What's next for Piers Morgan after walking from Good Morning Britain over Meghan Markle row?
AS it says atop Piers Morgan’s Twitter page, “One day you’re cock of the walk, the next a feather duster”
While his storming off the set of Good Morning Britain, losing his job just 12 hours later, may have shocked the masses, it’s a reckoning he was ready for.
🔵 Follow our Piers Morgan live blog for the latest on his GMB exit…
Piers’s biog, a line from his indomitable late grandmother Margot Barber, is unlikely to prove prophetic — he won’t be dusting furniture or sweeping the floors of ITV HQ any time soon.
Indeed, sources close to the star say he’s already been “bombarded” with offers overnight, after refusing to apologise on air for slamming Meghan Markle’s controversial Oprah interview.
Hours after his on-air bust-up with weatherman Alex Beresford, he enjoyed a £400 bottle of Krug and a cigar. A Deliveroo driver was seen dropping off his favourite takeaway — chicken tikka masala and pilau rice.
Last night a source said: “From the outset, all Piers wanted to do was turn around Good Morning Britain’s fortunes and make the show a force to be reckoned with.
“Thanks to some barnstorming rants, genuine world exclusives and simple, ingenious programming, he did exactly that.
“His partnership with Susanna Reid was nigh-on perfect. Their chemistry was incomparable, as the pair’s final- day figures show — on Tuesday, he and Susanna drew in 1.89million viewers.
"Their bitter rivals, BBC Breakfast, got just 1.76million. Piers has nothing left to prove, and someone as mercurial and talented as him is never going to sit still for long. It’s time for a new challenge.
“Overnight he was flooded with offers and suggestions for new deals — some pretty interesting ones, plus a few wild and wacky offers which he had a laugh about.
“Given a few legal sensitivities ongoing with ITV, Piers won’t be making any major announcements just yet though.”
Typically buoyant, despite a mild-to-middling champagne hangover, Piers emerged from his £6million West London townhouse yesterday, declaring: “I believe in freedom of speech, I believe in the right to be allowed to have an opinion.
“If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly-held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.”
Earlier he had tweeted a photo of a top hat-wearing Winston Churchill, quoting Britain’s greatest statesman.
Whether Churchill was ever papped doing the school run is another matter.
But it’s clear that Piers — who was dropping off nine-year-old daughter Elise to the classroom at the time of yesterday’s monologue — will relish having more time at home. Not to mention a few lie-ins.
Indeed, with only nine months of his GMB contract left, insiders say Piers was ready to quit after more than five years at the helm.
Nonetheless, watching the programme, which he helped turn from a ratings flop to the most tweeted-about show in history, must have been tough.
Tucking into his breakfast staple, Marmite on toast — what else for Britain’s most divisive man? — from the comfort of his sofa, Piers, 55, joined almost two million viewers in watching Susanna address her former co-star’s sudden departure.
Presenting alongside stand-in Ranvir Singh, the popular 50-year-old host said: “There are many voices on GMB and everyone has their say. But now Piers has decided to leave the programme. Some of you may cheer and others may boo.
“He has been my presenting partner, Monday to Wednesday, for more than five years and during Brexit and the pandemic and other issues, he has been a voice for many of you and a voice that many of you have railed against. It is certainly going to be very different but shows go on and so on we go.”
For a woman so smart and impassioned, it was a slightly lacklustre, autocued effort. She looked numb.
Quite possibly, she was. According to a production source, the mood at the earlier 5.45am editorial meeting with boss Neil Thompson was “sombre”.
Unwilling to court yet more controversy, Susanna’s speech was partly drafted by show bosses, keen to keep it as “neutral” as possible.
The insider added: “Things were pretty tense, and the atmosphere quite bleak.
"Poor Susanna seemed quite shell-shocked but, professional to the end, was determined to keep things going.
“That statement was designed to be as neutral as possible, so as not to offend anyone else.”
ITV’s loss will be Amazon/Netflix/GB News/Sky’s gain. (The luvvies at BBC and Channel 4 probably won’t be snapping at his heels.)
Yes, at around £3million per year — for a three-day week — Piers was the highest-paid man in British breakfast TV history.
But with him, ITV effectively employed four men — on-screen talent, a relentless in-house PR machine, celebrity booker and Everyman, the one person representing the voiceless, holding MPs to account during the pandemic.
A Sun poll revealed 57 per cent of readers said they would be switching off GMB now that Piers was quitting. ITV has also lost his vociferous army of 9.5 million social media followers — the sort of priceless publicity networks previously only dreamed of.
And it was often via Twitter and Instagram that Piers would diligently plug the show, posting interviews and clips from that morning’s edition.
Anything he did was far more effective than anything a team of lightly paid (by comparison) PR girls could ever muster.
Using his enviable network of contacts, Piers frequently persuaded otherwise unwilling guests to appear on GMB.
Take, for example, then-President Donald Trump, whom Piers secured in the American’s first ever UK TV interview.
And it was this time last year that Piers really began to shine, regularly taking politicians to task over their handling of Covid-19.
So much so that PM Boris Johnson is still too scared to go back on the show.
It follows a last fateful cameo, in December 2019, which culminated in his hiding in a portable refrigerator to escape Piers’s heckling.
Last week the former Sun journalist met up with TV doyen Simon Cowell, who gave him his first break on primetime TV as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent.
While the hit talent show remains an ITV product, Cowell owns the series rights, and to this end, what he says goes.
Last night a source close to Simon said: “During their three- hour walk, Piers and Simon discussed the possibility of working together, and the hope is that Piers will come on board. The format needs shaking up, and obviously Piers has form with this.”
So who will ITV get to replace Piers? Former foe Jeremy Clarkson has been touted by fans but the ex-Top Gear man, now a star at Amazon Prime, seems more likely to volunteer for chemical castration than surface daily at 3.30am for breakfast TV.
Similarly, Richard Madeley must surely be in the frame, having previously stood in for rambunctious Piers. Whether he, now 64 and a full-time author, would want the job remains to be seen.
For Piers, the knowledge that Meghan Markle had a hand in his departure will be tough to take.
Incredibly — given she’s 5,000 miles away in a mansion in California — the Duchess of Sussex’s decision to write to respected ITV chief Carolyn McCall seems to have been his undoing.
Her complaints about the presenter’s attitude to her suicide revelations clearly shook network bosses.
Their subsequent actions — demanding that Piers apologise on air — signified a massive tide change.
Quite rightly, the broadcaster — still bruised from Caroline Flack’s suicide a year ago — is unwilling to take any chances when it comes to conversations on mental health.
By his own admission, Piers holds grudges, and this latest, ultimately fateful, rant racked up more than 41,000 complaints to Ofcom — something that once upon a time everyone at the channel would have secretly embraced.
While millions of people agreed with a lot of what he said, few can comfortably say the sight of a grown man berating a mentally fragile, heavily pregnant woman was an edifying one.
Although, to his credit, Piers did later clarify his stance on mental health, saying he did take it seriously — a segment that was quickly skipped over by his detractors.
Knowing Piers as I do, deep down he will realise his knocking of Meghan went too far. He is, again contrary to popular opinion, a liberal at heart.
ITV did not pay him to be a sweetly inoffensive Charlie Stayt, they paid him to be Piers Morgan.
To make waves, and create headlines — both of which he did, with interest.
The woke brigade may have won this battle, but Piers will surely emerge the ultimate winner . . .
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