This Morning host Holly Willoughby is said to have been left shocked by Phillip Schofield's unexpected statement, in which he had his say on rumours of their friendship fall-out.
TV presenter Phil, 61, last night claimed it had been a difficult "few weeks" for the on-screen duo, with his comment on their alleged estrangement understood to have been a bid to mend his broken friendship and working relationship with Holly, 42.
"The last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us," the 61 year old told The Sun. "As I have said before, Holly is my rock."
He continued: "We’re the best of friends – as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone. Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her."
Meanwhile mum-of-three Holly is understood to have been left blindsided by Phillip's statement.
A source close to the much-loved presenting powerhouse has told the Daily Mail that Holly had no idea Phillip was going to make a statement, adding that the first she saw of it was when it was published online.
OK! has contacted Holly's representative for comment.
Phillip's shock statement came just hours after reports emerged which claimed the former pals are "barely speaking" off-camera at the moment and the pair have "become more distant".
An insider was quoted as saying: "Holly adores This Morning and for the first time in 14 years she has made it clear that should Phil ever leave she would want to stay.
"They are separate entities. It has become an open secret that things aren't as rosy as they once were."
The ITV double-act – who have presented This Morning together since 2009 – became "great friends" after first having met as hosts of Dancing On Ice on the same channel.
The source added that their rift was "clear" to people working with the duo on This Morning, adding: "Professionally you would have no idea there was anything going on because on camera they are acting exactly the same, but behind the scenes their relationship has cooled."
Another source also told the publication that the pair's banter and "camaraderie" off-camera was not the same as it used to be, and had "dwindled" in the last 12 months.
Rumours of distance between the duo came after they initially came under fire from the public back in September last year when they were accused of skipping the queue to see the Queen lying-in-state.
Phillip also took a three-week break from the show in March as his brother Tim was convicted of child sex offences, something which the Daily Mail claims left Holly "deeply upset" after she heard about the case through a third party.
In his absence, she was paired with Alison Hammond – who also regularly hosts the much loved 10am show alongside her on-screen other-half Dermot O'Leary.
ITV bosses were later said to be overjoyed by the chemistry between Holly and Alison, and are now reportedly looking for further opportunities to pair them up again.
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