This Morning's 20 Most Controversial Moments Ever

There have been many moments that have caused a stir on the ITV daytime show over the years.
This Morning has aired many controversial moments over the years
This Morning has aired many controversial moments over the years

Because it’s a show that usually only makes headlines because of a feel-good story or – let’s face it – because the hosts have totally lost it over a cheeky innuendo, it’s easy to forget that This Morning has actually been at the centre of controversy on a fair few occasions.

Since its debut more than 30 years ago, the ITV daytime staple has become known for its light touch, and over the years it’s cheered us up countless times while we’ve been off sick or *ahem* working from home.

But whether it’s awkward interviews, touchy debate subjects and even political scandals, This Morning has also made headlines for all the wrong reasons on more than one occasion.

Here are just some of the biggest controversies to ever hit the show...

1. Eamonn Holmes and his coronavirus theory


In April 2020, Eamonn Holmes was criticised by viewers and scientists when he appeared to defend a conspiracy theory which suggested that 5G was responsible for the coronavirus pandemic.

The following day, he read out a statement live on air, insisting: “It is not true that there is a connection between the present national health emergency and 5G and to suggest otherwise would be wrong and indeed it could be possibly dangerous.

“Every theory relating to such a connection has been proven to be false and we would like to emphasise that.”

2. Kerry Katona’s infamous interview

Kerry Katona had a new reality series to plug in 2008, and decided that This Morning would be the ideal place to plug it.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it played out.

After a turbulent few years in the public eye, the disastrous interview is perceived by many as a low point in Kerry’s media career, during which she was seen slurring her words and behaving erratically as she discussed her plastic surgery.

Presenters Phillip Schofield and Fern Britton were also criticised by some for their part in the interview too, with certain critics claiming they handled the situation in a heavy-handed and insensitive fashion.

3. Phillip Schofield and his “list”


Then-prime minister David Cameron was a guest on This Morning back in 2012, with Phillip taking the opportunity to show off a more serious side of his interviewing abilities.

Unfortunately, this backfired, and after presenting the former PM with a list of alleged high-profile paedophiles, Phillip turned the paper over leading to some of the names being picked up by the studio cameras.

Phillip issued a public apology the following day, and was later reprimanded by ITV.

“If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention”, he said at the time. “I was not accusing anyone of anything and it is essential that it is understood that I would never be part of any kind of witch hunt.”

4. Spin To Win goes full Black Mirror

This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby offered Spin To Win players the chance to win their energy bills covered for four months
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby offered Spin To Win players the chance to win their energy bills covered for four months
Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

The popular Spin To Win game attracted criticism in September 2022, when it offered viewers the chance to win their energy bills paid for amid the cost of living crisis.

The competition, which usually sees cash prizes or holidays up for grabs, was dubbed “dystopian” and like something out of Black Mirror after the format was changed.

The following day, the prize was extended to cover any household bills of the player’s choosing.

Phillip appeared to dismiss the controversy, remarking to nervous laughter from Holly: “Wonder how much of that they can complain about online?”

However, the format then quietly returned to normal the following day.

5. Eamonn Holmes brands Meghan Markle “uppity”

In recent times, Eamonn has made no secret of his dislike for Meghan Markle, including an infamous tirade on his Talk Radio show, and a segment on This Morning in which he branded her “uppity”.

The latter incident caused a stir after it was pointed out by one viewer – who made a complaint to Ofcom – that the word has racist origins, and was used in the US in the 19th Century to refer to Black people who “didn’t know their place”.

While reports initially stated that Eamonn had been reprimanded over this, ITV insisted this was not the case, but did say the matter had been a “point of learning” for the presenter.

He later denied this too, though, insisting: “I haven’t learnt anything from it. I’d keep it as a national conversation. I don’t have anything to say about it.”

6. Phillip and Holly interview Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn


In the lead-up to the 2019 General Election, This Morning featured interviews with the leaders of both the Labour and Conservative parties.

However, many viewers took issue with an apparent disparity between the interview styles, noting that while Phillip gave Jeremy Corbyn a “grilling”, the same didn’t seem to be the case for Boris Johnson, with whom the duo were seen taking a selfie at the end of the segment.

After he and Holly began trending on Twitter over the selfie, Phillip tackled the backlash head on, insisting: “Can I point out that if Mr Corbyn had asked for a selfie, we would have happily obliged.”

7. Phillip accuses Fern Britton of “memory loss” over Bafta invite

It had long been rumoured that Phillip and Fern’s time presenting This Morning didn’t have the happiest of endings, and it seemed there was still a bit of tension between the pair when she was interviewed in honour of the show’s Bafta win.

Throwing a bit of shade, Fern claimed: “Congratulations on Bafta. That was absolutely wonderful and brilliant, and I would have loved to have been there, but I didn’t get an invitation...”

