Holly Willoughby has said she would never have been offered the job of presenting This Morning if Phillip Schofield had not “championed” her to the show’s producers.
Willoughby, 37, who co-hosts the flagship ITV daytime programme with Schofield, said there was “no way” she would have been hired for the show if Schofield had not expressed his support.
Speaking at Bafta headquarters in London’s Piccadilly where This Morning was awarded the Bafta Special Award, Willoughby said her co-host’s support had been vital.
She said: “I know for a fact that here is no way I would be sitting here now if he hadn’t championed me in the first place. He’s always the first person who helps me.
“He very much believed in me from day one because when I got the job in the first place he was very much forward in saying he wanted to do the show with me.
“You know, I had done a bit of Dancing On Ice but this was my first big footstep into the world of telly. You were a journalist and I definitely wasn’t. He’s had to teach me and he’s never got bored. I am very lucky in that way.”
Willoughby joined the programme nine years ago while Schofield, 56, has been a presenter since 2002.
At the event, hosted by Alan Carr, the show was recognised for its approach to daytime television production, and for launching the careers of many people working in factual entertainment.
The evening featured archive clips of This Morning, video interviews and the presentation of the Special Award.
Schofield said This Morning had saved “literally thousands and thousands of lives” since it was first broadcast 30 years ago.
He said the ITV programme’s medical campaigns – which raise awareness of issues like testicular and breast cancer – have helped the public to notice early signs of potentially deadly conditions.
He said he had heard “over and over” how the show had helped viewers identify symptoms early.
Schofield said: “It’s made a big difference, I’ve got to say. It is extraordinary how many people have said that if it wasn’t for This Morning they would have died. They were the people that sat there and watched the testicular examinations, the breast examinations, or moles, or whatever it was we happened to do.
“They’ve said that after watching This Morning they’ve checked themselves, found something and then the next day gone to the doctor. And they have told us, ‘Thank god I watch your show’.
“And it happens over and over and over again. Dr Chris and the rest of our team have, over the years, saved literally thousands and thousands of lives. I am talking about being honest about things.”
This Morning was first broadcast on October 3 1988 from ITV’s Granada Studios, based in Liverpool’s Albert Docks.
It was hosted by husband and wife presenting duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, who joined Schofield and Willoughby on stage during the Bafta evening.