As viewers turned on the television TV on Wednesday 10 March, the landscape of breakfast broadcasting looked very different indeed.
Piers Morgan – the blustering, outspoken and divisive mainstay of ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) – will no longer be appearing on television in that early morning slot, having departed the show following a backlash against his incendiary comments about Meghan and her headline-making interview with Oprah Winfrey.
ITV announced the presenter’s exit in a brief statement late on Tuesday night, after broadcasting regulator Ofcom received more than 41,000 complaints about Morgan’s remarks.
GMB has a roster of presenters to call upon in the event of the main hosts’ absence, but who could step into Morgan’s “opinionated” and “disruptive” shoes on a more permanent basis?
Here is everything you need to know.
Who presented today’s GMB?
In the first instance, Morgan was replaced by experienced journalist and presenter Ranvir Singh, GMB’s Wednesday newsreader and political editor.
Co-host Reid said the programme will be “very different” but “shows go on” as she addressed the abrupt departure.
Opening Wednesday’s broadcast, Reid said: “Piers and I have disagreed on many things and that dynamic was one of the things viewers loved about the programme.
“He is without doubt an outspoken, challenging, opinionated, disruptive broadcaster. He has many critics and he has many fans. You will know that I disagreed with him about Meghan’s interview.
Reid said there are “many voices” on Good Morning Britain and “everyone has their say”, adding, “now Piers has decided to leave the programme… it is certainly going to be very different but shows go on and so on we go.”
Singh responded: “Well said.”
Who could replace Morgan?
When searching for a replacement host, the wide pool of talent GMB can already call upon to present shows will likely be considered – the presenting team of Morgan and Reid were only in place for three days of the week between Monday and Wednesday.
Could Ben Shephard – a regular GMB face on Thursday and Fridays – expand his commitments and start putting in full weeks of shifts?
Or maybe Charlotte Hawkins – already serving as newsreader on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays – might take on more regular hosting duties; Tuesday’s broadcast began with Morgan making the presenter stand up to awkwardly show off her dress, saying his “eyes are slightly distracted”.
Perhaps Kate Garraway could be tempted back to the Monday – Wednesday and Friday stints she hosted before Morgan’s arrival some six years ago?
Relief presenter and Citizen Khan star Adil Ray is another fan favourite that viewers would likely be happy to see more of; could the gulf left by Morgan be his presenting big break?
Though he hasn’t presented GMB for over a year, Richard Madeley’s appearances are often welcomed by fans for their often unintended, Alan Partridge-esque stylings.
But it could be that ITV instead choose to freshen up the format, and continue with a rolling roster of guest hosts, effectively ‘promoting’ Reid into the lead role.
Or they could hire a completely new face entirely – until a formal announcement is made by the broadcaster, the guessing games continue.
Could Alex Beresford step in?
Another name being recommended by fans is that of Alex Beresford, who since making the jump from GMB weather presenter to stand-in host late last year has acquired an enviable fanbase.
Beresford won further favour with a large chunk of the GMB audience this week, challenging Morgan on his views – which riled the presenter enough for him to storm from the set.
Things became tense on Tuesday’s (9 March) edition of the show, when Beresford turned his attention towards Morgan’s personal opinions of Markle, saying: “I understand you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle – or had one and she cut you off.
"She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has but yet you continue to trash her.”
It was at this point that Morgan stood up and said: “OK, I’m done with this” and walked off set, saying: “Sorry, no… sorry, can’t do this…”
As Morgan left the studio, Reid hastily called for an ad break to allow producers a chance to get the situation under control. After stalking off, Morgan returned to the set after a conversation with Beresford and Reid around 10 minutes later.
What has Morgan said?
Despite the furore, Morgan has said he is sticking by his comments about the Duchess of Sussex, reinforcing that he “didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview”.
Speaking outside his London home after quitting GMB, Morgan told reporters: “If people want to believe Meghan Markle, that’s entirely their right.
“I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth and I think the damage she’s done to the British monarchy and to the Queen at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital is enormous and frankly contemptible.
“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.”
Speaking on a media call, ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn insisted Good Morning Britain is a “balanced show”, saying: “ITV has many voices and we try to represent many voices every day. It’s not about one opinion.”
On Morgan’s comments, she said: “I completely believe what she [Meghan] said. It’s important everyone does.”