ITV presenter Piers Morgan has quit morning show “Good Morning Britain” after comments he made about Meghan Markle sparked public outcry and triggered an investigation by the U.K.’s media regulator.
The U.K. broadcaster confirmed in a statement on Tuesday evening local time that “following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain. ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add.”
Morgan, who began his career as a newspaper journalist and had a stint on CNN hosting “Piers Morgan Live,” started on “Good Morning Britain” in 2015 as a guest host and soon became a permanent fixture alongside co-host Susanna Reid. He also fronts other ITV shows, including “Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.” Variety contacted ITV for comment on whether Morgan will continue presenting the latter interview program, and was told the statement only referred to “Good Morning Britain.”
As one of the broadcaster’s most bankable on-screen talents, known nationwide — and, indeed, around the world — for his incendiary views and polarizing commentary, Morgan’s shock departure from “Good Morning Britain” is sure to be a blow for ITV. It’s all the more surprising given the broadcaster effectively stood by Morgan last month when he was accused of bullying prominent British industry campaigner Adeel Amini, who had shared on Twitter a negative experience working as a researcher on “Life Stories.”
Speculation has already begun circulating online about Morgan’s next move, which some suggest could be to forthcoming, Discovery-backed right-wing channel GB News.
Morgan’s exit from “Good Morning Britain” came less than an hour after an investigation was launched by British media regulator Ofcom into his comments on Monday’s edition of the show. Morgan said he didn’t believe Meghan Markle’s revelations about her mental ill health, which she made during her and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was broadcast in the U.S. on Sunday evening.
Markle said she had approached people within the Royal “institution” for help after she had entertained suicidal thoughts, but was turned down.
“Who did you go to? What did they say to you?” demanded a belligerent Morgan on Monday morning, when the U.K. press first began responding to the CBS revelations that had emerged overnight. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report,” Morgan continued.
Ofcom launched an investigation on Tuesday after more than 41,000 people wrote in to complain about Morgan’s behaviour.
Earlier in the day, on Tuesday’s edition of the program, Morgan stormed off set while “Good Morning Britain” was being broadcast live, following an altercation with weatherman Alex Beresford, who called Morgan’s behaviour “diabolical.” The host then left, uttering, “Sorry. You can trash me, mate, but not on my own show. See you later.”
Morgan later returned to the show and said: “When we talked about this yesterday, I said, as an all encompassing thing, I don’t believe what Meghan Markle is saying generally in this interview and I still have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she said. But let me just state for the record on my position on mental illness and on suicide: these are clearly extremely serious things and should be taken extremely seriously and if someone is feeling that way, they should get the treatment and the help they need every time. And if they belong to an institution like the Royal Family and they go and seek that help they should absolutely be given it.”
“It’s not for me to question if she felt suicidal, I am not in her mind and that is for her to say,” Morgan added. “My real concern was a disbelief frankly…that she went to a senior member of the Royal household and told them she was suicidal and was told she could not have any help because it would be a bad look for the family. If that is true a) that person should be fired and b) the Royal family have serious questions that need to be answered.”
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said on Tuesday during the broadcaster’s earnings call that she believed Markle “completely” and the broadcaster also issued a statement underlining its commitment to mental health and wellbeing as part of its wellness campaign, ‘Britain Get Talking.’ It’s especially important that ITV is seen as getting behind mental health issues given the controversy surrounding the spate of suicides, including that of popular host Caroline Frank, that have been linked to the broadcaster’s hit reality show “Love Island.”