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Showbiz pals angry as Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford are axed from This Morning

Linehan stunned after popular hosts dropped from regular Friday TV slot


Husband and wife team: Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford

Husband and wife team: Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford

Husband and wife team: Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford

Northern Ireland showbiz pals have rallied around after it was announced that Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford are to be removed from the Friday morning slot on entertainment show This Morning.

Close friend John Linehan branding it a "disgraceful decision" by the broadcaster.

And actor Charlie Lawson fired off a series of tweets expressing his dismay.

The married couple - who have sat on the This Morning sofa for more than 14 years - are reportedly set to be axed in favour of former Big Brother contestant Alison Hammond (45) and Dermot O'Leary (47), who previously presented The X Factor between 2007 and 2019.

It is believed the presenting shake-up aims to make way for the show's first permanent black presenter.

This Morning's editor Martin Frizell previously made clear his desire to hire a black presenter during a conference call with the show's staff back in June, in which he remarked: "There is not a black presenter on any of the programmes today. We plan to change that."

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Belfast-born entertainer John Linehan, most widely known for his pantomime character May McFettridge, is a close personal friend of the 60-year-old presenters - with his wife being related to Langsford.

He told the Belfast Telegraph of his shock upon reading the reports and questioned the decision taken by ITV in removing the presenting duo, warning that the audience reaction to the decision might take ITV bosses by surprise.

"I didn't hear about it until today. I thought it was a disgrace when I read it," he said.

"It's not because I know Eamonn and Ruth personally through family connections, but I know the two of them as presenters and people and they are absolutely superb at what they do. They are great at dealing with members of the public and I don't know what ITV are thinking with this decision.

"I know you have to make changes to a show every now and again but I just thought it was terrible.

"I think it is the wrong decision and I think the public will let them know that in the next few days and weeks.

"It's not that I have anything against Dermot O'Leary and Alison Hammond.

"Alison Hammond is a lovely girl and she does a lot of funny stuff on the show, but I'm just wondering how she would feel doing an interview or piece that was controversial, as This Morning covers quite a lot of that kind of stuff.

"In the minutes after I read about the story, I was just thinking about the situation they would be in on those topics."

While Linehan has not yet had a chance to speak to Eamonn following the news, he said he hopes to get in touch with him about it "once everything has settled down".

"Eamonn is superb at what he does, as well as Ruth. I am probably coming from a biased point of view, as he is a relation of my wife - but I mean it," he added.

"He started me off with my big break on the radio. He is a superb presenter in every situation and very professional in what he does.

"I'm not saying Alison or Dermot are not well educated, but Eamonn has 40 years of experience in this job; of doing everything from the farming news, to talking to Prime Ministers and other world leaders. I hope they reconsider."

It is believed Eamonn and Ruth will be asked to continue their work on the show when covering the holidays of permanent presenters Holly Willoughby (39) and Phillip Schofield (58), with Ruth also continuing as a regular panellist on ITV's Loose Women later in the afternoon.

The decision has also been met with outrage on social media, with some branding the news "devastating" and others saying how much they would miss the "remarkable chemistry" between the husband and wife pair on screen.

Radio host and columnist at The Sun, Dan Wootton tweeted that it was "appalling treatment" against them by ITV and This Morning. He added: "They've been absolute loyal rocks to that show through turmoil - and are beloved behind-the-scenes. Sad to see."

Responding to the tweet, Enniskillen actor Charlie Lawson - best known for playing Jim McDonald in the ITV soap Coronation Street replied in shock to the news, writing "What?"

He also re-tweeted a series of comments critical of the move.

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