Woman behind 'sack Holly and Phil' petition calls for 'positivity'

Woman behind ‘sack Holly and Phil’ petition says the furore it generated ‘is kind of destroying me’ and calls for ‘positivity not hostility and negativity’ as online poll passes 75,000 signatories

  • Sacking petition founder has called for ‘positivity not hostility and negativity’
  • ITV boss said Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby have been ‘misrepresented’
  • The pair faced claims that they jumped the Queen’s lying-in-state queue
  • Dame Carolyn McCall said the This Morning presenters were safe in their jobs 

The woman behind the petition calling for Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield to be sacked has called for ‘positivity not hostility and negativity’ as her online poll passes 75,000 signatories.

Laura Harrison, who created the petition ‘Axe Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby from TV’, alleged that the This Morning hosts were ‘given privileges that deprived others’ as thousands waited in the queue for up to 24 hours to pay their respects.

The campaign also accused the pair of ‘exploiting the situation’ and using their positions in media to ’cause more harm than good, without people noticing.’

In an update, she said that the petition is ‘kind of destroying me’.

She wrote: ‘I want to begin the week on a more positive note, and I don’t want to think about the programme anymore. It’s kind of destroying me.

‘Words will be twisted, but the intent was always to prevent people being hurt time and time again by these TV shows.

‘I’ve asked ITV to deliver any responses relating to this to the public and not to me, as I won’t be following the news, or watching the programme, or sharing anything online, or through social media.

‘I want nothing more than for this topic to end. I want positivity, not hostility and negativity. The concerns raised by this have been shared with Ofcom and ITV, and that’s all I can do.’

The This Morning hosts were widely criticised for queue jumping but they clarified that they were in the media queue and didn’t take the place of any member of public (pictured in media queue)

TV hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby pictured on Monday faced allegations that the pair skipped the queue to see the Queen lying in state

It comes as the chief executive of ITV said Phillip and Holly have been ‘misrepresented’ over claims they skipped the queue for the Queen’s lying in state.

Dame Carolyn McCall said the This Morning co-presenters were safe in their jobs, despite the online petition to have them fired, and praised their work for the broadcaster.

The pair have been targeted on social media over claims they jumped the public line to pay their respects in Westminster Hall earlier this month.

Programme bosses have stressed the hosting duo attended as members of the media to film a segment for the following Tuesday’s show.

Speaking at the RTS London Convention, Dame Carolyn was asked what they did wrong.

She replied: ‘Honestly, nothing. Honestly. They did have accreditation. Lots of people saying they didn’t. They were sent by This Morning to do a piece for September 20, which ran.

‘They were to interview people inside and outside. They didn’t displace anyone in the queue. And they’ve been very misrepresented, actually.

‘And that’s why we made a statement. Unusually, we made a statement to say all of those things. But it does show you how things spread and how misinformation just spreads. And it is really horrible for them.’

The online petition (pictured Tuesday morning) alleges the This Morning hosts were ‘given privileges that deprived others’ as thousands waited in the queue for up to 24 hours to pay their respects. It has received more than 75,000 signatures

Dame Carolyn dismissed the idea they had been ‘cancelled’ before adding: ‘I think they’re highly relevant and still very topical, and I think the majority of their viewers love watching them.

‘But there is a very shrill kind of voice against and it will hurt them.’

Dame Carolyn said she had complained to Domino’s Pizza, who had tweeted a satirical post about the pair skipping a queue to order one of their pizzas.

She said: ‘We just said to them, ‘What are you doing?’ because we work with Domino’s and they said, ‘We think it is really funny, don’t you?’

‘They just thought that was funny. They didn’t think of the impact that would have on how people would pick it up and start meme-ing it.

‘I think that’s what happens with these things which are … They did not do anything wrong.

‘They were with loads of other broadcasters, many of whom you know, and they were with lots of press journalists.’

Confirming the duo are secure in the jobs at This Morning, Dame Carolyn added that she had texted both and that they were not ‘feeling great’.

She added: ‘It’s hard. You imagine yourself in the eye of the storm like this, where you’re trying to say you’ve done nothing wrong and all the noise around you is saying that you have. It’s difficult to handle.’

It comes as more than 75,000 people have signed a petition calling for the duo to be sacked from their roles.

ITV bosses are reportedly concerned Holly and Phil (pictured last Wednesday) could be booed when they attend the National Television Awards next month following the backlash

The ITV stars have acknowledged the backlash and said they ‘understand the reaction’ but insist they were at Westminster Hall to work as broadcasters and did not push ahead of the public. 

The creator of the online petition, Ms Harrison, had continued to post updates and was eager to get the TV hosts off our screens.

She said that with the number of signatures the petition has gained they could nearly fill Wembley stadium. 

She said on Monday: ‘In most industries one or two complaints made against staff or their employer, would be enough for their managers to raise concerns and check what happened, for apologies to be made, and in some cases, grievances.

‘In precarious gig economy roles, those one or two complaints can cost people their jobs, and if three hundred complained about one or two members of staff, I’m sure it wouldn’t go unnoticed by their managerial board.

‘So how is it that in the entertainment industry they can avoid so many people asking for change?

‘It didn’t need to get this far, and I really honestly hoped it wouldn’t.’

She continued: ‘70,000+ signatures later and I can’t believe it got this far.

‘I have expressed my reasons for being concerned, and the harm that I believe these shows recurrently do. I’m so sick of ITV inquiries, and masses of Ofcom reports, but here we are with a different example.

‘I have done everything I can to voice the concerns of those that have signed, including writing to Ofcom, and sending a letter to the Board of Directors at ITV. I have also stressed the significant psychological burden these shows place on their viewers and their presenters, and how mentally draining they’ve become.

‘This isn’t just a petition about a queue-jump. It’s about the need for change, for hope, for something else than daytime TV and questionable journalism. Daytime TV shows are designed to keep people incarcerated. But people deserve better than that.’

A photo of Westminster Abbey – highlighting where the media box is, where the public queue is and where Holly and Phil appeared to be walking

Birdseye view: This graphic of Westminster Abbey shows the areas permitted for the public and media, and the spot where the presenters were seen

This Morning bosses denied show hosts Holly and Phillip had ‘VIP access’ and filed ‘past the Queen lying in state’

Viewers have been calling for an outright apology and for the This Morning duo to be axed, after many other celebrities spent hours waiting in line to see the Queen. 

Among those who waited their turn in the queue, dubbed the ‘Elizabeth Line’ were David Beckham and even Holly and Phil’s ITV colleague Susanna Reid, from GMB.

The pair have not expressed regret over the situation. Holly said: ‘We were given official permission to access the hall.’

Video showed Holly and Phil walking through Westminster Hall as around 250,000 people waited to bid a final farewell to the Queen – many waiting up to 24 hours for the opportunity. 

Last week Holly said: ‘Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given official permission to access the hall.

‘It was strictly for the purposes 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 we would be quickly escorted around the edges to a platform at the back.

‘In contrast, those paying respects walked around a carpeted area beside the coffin and were given time to pause.

‘None of the journalists or broadcasters there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one passed by the Queen.

‘We, of course, respected those rules, however, we realise it may have looked like something else.

‘Therefore, (we) totally understand the reaction. Please know, that we would never jump a queue.’

Despite their public acknowledgement of the incident, fans still remain unhappy with the explanation given. 

The furore began on Friday September 16 when the presenters’ approach was contrasted with that of David Beckham, who waited 14 hours in line that same day

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