Eamonn Holmes breaks sick leave to host tribute show to This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson
This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson has died at the age of 83 following a "short but determined" battle with cancer.
The broadcaster had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last month.
The news was announced on This Morning which she joined in 1988 for its first ever broadcast.
The programme said: "Such sad news- our friend and colleague Denise Robertson has lost her short but determined battle against cancer"
In a statement read out on the daytime TV show, her family said: “It is with the deepest possible sorrow that we announce the passing of a very great lady.
"Our dearest Denise Robertson lost her short battle with cancer today at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
"We send our gratitude to the many thousands of people who have sent messages of love, support and prayers during these difficult weeks, these sustained and delighted her immeasurably.
“The care that Denise received from Professor Cunningham, Dr Tait and all the staff at the hospital was above and above anything we could have hoped for.
“The world has lost an extraordinary woman. We know that her ITV family, the This Morning viewers and the incalculable number of people she has helped and causes she has championed during her 83 years, will be be grieving with us at this intensely painful time.”
Friends and fans have been paying tribute to Denise on social media following the news of her death.
Eamonn Holmes broke his sick leave to join his wife, Ruth Langsford, on the sofa to host the tribute show to Robertson.
The Northern Ireland TV presenter is currently recovering for a double hip operation but he said: “I wanted to come in today because obviously I’m off on sick leave at the moment. I have brought my crutch. But we have to tell you today that our beloved Denise Robertson has lost her battle with cancer.”
Actually .... It's me today. I wanted to be there to lead the tributes to Denise. I've known her for 30 years. https://t.co/hIbmBwWtOH— Eamonn Holmes (@EamonnHolmes) April 1, 2016
Had to be here ..... or she would have told me off from above ! https://t.co/BXYD1bBP1O— Eamonn Holmes (@EamonnHolmes) April 1, 2016
Co-presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby phoned in from their holiday destinations to share their memories of the much-loved agony aunt.
An emotional Willoughby revealed she had been told the sad news the previous day but said "hearing you guys talk about it now it's just so much more real".
"Whatever she did on screen was just the tip of the iceberg really ... she did so much behind the scenes that nobody saw ... there was nothing she wouldn't do. It's just so sad."
Schofield said that since hearing the news of her illness in February, despite everyone wanting her to return to work, "deep down we knew she was never going to make it back".
He described her as the person he had wanted to impress the most on the show when he started.
In February when she announced her absence from the show she explained that she had been diagnosed with cancer.
She said: "I'm sorry I've not been around for a couple of weeks but a persistent health issue has turned into something quite a lot bigger.
"I've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It has come as a surprise to me and my family but we know that many others have suffered and dealt with this condition and I don't plan to give up without a fight. My doctor is referring me for chemotherapy and hopefully that will start soon.
"I'd like to thank all the lovely viewers of This Morning who have been concerned about my health recently and I hope I'll be back on the sofa soon."
Within 20 minutes of the announcement, more than 2,000 messages of support had been posted under the statement on Twitter.