Holly Willoughby and husband Dan Baldwin 'torn over time apart' as she leaves UK

As Holly Willoughby prepares to leave the UK to film a huge new TV series, a source told us she’s happy to step off the “rollercoaster ride” she’s been on for the past year, but claimed the opportunity comes at a personal cost. The 43 year old is currently packing her bags to fly to Central America for her new Netflix show with adventurer Bear Grylls. While it’s expected to give her presenting career a welcome boost after a difficult 12 months, it also means spending time away from “her rock”, TV exec husband Dan Baldwin, and their three children.

“She’s going to miss Dan and the family so was a bit torn about going back but she needs to get her career back on track and has to do this,” our source said. “They’re a really strong couple and they can do distance. She got quite a knock after all the trolling last year and she wants to put it all behind her, this is a great new start.”

Holly and Dan got married in 2007 and now live in London with their three kids
Holly and Dan got married in 2007 and now live in London with their three kids -Credit:Getty Images Europe

Holly’s troubles began in May last year when she was pulled into the whirlwind surrounding co-host Phillip Schofield’s “unwise but not illegal” affair, and his subsequent resignation from the show they hosted together for 14 years.

Despite being under the huge scrutiny of This Morning ’s viewers, Holly continued to hold the reins until October, when she made a shock announcement saying she was quitting the flagship morning show for the sake of “me and my family”. She kept her work diary relatively clear following her departure, freeing her up to spend much-needed time with Dan and their children - Harry, 14, Belle, 12, and Chester, eight - our source claimed.

The TV power couple married in 2007 at Amberley Castle in Sussex, witnessed by celebrity pals including Sara Cox and Dermot O’Leary, who was an usher. But despite their long relationship, the couple are rarely seen at public events together and Dan doesn’t often feature on Holly’s social media.

Holly and Dan are parents to Harry, Belle and Chester
Holly and Dan are parents to Harry, Belle and Chester -Credit:hollywilloughby/Instagram
Holly wished Dan a happy birthday on her social media earlier this year
Holly wished Dan a happy birthday on her social media earlier this year -Credit:hollywilloughby/Instagram

However, after they were spotted on a walk together recently, dressed in matching coats and baseball caps, body language expert Darren Stanton claimed the pictures showed they weren’t “fazed” about being out in public, and their mirrored body language indicated a “deep connection”.

“Holly and Dan are dressed very similarly which is a nod to how in sync the two are, and what’s interesting is that it’s clear to me they are in a very, very stable relationship,” he told OK!, speaking on behalf of Slingo. “They don’t feel the need to show any affection - in situations like this when we see two high-profile stars, what we don’t see can often tell us more than what we do see.”

He claimed the lack of PDA - with both of them keeping their hands in their pockets - showed they weren’t preoccupied with “trying to convince people that there’s a strong relationship there”. "In Holly and Dan’s case, less is more,” he added. “They don’t need to prove their relationship to anyone and it speaks volumes that shows Holly is very happy and feels secure. I think they are a very strong couple.”

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield
Holly worked on This Morning for 14 years alongside Phillip Schofield -Credit:Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Our source agreed that Dan had been a “huge rock” to Holly before, during and after the This Morning saga, and saying goodbye to long days on set allowed them to reconnect as a family. “Holly has enjoyed this time with her family so much, she’s really needed it,” they said. “The time has brought her and Dan closer and he’s been a huge rock to her. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, so it was the respite she needed and it’s brought them closer as a family.”

Holly’s initial return to television on Dancing on Ice in February wasn’t the big comeback she might have been hoping for, with viewing figures down to some of the series’ lowest ever, and our source claimed Holly’s family were “really excited” for her first Netflix show, expected to air early next year.

The trip won’t be the first time Holly has travelled solo for work. In 2018 she stepped in for Ant McPartlin as co-host of I’m A Celebrity, spending three weeks filming in Australia, and afterwards, she revealed the time alone led her to “unlock pieces of myself”.

Holly Willoughby
Holly isn't afraid to tackle new challenges away from her family, our source said -Credit:GC Images

Explaining how her time in the jungle inspired her to create her Wylde Moon lifestyle brand, Holly said: “I suddenly had three weeks without my children and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Australia is the land of alternative therapies. I really started to unlock pieces of myself and when I came back to England, I knew that I didn’t want to stop.”

There’s already been talk that filming with Netflix - which has more than 260 million subscribers - could open doors to more work outside the UK and enable Holly to emulate the success of the likes of Cat Deeley and James Corden in America.

Our source added: “This new Netflix show is a real challenge and it’s exciting, all of her family are really excited for her.”

OK! has approached Holly's representatives for comment.