Every London gossip columnist would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at cricket today, after Piers Morgan bumped into ITV director Kevin Lygo in the stands.
Mr Morgan watched the cricket match from the same company box at The Oval in London as Mr Lygo – the man responsible for the station’s programming – just two days after the former Good Morning Britain host was acquitted by Ofcom for his criticism of Meghan Markle.
The broadcaster’s watchdog unequivocally supported Morgan’s right to free speech, saying attempts to silence him amounted to a “chilling restriction on free speech” after he was forced to resign from GMB during the episode.
The 56-year-old former GMB presenter watched England v India on day two of the fourth Test after teasing earlier this week that he is open to getting his old job back.
It follows from insider claims that Mr. Lygo is a “huge fan” of Mr. Morgan. The 63-year-old, who is ITV’s director of media and entertainment, sat in a row for Mr Morgan – and their performance together could fuel rumors of the presenter’s return.
But one person not with them was ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall, who was pressured this week to explain why she tried to suppress Morgan’s free speech after Meghan complained directly to her.
An ITV source has told MailOnline that the network currently has no plans to invite Mr Morgan back to present Good Morning Britain, but he will continue to work with him on his Life Stories interview programmes.
But his wife Celia Walden told GMB this week that her husband has “iron in the fire” and “won’t be kicking around the house for long.”
Former Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan (top circle) and ITV director Kevin Lygo (bottom circle) at the cricket today
Mr Morgan and My Lygo watched day two of the fourth England v India test match at The Kia Oval today
Piers Morgan watched the English cricket match today from the same company box in The Oval as ITV director Kevin Lygo
Mr Morgan’s appearance at the cricket comes just two days after he was acquitted by Ofcom of violating broadcasting rules
Mr Morgan faces England v India in the fourth Test at The Oval today, two days after being cleared by Ofcom
Mr Morgan is pictured today at the cricket at The Oval in London, six months after he said goodbye to Good Morning Britain in March
Morgan was acquitted of any wrongdoing by the media watchdog on Wednesday after questioning Meghan Markle’s claims about her mental health following her interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.
And it emerged yesterday that Mr Morgan’s ex-colleagues now want him reinstated as a co-presenter alongside Susanna Reid, 50, to boost ratings as the ITV morning show has lost nearly a third of its viewership since leaving in march left.
GMB has lost a third of the average monthly audience since Piers Morgan quit in March
Good morning Britain has lost more than a third of its average monthly audience since Piers Morgan quit in March, MailOnline can reveal today.
The ITV breakfast program had an average audience of 883,478 in March, but this was down from just 570,000 in August, a drop of 35.5 per cent or 313,478 viewers in five months.
This is a much bigger drop than that of BBC Breakfast, which lost 227,352 viewers or 15.5 percent of its audience over the same period, from 1,468,261 in March to 1,240,909 in August.
The crowds were much bigger in March as the country was in its third national Covid-19 lockdown, with GMB overtaking BBC Breakfast for the first and only time on March 9 – the day Piers Morgan left the set. On that day, 1,290,000 watched GMB against 1,250,000 votes on BBC Breakfast.
But GMB has lost 86,126 more viewers than BBC Breakfast since March, when this average is compared to the August average. It has also not had a monthly figure above 700,000 since then.
A GMB spokesperson told MailOnline yesterday: ‘Good Morning Britain’s viewership share is 22 per cent to date, in line with 2020 and ahead of any previous year since launch.
“So, GMB continues to do well in 2021, also posting year-over-year increases for family audiences and 16-34-year-old viewers.”
A source from the show told MailOnline: “There is a growing movement among staff bidding on Piers to return. GMB really hasn’t been the same without him and now that he’s been acquitted by Ofcom, they feel there’s no reason why he can’t be reunited with Susanna.
“They appreciate that bosses don’t like making a U-turn, but it will be for the good of the show that to put it bluntly, it needs to be saved. They have to swallow their pride and do the right thing for GMB.”
Mr Morgan jokingly asked ‘will I get my job back?’ in a tweet posted shortly after the Ofcom ruling was announced, which he described as a “sounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios.”
But Mr Morgan later added: “I made that post on social media asking if I would get my job back to prove a point. I wouldn’t go back, not without a public apology and I won’t get one.
“Much bigger things are coming. The future is exciting. The next project is global, it’s big. I can’t say what, but people will be hearing about it in the coming weeks.”
And it was also reported this week that Mr Lygo had “no plans” to hire Mr Morgan again, with a senior GMB source telling the Sun: “The bosses know they need to give the show a full revamp and will do so in the next few years. of months.
“But Piers won’t be involved in that, the chances of him coming back are nil. Kevin is a big fan and has always said that, but internally he is unfortunately fighting a losing battle.’
The media regulator cleared ITV and Mr Morgan after receiving a record 58,000 complaints over his comments about Meghan the morning after her interview with Oprah aired in the UK.
During her conversation with the American talk show queen, the Duchess claimed that her mental health was getting so bad that she “didn’t want to live anymore” and that she was not getting the help she asked for from Buckingham Palace.
In addition, she also claimed that an unnamed member of the royal family had asked “how dark” her son Archie’s skin could be.
The Duchess also filed a complaint herself with Ofcom and ITV in response to Morgan’s rant when the outspoken host said he “didn’t believe a word she said” and that he “wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report”.
In explaining their decision to exonerate Morgan’s of any wrongdoing, the regulator said there was “public interest in an open and honest debate” about both mental health and suicide and race.
Mr Morgan, pictured with Mrs Reid in March, stopped in the middle of ITV’s Good Morning Britain
Piers Morgan and wife Celia Walden at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in London last night
And on both issues, Ofcom ruled that, despite the potential for insult, Mr Morgan’s comments had been sufficiently contextualized by challenges from other presenters and guests and by receiving several contributors who could speak decisively and with authority on racial issues.
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Morgan’s heated confrontation with weatherman Alex Beresford, who supported Meghan in her claims, caused the host to leave the set before returning to anchor the rest of the show.
And Ofcom also stated that Mr Morgan had “the right” to say that he “did not believe the charges made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and to harbor and express strong views that rigorously questioned their account”.
They added that restricting such views would be “an unjustified and horrifying restriction on the freedom of expression of both the broadcaster and the public.”
Speaking at GMB yesterday morning, Mr Morgan’s former co-host Reid admitted the ruling had left her in an “uncomfortable situation.”
She said: ‘What struck me about the Ofcom ruling, on the one hand I have my friend Piers Morgan, and on the other I have my bosses at ITV.
“So obviously it’s a bit of an awkward moment right now.”
When asked if she was “stunned,” Mr. Morgan not returning to the show this morning, she replied, ‘It was quite a moment, wasn’t it?’