The chief executive of ITV has said Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby have been “misrepresented” over claims they skipped the queue for the Queen’s lying in state.
Dame Carolyn McCall said the This Morning co-presenters were safe in their jobs, despite an online petition to have them fired, and praised their work for the broadcaster.
The pair have been targeted on social media over claims they jumped the public line to pay their respects in Westminster Hall earlier this month.
Programme bosses have stressed the hosting duo attended as members of the media to film a segment for the following Tuesday’s show.
Speaking at the RTS London Convention, Dame Carolyn was asked what they did wrong.
She replied: “Honestly, nothing. Honestly. They did have accreditation. Lots of people saying they didn’t. They were sent by This Morning to do a piece for September 20, which ran.
“They were to interview people inside and outside. They didn’t displace anyone in the queue. And they’ve been very misrepresented, actually.
“And that’s why we made a statement. Unusually, we made a statement to say all of those things. But it does show you how things spread and how misinformation just spreads. And it is really horrible for them.”
Dame Carolyn dismissed the idea they had been “cancelled” before adding: “I think they’re highly relevant and still very topical, and I think the majority of their viewers love watching them.
“But there is a very shrill kind of voice against and it will hurt them.”
Dame Carolyn said she had complained to Domino’s Pizza, who had tweeted a satirical post about the pair skipping a queue to order one of their pizzas.
She said: “We just said to them, ‘What are you doing?’ because we work with Domino’s and they said, ‘We think it is really funny, don’t you?’
“They just thought that was funny. They didn’t think of the impact that would have on how people would pick it up and start meme-ing it.
“I think that’s what happens with these things which are … They did not do anything wrong.
“They were with loads of other broadcasters, many of whom you know, and they were with lots of press journalists.”
Confirming the duo are secure in the jobs at This Morning, Dame Carolyn added that she had texted both and that they were not “feeling great”.
She added: “It’s hard. You imagine yourself in the eye of the storm like this, where you’re trying to say you’ve done nothing wrong and all the noise around you is saying that you have. It’s difficult to handle.”
The session also saw Dame Carolyn confirm ITV have not hired Laura Whitmore’s replacement as Love Island host.
Asked if they had found their host for the reboot of Big Brother, she added only: “Not announced yet.”