Ben Shephard swooped in to replace Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain for the first Monday show since the divisive host sensationally quit in a smash-hit final episode.
Mr Shephard traditionally co-hosts the show on Thursdays and Fridays, but he stepped in today to present alongside Susanna Reid.
The ITV morning show has been left with a hole in its panel after Mr Morgan – who transformed GMB from a ratings flop – stormed off camera during a heated on-air row over his criticism of Meghan Markle last Tuesday.
Mr Morgan presented the show from Monday to Wednesday, with Ranvir Singh covering his Wednesday slot last week.
His divisive final episode was a ratings hit, beating BBC Breakfast viewing figures for the first time ever, prompting Mr Morgan to thank the ‘hard work and dedication’ of the production team.
But the ratings rapidly flopped again following Mr Morgan’s departure, with Breakfast winning out over GMB on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Ben Shephard swooped in to replace Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain for the first Monday show since the divisive host sensationally quit in a smash-hit final episode
The ITV morning show has been left with a hole in its panel after Mr Morgan (pictured last week) – who transformed GMB from a ratings flop – stormed off camera during a heated on-air row over his criticism of Meghan Markle last Tuesday
Desperate viewers are now calling for ITV to reinstate Mr Morgan, with online demanding his return topping 250,000 signatures.
Britons last week voted Tipping Point presenter Mr Shephard, 46, the best replacement for Mr Morgan – with Bradley Walsh, Jeremy Clarkson and Alex Beresford filling the following three slots.
It was during an on-air row with Mr Beresford that Mr Morgan stormed off last week.
Mr Morgan had declared the Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah about the Royal Family ‘contemptible’ and said: ‘I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth’ in the show one day prior.
TV presenter Ben Shephard voted best replacement
Ben Shephard has pipped Bradley Walsh and Jeremy Clarkson as the best replacement for Piers Morgan, according to a survey of 1,864 adults in the UK.
WHO BRITONS WANT TO REPLACE PIERS: THE TOP 10
1. Ben Shephard
2. Bradley Walsh
3. Jeremy Clarkson
4. Alex Beresford
5. Adrian Chiles
6. Alan Carr
7. Eamon Holmes
8. Alison Hammond
9. Amanda Holden
10. Dermot O’Leary
Mr Beresford accused him of unfairly ‘trashing’ Meghan, and branded him ‘diabolical’.
When Mr Morgan walked off screen, with Mr Beresford adding: ‘I’m sorry but Piers just spouts off on a regular basis and we have to sit there and listen’.
Mr Morgan – who refused to apologise – later announced his resignation and tweeted his thanks to the GMB team, praising them for their ‘hard work and dedication’ that led to them beating their main breakfast TV rival.
At its peak, Tuesday’s episode of Good Morning Britain had 2.2 million viewers tuned in to watch Mr Morgan and co-host Susanna Reid. Its viewership averaged out at 1.29 million.
But on Wednesday, GMB’s views plunged again with its peal number of viewers standing at 1.8 million – and an average of 1.2 million.
Breakfast, on the other hand, had 2.3 million viewers at its peak and an average of 1.4 million.
A similar trend happened on Thursday – when GMB had an average of 932,000 viewers and Breakfast had 1.6 million – and Friday – when the averages stood at 856,100 for GMB and 1.47 million for Breakfast.
Shares in ITV also plunged in the wake of his resignation with almost £200million wiped off the company’s value overnight and share prices dropping by 3.8 per cent
Meanwhile, signatures on five petitions calling for Piers to be reinstated on Good Morning Britain have now reached more than 250,000.
Morgan ruled out a return to Good Morning Britain but called the petitions a ‘pleasant surprise’.
One titled ‘BRING BACK Piers Morgan!’ had 48,981 signatures this morning.
It accused ITV of treating him ‘appallingly’, claiming: ‘They have thrown him under the bus and allowed him to be bullied by an colleague on air. Piers has turned the show into the most talked about show on ITV.
‘He was the only person who spoke on behalf of viewers during the pandemic and now he’s been bullied by the snowflakes all for speaking the truth.
‘BRING PIERS BACK ITV.’
Another petition titled ‘Save Piers Morgan from being sacked from GMB’ had a similar 47,877.
A third called ‘Keep Piers Morgan on GMB for his common sense approach to life’ had a massive 150,682. Two other petitions’ total signatures stood at 2,626 and 1,470.
Derbyshire – who appeared on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity last year – currently presents the news for the BBC after her award-winning current affairs programme was axed last March.
