Appearing on GMB on Thursday, for the first time since Piers’ sudden exit, Kate said: “The thing about Piers [is], he is very passionate and does fly kites and always comes from a place of authenticity, he always believes in what he says and he’s left.
“He’s decided to quit and, as he says, fall on the sword of free speech, but as you rightly say I’ve known him a long time before he started working on this programme and our friendship will go on, our personal friendship.”
She continued: “He’s been very supportive of me personally. It’s a different show, isn’t it? But the show goes on.”
Ben Shephard also insisted the topic of mental health was taken seriously on Good Morning Britain.
He said: “It’s crucial that we all appreciate and understand that right now particularly in the middle of a pandemic and what we’ve seen our frontline nurses and doctors going through, and the concern about the mental health impact of that…
“The debate and concern about mental health is something that we take very seriously and is hugely important to all of us.”
Addressing her former co-host’s absence from Wednesday’s GMB, Susanna Reid told viewers: “Piers and I have disagreed on many things, and that dynamic was one of the things that viewers loved about the programme.
“He is without a doubt an outspoken, challenging, opinionated, disruptive broadcaster. He has many critics and he has many fans.
“You all know that I disagreed with him about Meghan’s interview. He himself clarified his comments about her mental health on the show yesterday. There are many voices on GMB and everyone has their say.”
She concluded: “It is certainly going to be very different, but shows go on, and on we go.”
Ranvir Singh, who replaced Piers on Wednesday’s show, replied: “Well said.”
Describing Piers as a “big character”, Ranvir also said “many viewers will be absolutely gutted” about him leaving.
Prior to Piers’ exit, it was revealed more than 41,000 people had complained to TV watchdog Ofcom over his remarks, with the regulator now investigating GMB under its harm and offence rules.
It was reported Meghan Markle had lodged a formal complaint with ITV, over concerns about the effect his words could have on others who are struggling with their mental health.
Piers was also criticised by mental health charity Mind, who work with ITV on its Britain Get Talking initiative.
However, after leaving GMB, Piers doubled down on his remarks in a tweet, writing: “I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t. If you did, OK.
“Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on. Thanks for all the love, and hate. I’m off to spend more time with my opinions.”
He later insisted his exit from GMB was “amicable” and that he and ITV bosses “agreed to disagree”.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.