“You are on stage,” Phillip interrupted. “So, how’s it going? Standing ovations every night...”

Cutting in, Fern quickly quipped: “Well, I wasn’t on [the night of the event].”

Afterwards, Phillip claimed on Twitter that Fern had in fact turned down an invitation to the Bafta celebration – infamously tweeting “#memoryloss” – and it later transpired that her management hadn’t actually passed along the invitation, turning it down on her behalf. Oh dear.

8. Holly and Phil face ‘queue-jumping’ accusations after filming report at Queen’s lying in state

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield inside Westminster Hall
Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield inside Westminster Hall

Holly and Phil faced accusations of “queue jumping” during their visit to report on the Queen lying in state following Her Majesty’s death in September 2022.

There was an online backlash after they appeared inside Westminster Hall without having taken part in the public queue.

Programme bosses later issued a statement insisting that the presenters had attended in order to film a segment due to air the following week, and were there to report on the event as members of the media.

The pair later addressed the controversy on air, with Holly saying in a pre-recorded voice-over during their report that she and Phillip had “respected” the rules in place, but “realise that it may have looked like something else” and therefore “totally understand the reaction”.

She explained: “Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given official permission to access the hall. It was for strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who haven’t 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 respects 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.”

Holly continued: “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.”

Eamonn Holmes – who co-hosted This Morning on Fridays with wife Ruth Langsford for 15 years until his departure in 2021 – also took a swipe at Holly and Phil over the matter as he hosted coverage of the Queen’s funeral for GB News.

9. Sam Delaney upsets pharmacists

Ken McKay/Shutterstock

Journalist Sam Delaney sparked more than 2,000 complaints to Ofcom in early 2020 when he made disparaging comments about pharmacists.

He caused a stir when he remarked that most people “rightly or wrongly — don’t have much respect for [pharmacists] anyway because we think that they’re pretend doctors”.

The president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society described Sam’s remarks as “extremely disappointing and concerning”, noting: “Pharmacists have a huge amount to offer the NHS and we work extensively across it.

“Pharmacists, including myself, were infuriated by the comments made denigrating a profession which, on a daily basis, saves people’s lives.”

ITV responded: “During this segment contributors often express their personal or light-hearted views, which do not always reflect the views of This Morning. Referring to this specific topic, we apologise if there was any offence caused.”

10. Holly and Phil clash with Noel Edmonds

While they usually do their best to stay neutral as they interview guests, there was no mistaking the tension when Holly and Phil sat down to chat to Noel Edmonds in 2016.

After discussing his own recovery from prostate cancer, the former Deal Or No Deal host suggested to the duo that negative thoughts and attitudes can cause serious illnesses.

Phillip suggested Noel’s comments could be perceived as “insensitive”, prompting the guest to blast the interview after going off air, a grudge he held for many more months later.

“Phil, trying to be Jeremy Paxman doesn’t suit you and at least JP gives his guest the chance to answer,” Noel said later. “If you are unlucky enough to be seriously ill, I promise I won’t be so callous and I will show you respect, sympathy and compassion.”

11. But he isn’t the only guest to get on the wrong side of Phillip

She’s known for her no-holds-barred attitude, and that’s exactly what Kim Woodburn gave Phillip Schofield when she appeared on This Morning to discuss her tumultuous stint in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

The two clashed after Kim called her former housemate, and Phil’s friend, Coleen Nolan “two-faced”, insisting: “She’s a horrible person. You won’t get phoniness out of me, darling, I’m 74 years of age… you’ve got a long time left to work on television, but if I never got a job on television again I couldn’t give a toss. So I’m not a diplomat like you.”

The interview ended with Kim taking issue with the questions she was being asked, and branding the host a “big phoney”.

12. Eamonn Holmes rubs David Cassidy up the wrong way

The late David Cassidy was left unimpressed with Eamonn Holmes back in 2015, when the host brought up his financial issues, asking: “Are you just here to rubbish me?”

However, he was similarly defensive when Ruth Langsford questioned whether his fans were helping him through his difficulties, accusing the pair of “interrupting” him.

Later in the show, Eamonn admitted that had he not had his wife at his side, he’d have “told [David] where to go”.

13. “Bondage For Beginners” segment raises eyebrows

At the height of Fifty Shades-mania, This Morning decided to air a segment exploring the film’s BDSM themes, titled “Bondage For Beginners”.

The decision to air a whole feature centred around various sex toys in the middle of the morning wasn’t one that sat well with everyone, though, with a total of 120 complaints being made to Ofcom.

Eventually, the media regulator cleared This Morning, with Phillip Schofield putting the whole thing down to “middle England outrage”.

14. Alison Hammond misgenders Caitlyn Jenner


She’s a This Morning favourite, so many viewers were left disappointed when Alison Hammond accidentally used male pronouns to refer to Caitlyn Jenner during her time in the I’m A Celebrity jungle.

