now a source tells Closer that Sian – who is engaged to radio producer Jake Beckett – is feeling anxious over the pitfalls of having such a high level of fame.

The insider says, “Sian is understandably over the moon but has anxiety over what this might mean. She’s had unwanted contact from people in the past and knows that presenting on This Morning brings a whole new level of attention.

“She’s loving doing This Morning so far, but she’s seen how a higher level of fame can affect personal lives too and she’s apprehensive.”

However, the source says that Holly has been happy to offer advice and support to her successor in any way she can.

The insider says, “Sian and Holly have been in touch, with Holly praising Sian for doing such an incredible job filling her shoes and sharing how impressed she’d been watching her thrive in the role over the last few weeks, which filled Sian with some much-needed confidence.

“She told Sian to call or text her if she ever needed any advice – even suggesting they should grab dinner together, which made Sian really happy.

“Building a relationship with the person she’s admired the most, and aspires to be in her career, is something Sian’s always hoped for, so she’s incredibly grateful. She’s hoping they can support one another both on and off screen going forward.”

Meanwhile, Holly’s relationship with her ex BFF and This Morning co-star Phillip Schofield could be set to heal this year – almost nine months after Holly revealed she had been left “shaken, troubled, let down” after being kept in the dark over Phillip’s affair with a much younger colleague.

After suffering the most turbulent time of his life last year following his dramatic exit, last week Phil, 61, stepped out looking happy and healthy while running errands.

The father-of-two has been keeping a low profile since revelations of his “unwise but not illegal” relationship came to light, prompting him to quit ITV’s flagship show and break ties with his long term co-host and best pal Holly, who later accused him of lying to her about the nature of his relationship with the 20-year-old male.

However, in recent weeks, Phil – who revealed he felt suicidal after the scandal broke in May – has appeared in better spirits, and was also seen smiling while celebrating daughter Ruby’s birthday last week surrounded by his estranged wife Steph, family and friends.

Now pals say his newfound lease of life has been sparked by a reconciliation with Holly.

Relations between the two had soured in the months before he left the sofa, notably following the “Queue-gate” scandal when the pair were accused of jumping the queue for the late Queen’s lying-in-state.

A source tells Closer, “Phil’s in a much better place now than he was – stepping back from everything. Living a quieter life, working on himself and being surrounded by his loved ones has done wonders.

“On top of that, having Holly back in his life recently has helped him start getting back to his old self. It’s made him feel positive about the future. While they’re by no means best mates again, they are getting on and it’s a huge relief for him.”

And after making her own big comeback last month on Dancing On Ice, pals say Holly is also in a great place at the moment.

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The source says, “Holly’s incredibly thankful for the support she’s received with her TV comeback, and feels confident she made the right decision. She’s doing what she loves again, and is so grateful that she was able to come back from the dark place she was in.

“Her family, friends and [new DOI co-host] Stephen Mulhern have been amazing, and it was nice to have well wishes from Phil. It’s not a case of all is forgiven and forgotten, but it’s been great for her to go into 2024 with no bad blood or negative energy. She’s looking to the future now.”

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