Eamonn Holmes has said Phillip Schofield "appreciated a laugh to break the tension" after the Belfast man was criticised on social media for lighthearted remarks he made on This Morning after his colleague revealed he was gay.
Schofield, who has been married for nearly 27 years, announced the news on Friday morning with a statement posted on Instagram.
He then went live on air with his “kind and wise” on-screen partner and best friend, Holly Willoughby, for a special episode of the popular morning TV programme.
The pair struggled to fight back tears as Schofield described his "inner conflict" and spoke of the support from his "incredible" wife and daughters.
Eamonn and his wife, Ruth Langsford, who present the show on Fridays, hugged Phillip and Holly after the emotional interview, despite recent rumours of a feud between Ruth and Phillip.
Following the embrace, the Belfast-born presenter offered his support to his co-host.
"Nobody should be embarrassed about their sexuality," he said.
"It's fantastic that you have spoken out and there's so many people who will be strengthened by what you said.
"We, as Holly said, are all here by your side. We'll be the first to stand beside you. Absolutely brilliant, mate. As long as Steph's happy, the girls are happy , everybody must be happy for you."
But the 60-year-old admitted he was "disappointed" at Phillip's big announcement.
"I thought you were going to come in and announce you'd resigned and I would get your job," he joked.
"The second thing is, there's this great imponderable in life, which has always irritated me. I thought, 'How come he can sit in a hot tub with Holly 'Willoughbooby' and Steph [Phillip's wife] doesn't have a problem and Dan [Holly's husband] doesn't have a problem?"
Pointing at Ruth, he said, "She would have a problem".
While Phillip laughed off the comment and insisted that Holly is just "the sister he never had," This Morning viewers felt the comments were clumsy and insensitive.
One Twitter user branded the presenter an "absolute a******".
"That wasn’t funny... get off my TV. @ITV how does he get away with this?" she tweeted.
Another said: "But honestly Eamonn, that was disgusting. Using his moment to be a creep about "sitting in a hot tub with Holly", and how now he knows why his wife was okay with it.
"You ruined this sweet moment by turning it into something sleazy. You should be ashamed."
Another viewer agreed, writing: "Eamonn Holmes, foot ankle-deep in mouth, crashing in to stomp clumsily all over the moment in true Eamonn Holmes style."
But others thought it was "hilarious" and applauded Eamonn for lightening the mood.
One viewer branded said those who were angry at the remarks were "absolute wet blankets".
"Stunning moment on @thismorning with@Schofe and @hollywills. Also, brilliant veteran presenting from @EamonnHolmes, breaking the ice and giving everyone a smile at the end," another Twitter user wrote.
Eamonn later responded to the criticism, sharing a picture on Twitter of the pair embracing.