ITV defend This Morning's Cat Deeley and Ben Shepard amid reports that viewing figures have plummeted

ITV has hit back at claims they are hoping for a U-turn in ratings following news that This Morning viewership has plummeted since new hosts Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard took to the helm.

The show had a fresh shake-up earlier this year when Cat, 47, and Ben, 49, were finally unveiled as the new permanent presenters, beginning their stint almost a year after the ITV show was thrown into chaos with the exit of Phillip Schofield.

It was a positive start on their first day (11 March) as the show drew in over one million viewers, but recent reports have claimed that this figure has dropped to 692,500. That figure is lower than Phillip's last day in 2023, which saw 767,00 people tune in, and the fewest since Holly Willoughby's last day in October.

A source told The Sun: "After the initial flurry of interest on their first day in the job, the viewing figures almost immediately dipped back into six figures. ITV bosses will be hoping they can turn things around before the next big milestone date as they’ve so much riding on Ben and Cat being a success."

Ben Shephard, Cat Deeley
ITV's This Morning are reportedly hoping for a U-turn after seeing a plummet in viewers tuning in ever since new presenters Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard took to the helm of the show -Credit:Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

But rubbishing these claims, a spokesperson for This Morning told OK!: "Ben and Cat have recorded the best audience reach of the year so far on This Morning with 4.5 million viewers across one week. Viewing figures for January - March 2024 are also up 5% compared to 2023."

Phillip stepped down from the role in May last year, and shortly after admitted to having an 'unwise but not illegal' affair with a younger male runner while working on the show. His long-time co-host Holly stayed on, and was joined by a number of guest presenters filling in for Phillip. But in October, Holly decided to step away too, sharing that the decision was 'for her family'.

Phil Schofield and Holly Willoughby
The show is seeing less viewers than Holly and Phil's respective final episodes -Credit:Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard
ITV are reportedly hoping things will 'turn around' for the show -Credit:ITV

While it's still early days, Cat has "grown in confidence" in the weeks following her This Morning debut, but is "relying" on co-host Ben, according to body language expert Darren Stanton. Speaking on behalf of Betfair Casino, Darren detailed how Ben is the one leading the way when it comes to co-host duties.

"While I do think Cat has grown in confidence, she still relies on Ben to an extent. They’re not yet on par with each other. At the moment, Ben is very much the lead anchor of the show and gives Cat confidence, which is clear," he said.

The duo are currently enjoying an Easter break from the show, with Dermot O'Leary and Alison Hammond stepping in while they're away.