Graham Norton (Photo: Mike Marsland via Getty Images)
Graham Norton has insisted Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield did “absolutely nothing wrong” amid controversy over their recent visit to Westminster Hall.
Despite insisting they “would never jump a queue” and were given permission to attend to make a piece for the ITV daytime show “like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists”, there has been continued conversation around the topic.
Appearing as a guest on Nihal Arthanayake’s BBC Radio 5 Live programme, chat show host Graham defended Holly and Phillip, but admitted it was “foolish of them to not think that people would be annoyed”.
Holly and Phillip on This Morning (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)
Discussing the topic of optics and PR, Graham said: “For instance, recently Phil and Holly and the queue. So as far as I’m concerned they did nothing wrong.
“There was a two-tier system. You could queue jump. Now, I got offered a queue jump ticket by a friend of mine.
“He’s an MP and he said, ‘Do you want to come?’ And I didn’t say yes because I thought if anybody sees me I’ll get it in the neck. And that was what I thought.
“So I suppose what Phil and Holly got wrong was they thought people wouldn’t care. I guess that’s their crime.”
The RuPaul’s Drag Race UK judge continued: “The actual queue jumping? They did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong. But foolish of them to not think that people would be annoyed.”
Following a significant backlash, Holly insisted that she and Phillip had “respected” the rules in place but “realise that it may have looked like something else” and therefore “totally understand the reaction”.
Holly and Phillip inside Westminster Hall (Photo: BBC)
Speaking in a pre-recorded voice-over for their report from Westminster Hall, she explained last Tuesday: “Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given official permission to access the hall. It was for strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event for millions of people in the UK who haven’t been able to visit Westminster in person.
“The rules were that we would be quickly escorted around the edges to a platform at the back. In contrast, those paying respects walked along a carpeted area beside the coffin and were given time to pause.
“None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone’s place in the queue, and no-one filed past the Queen.”
Holly continued: “We, of course, respected those rules. However we realise that it may have looked like something else and therefore totally understand the reaction. Please know that we would never jump a queue.”
The presenters were also seen interviewing members of the public who had queued to pay their respects to the Queen whilst she was lying in state, as well as sharing their own reactions to visiting Westminster Hall.
An ITV spokesperson added: “This Morning had press accreditation and like other media, Phillip and Holly were escorted to work from the press gallery by government staff.
“They did not file past The Queen’s coffin. They were there alongside a host of other broadcasters and national press outlets for an item that will be broadcast on Tuesday’s show.
“Any allegations of improper behaviour are categorically untrue.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has also expressed concern about the way the pair have been targeted on social media over the row.
She said last week: “I’ve been worried about them because even though they are celebrities… they are human beings and I just think ‘wow’.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.