A source told the Sun: ‘ITV producers have been looking for the right platform for Victoria for a while.
‘They think she is a real talent and one of the few opinionated TV journalists who could be a real powerhouse addition to GMB.
‘She’s not afraid to challenge guests, ask tough questions, get straight to the point and wax lyrical about what she believes in.
‘They’re using Piers’ exit as an opportunity to trial new faces.’
ITV are said to be interested in replacing Piers Morgan with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire as petitions urging the channel to reinstate him on Good Morning Britain reach 250,0000
Good Morning Britain has lost 500,000 viewers since Piers Morgan quit the show on Tuesday
There were more than 41,000 complaints received by Ofcom – the UK’s communications regulator – over Mr Morgan’s comments on Meghan, including one from the Duchess herself following the clash.
Meghan is said to have raised concerns with ITV about the effect Piers’s comments may have on the issue of mental health generally and those attempting to deal with their own problems.
But Mr Morgan later repeated his condemnation of her interview the following day when he told reporters outside his West London home: ‘If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.’
Piers tweeted that GMB had beaten ratings for BBC Breakfast in the ratings on his final day
The 55-year-old left the daytime series following backlash over comments he made about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey (pictured)
It comes as signatures on three petitions calling for Piers to be reinstated on Good Morning Britain have now reached more than 240,000.
Piers resigned from the daytime show after an on-air row with colleague Alex Beresford who criticised him for ‘continuing to trash’ the Duchess of Sussex
Mr Morgan – who had been on the show for five years – recently responded to the soaring petitions on Twitter by writing that although the support came as a ‘pleasant surprise’ he will not be returning to GMB.
He said: ‘I won’t be going back, but thanks to everyone who has signed these petitions. Normally, people start petitions to have me fired or deported, so this is a pleasant surprise.’
In a 332-word statement shared on Instagram, the tough-talking journalist thanked his supporters and declared he was ‘willing to stand my ground’.
In a statement, Morgan thanked supporters and declared he was ‘willing to stand my ground’
He wrote: ‘To all my supporters, I just wanted to drop you a note of thanks. (To all my haters, whatever.)
‘It has been an extraordinary week for me, for Britain, for our monarchy and for our future.
‘Those of you that know me well enough know that, despite my many faults, I’m always willing to stand my ground for the things that I think matter most.
‘My fervent opposition to the Iraq War led to my demise from the Daily Mirror. My outspoken views on the insanity of American gun laws led to the end of my time at CNN.
‘And now I’ve lost my job at Good Morning Britain because I chose not to apologise for disbelieving Meghan Markle’s claims in her interview with Oprah Winfrey.’
He added: ‘I thus became the latest ”victim” of the cancel culture that is permeating our country, every minute, of every hour, of everyday. Though of course, I consider myself to be neither a victim, nor actually cancelled.
‘However, I do believe the defence of free speech and the right to express honestly held opinions, is the most important issue of my career, and the most important issue in British society.’
Sources at ITV have said that Piers ‘will continue to make programmes for the channel’, according to iNews.
This is likely to include his popular celebrity interview programme, Life Stories, which has been on air since 2009.
‘Defence of free speech is most important issue in British society.’: Piers Morgan’s letter in full
To all my supporters, I just wanted to drop you a note of thanks. (To all my haters, whatever.) It has been an extraordinary week for me, for Britain, for our monarchy and for our future. Those of you that know me well enough know that, despite my many faults, I’m always willing to stand my ground for the things that I think matter most.
My fervent opposition to the Iraq War led to my demise from the Daily Mirror. My outspoken views on the insanity of American gun laws led to the end of my time at CNN. And now I’ve lost my job at Good Morning Britain because I chose not to apologise for disbelieving Meghan Markle’s claims in her interview with Oprah Winfrey. I thus became the latest ‘victim’ of the cancel culture that is permeating our country, every minute, of every hour, of everyday. Though of course, I consider myself to be neither a victim, nor actually cancelled.
However, I do believe the defence of free speech and the right to express honestly held opinions, is the most important issue of my career, and the most important issue in British society.
If you’d like to show your support for me, please order a copy of my book Wake Up on Amazon. It’s less than a tenner, and I didn’t write it to make more money but because the very foundations of democracy, built upon freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of speech, are under attack like never before and must be defended. It is a privilege to live in a democracy, and it is a privilege to be British. As I said when I left GMB, the right to free speech is a hill worth dying on. So, have a read, and if you like it, give it to one of your friends.
This is not simply an act of defiance, but a commitment to our collective futures.