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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Holly Willoughby 'isn't in a good place', according to close pal and Celebrity Juice co-star Leigh Francis as he reveals he texts the presenter often amid frightening kidnap plot


Holly Willoughby ‘isn’t in a good place’ in the wake of being targeted in an alleged kidnap plot, according to her pal Leigh Francis.

Leigh – who is best known for his alter ego Keith Lemon – became close friends with Holly during her 12-year stint on Celebrity Juice

The comedian said the TV presenter has been going through a ‘tough time’, according to the Sunday People. 

He explained: ‘I don’t think she’s in a good place. She’s having a tough time.’

Speaking at the We Free Women launch, Leigh, 55, added that he texts the former This Morning presenter often in an attempt to lift her spirits.

Close friends: Leigh Francis has revealed Holly Willoughby still ‘isn’t in a good place’ following the frightening kidnap plot (pictured together in 2017)

Frightening: Holly left This Morning in October for 'the sake of her family' after discovering she was the target of a kidnap plot

Frightening: Holly left This Morning in October for ‘the sake of her family’ after discovering she was the target of a kidnap plot

He said: ‘I just text her? I don’t ask how she is, but I send her some messages to cheer her up. 

‘I just go, “Hope you’re OK”, and tell her about things I’ve bought. Like, “I’ve just wasted my money on some Spider-Man Crocs, Holly? do you like them?”

He added that he ‘doesn’t know’ if she will return to host Dancing On Ice in January – after she was still considered the bookies’ favourite to host the skating show

Holly left Celebrity Juice in 2020, leaving Leigh as the only original member of the line-up after Fearne Cotton quit in 2018.  

After her departure, Keith admitted he too nearly left the show – a testament to their close bond. 

He told The Sun at the time: ‘I was really sad and realised I was going to miss her. I’m gutted, she was like my TV sister.

‘She’s welcome back any time. I’ll properly miss her.’

And they showed their friendship was still as strong as ever in April – as Holly dressed up as Barbie for his 50th birthday party.  

Line-up: Holly (left) and Leigh (second left) became close pals during her 12-year stint on Celebrity Juice

Line-up: Holly (left) and Leigh (second left) became close pals during her 12-year stint on Celebrity Juice

However, in September, he told MailOnline he hadn’t seen his pal since his birthday party

He said: ‘The last time I saw Holly was on my birthday. I haven’t seen her since all the telly drama.

‘April was the last time I saw her in real life. Throughout all the telly drama, I just text people and go, ‘Are you ok?’.’

He said he reached out to both Holly and Phillip when the This Morning hosting drama began to unfold – amid rumours of a feud between the two. 

This Morning has had its fair share of guest presenters since Holly departed the show in October. 

They have found themselves auditioning live on air, with the likes of Cat Deeley and Rylan Clark taking to the morning show – and even Sarah Ferguson set to appear on the famous sofas

Mother-of-three Holly, who originally joined the This Morning team in 2009, left the show last month ‘for the sake of her family’ after discovering she was the target of an alleged kidnap and murder plot. 

It came five months after Phillip Schofield’s departure following his affair with a young male showrunner was made public, followed by claims of an increasingly strained relationship with his co-host.

Family: Holly lives at her London home with her husband Daniel Baldwin, 49, (pictured in 2016) and their three children - Harry, 14, Belle, 12 and Chester, eight

Family: Holly lives at her London home with her husband Daniel Baldwin, 49, (pictured in 2016) and their three children – Harry, 14, Belle, 12 and Chester, eight

Holly was pulled from presenting the ITV show in October just moments before going on air after police informed bosses about the alleged plot.

Just hours previously, she shared a candid post on her Wylde Moon blog about coping with anxiety. 

The post said: ‘If you or someone you love suffers with anxiety, you know how difficult it can be to cope with. You are not alone,’ followed by a link to tips and advice from Louise Chunn, founder of WellDoing.org. 

Holly lives at her London home with her husband Daniel Baldwin, 49, and their three children – Harry, 14, Belle, 12 and Chester, eight. 

She remained at her home under police guard after news of the plot emerged. 

The criminal proceedings are said to have left Holly – once the golden girl of British television – in limbo

‘Holly’s life could not be more different to how it was a year ago and it has taken some adjustment,’ said one friend.

‘There was a time when she was dashing around as a busy mum of three, but now she has got much more time to spend with her family and having some time away from the cameras. 

Revelation: Holly shared a candid post about coping with anxiety just hours before claims emerged of a plot to kidnap her

Revelation: Holly shared a candid post about coping with anxiety just hours before claims emerged of a plot to kidnap her

‘She is much more of a homebody at the moment and who knows when that will change?’

It is well-deserved downtime for Holly, who some years ago was so busy that she pulled out of heading up a lifestyle brand with her friend and Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones so she could spend the time with her family.

But now she faces making one of the biggest decisions of her working life: if and when to return to television after she quit the This Morning sofa after 14 years last month.

She is due to return to host ITV’s Sunday night show, Dancing on Ice in January, which she previously hosted alongside her former friend Phillip.

It is her only commitment following her exit from This Morning and despite the BBC being desperate to poach her from ITV, there are no plans in the pipeline.

Sources at ITV say they are giving her ‘space and time’ to decide what she wants to do, while friends suggest that it might be some time before she makes a comeback.



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