“So [Ant and Dec] are just loving Caitlyn at the moment,” Alison said. “He keeps coming out with these Geordie sayings, so he’s officially [a Geordie]…”

At that moment, Ruth interrupted, pointedly saying: “She is very funny.”

Alison then agreed: “She’s great, she’s fascinating.”

The moment was never addressed by Alison, and a rep for This Morning declined to comment at the time.

15. The “should boys cry?” debate irks viewers


After Ant Middleton made the worrying admission he encourages his son to take a “stiff upper lip” approach when it comes to displaying emotions in 2019, This Morning turned the topic into one of their debates, titled simply: “Should boys cry?”

The debate featured building firm owner Glenn Slater and lifestyle blogger Vicki Psarias, with the former saying he felt the “tough love” he received from his own father had made him a “stronger person”.

However, the show’s decision to frame the topic as a debate came under fire from those watching at home, with many pointing out the high rate of suicide among young men as reason alone to not present men bottling up their emotions as a valid argument.

16. But the unfortunate debate topics don’t stop there


This Morning had already taken heat for a different debate two years earlier, in the wake of the allegations that had recently been levelled against the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Nick Ferrari and Debbie Arnold were both featured in the debate, titled “Have Sexual Harassment Allegations Gone Too Far?” (yes, really).

During the discussion, Phillip said: “The thing is, for all the good that #MeToo has done, it has been widely used to name, with no proof, with no concrete evidence… and then someone’s name is attached to the #MeToo.”

When Debbie – who had recently spoken about her own experiences of sexual harassment – then commented that “sometimes you have to do that”, at which point Phillip interrupted, saying: “But why do you have to do that? Why don’t you just go to the police? Why are you using Twitter to name someone?”

The debate was branded “infuriating”, “disgusting” and “disgraceful” by viewers on Twitter.

17. Rylan Clark apologises after consent comments


While guest presenting This Morning in 2016, Rylan Clark led a debate about consent, and whether or not it was something that male university students should be taught about.

During the segment, Rylan suggested there should also be “compulsory alcohol classes” if consent was to be taught to young men, adding: “This is very much a two-way street.”

He later claimed his comments had been “taken out of context”, but apologised to those he’d offended.

“I believe my comments have majorly been taken out of context and if anyone was offended by what I said I do apologise but in no way [do] I condone any sexual abuse,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I’m mortified that a small handful of you got that impression. Apologies if anyone was offended. I was referring to an earlier case study we didn’t actually touch on and have been very misinterpreted.”

18. Eamonn Holmes suggests to a sex addict that she should “charge for it”

Ken McKay/Shutterstock

Yes, this actually happened.

In 2012, Eamonn joined Holly Willoughby on the couch to interview Crystal Warren, a woman who said she was a sex addict.

After she detailed her addiction, Eamonn offered: “If you need this five or six times a day, have you never thought about making a business of it? Charging for it?”

Crystal then protested, to which he responded: “If you’re not particularly selective, what I’m saying is, why wouldn’t it be a business to you?”

An ITV rep said at the time: “Eamonn’s question was in the context of a wider balanced and frank interview and we have had no complaints.”

19. Katie Hopkins

This Morning has frequently been named as one of the causes of Katie Hopkins’ ascent to notoriety, as around 2013 and 2014, they frequently featured her as a commentator during controversial debates.

Her most infamous appearance came during a discussion about names, in which she said she wouldn’t allow her children to play with certain classmates, if she didn’t approve of what they were called, rattling even the usually-stoic Holly.

Specifically naming “geographical” names as a bugbear of hers, Phil then pointed out that Katie’s own daughter is named… India.

20. Amanda Holden’s feud with Phillip Schofield

The feud between Amanda Holden and Phillip Schofield is a long and complicated one, but in a nutshell...

When Holly went on maternity leave in 2014, Amanda was brought in to replace her, and she returned multiple times to guest present in the years that followed (although admittedly not always with Phil).

In 2018, Holly had to miss two months of the daytime show while she filmed I’m A Celebrity in Australia, and it looked like the Britain’s Got Talent judge was a frontrunner for the job.

The Sun has claimed that Amanda had indeed been lined up to cover for Holly but ITV had withdrawn the offer at the last minute, instead giving it to Rochelle Humes, and that Phil had influenced the decision.

However, ITV was quick to deny Phillip had been instrumental in Rochelle’s hiring, saying in a statement: “Presenter line-ups on This Morning change regularly. Final decisions are made by producers, not presenters.

“Phillip is a much-loved broadcaster and part of the ITV family. He’s a consummate professional and held in high regard at ITV.

“Amanda is also held in high regard as a judge on one of our biggest shows,” they added.

Since then, Amanda has taken multiple shots at Phillip in the press, although he’s remained fairly tight-lipped about the whole thing.

This Morning airs every weekday from 10am on ITV.


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