After Holly Willoughby's 'trauma': How to keep stars safe as she considers her future

How to keep TV stars safe in the spotlight

Holly Willoughby at the OVO Arena Wembley, London
Holly Willoughby is taking time out from the limelight (Getty)

Holly Willoughby has stepped out of the limelight — temporarily — quitting This Morning after she feared for her safety and the safety of her family following an alleged kidnap plot.

It raises questions over the safety of our TV stars.

Holly Willoughy's retreat

Moving forward, the presenter made the tough decision to quit her job on This Morning which made her a household name and established her as the darling of daytime TV.

Away from the cameras — Willoughby will face the even more difficult decision of what is next for her that is the best choice for her and her family.

Here Andy Barr, co-founder of PR agency 10 Yetis Digital, has shone a spotlight on how Willoughby could manage temporarily stepping out of the limelight.

He told Yahoo: "I think she will take a much needed break away from the spotlight in order to recharge her batteries, ensure her family feels safe and secure and then consider her options.

"She has business interests outside of the celebrity world and is always going to be commanding large fees for one off advertisements so she has no need to immediately rush back into a high profile, five days a week TV show."

What happened?

After the alleged kidnap plot, the TV star resigned from her high-profile job on This Morning which she would front Monday to Thursday every week.

Willoughby’s emotional goodbye in full sparked an outpouring of love from her ITV colleagues, as well as fans and her celebrity friends.

It was 14 years of memories and laughter, having made her debut alongside her former co-star Phillip Schofield in 2009.

Holly Willoughby arrives for the National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London
Willoughby has been in the eye of a media storm (Getty)

Her exit from the show comes just five months after Schofield stepped down from This Morning himself following the "unwise but not illegal" affair with a younger male colleague.

This Morning has been rocked by scandals in what has been a dramatic turn of events over the past year, including queue-gate.

Her Dancing on Ice future remains uncertain as it is not known how long or when Willoughby plans to make a comeback to the bright lights of showbiz.

Struggles with fame

Holly Willoughby with her husband Daniel Baldwin in London
Willoughby with her husband Daniel Baldwin in London (Getty)

Being in the spotlight can certainly magnify the events that are unfolding in a celebrity's life, as seen in the widespread of coverage of newspaper headlines.

The alleged kidnap plot left her fearing for her own safety and for her family: including her husband Dan and their three young children.

In her own words, she said: "Sadly, however, I now feel I have to make this decision for me and my family. I will miss you all so much."

Andy Barr shone a light on how Willoughby might be feeling but he reiterated there has been waves of support and love for her.

He added: "I would imagine that Willoughby will be in a lonely and potentially dark headspace right now but I also hope that she understands just how much love the great British public has for her.

"She is a national treasure along with being hugely respected by the large majority of her peers. She has gone through a massive trauma and I think every normal person would empathise with this and want to help her come through the other side."

Keeping TV stars safe

The incident has opened up wider discussions around keeping our TV personalities and presenters safe.

Willoughby's friend and former co-star Piers Morgan shared his experience of death threats and the impact it has had on him during his controversial TV career.

Elsewhere, Netflix had just released the docu-series Who Killed Jill Dando? which examines the unsolved death of the journalist.

It begs the question, who can keep the TV stars safe and how can we make sure those people feel secure?

Piers Morgan holds Holly Willoughby's waist as friends poses together
Piers Morgan spoke out about his experiences with death threats after his friend Willoughby quit (Getty)

Mr Barr told us: "There has to be a duty on the employers and production companies to ensure staff wellbeing is at the forefront of their priorities and not just chasing ratings.

"Celebrities are like anyone else in that, if they feel threatened, they have to have the confidence to report their concerns to the authorities, no matter how trivial it may seem. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their environment."

Social media at times can make high-profile personalities vulnerable to threats too.

Mr Barr added: "Social media enables threats to be more easily and frequently made and this is something that global Governments need to do more about, in terms of pressuring big tech to better safeguard its platforms from hate and harassment.

"The difficulty is understanding what is a credible threat and needs direct police involvement straight away. Whilst platforms like Meta (Facebook, Instagram) appear to be leading the way in trying to prevent hate there are many other social sites, such as X, that don’t seem to have wellbeing at the core of what it is trying to prevent."

Willoughby's job offers

Holly Willoughby with former co-star Alison Hammond while filming This Morning
Holly Willoughby has become a national treasure (Getty)

As the darling of daytime TV for 14 years, there is no doubt rival broadcasters will be looking to poach Willoughby for their shows.

With many shiny new job offers likely to be on the horizon, the PR guru noted Willoughby may be "very choosy" about her next position. "Who can blame her," he added.

In fact, Barr predicted the presenter will be likely to choose "less impact and less frequent shows" in comparison to her former enviable position This Morning.

Holly Willoughby on a call
What will Willoughby do next? (Getty)

"Willoughby has only stepped away from the This Morning duties so far and I would imagine she will continue to work on the less high impact and less frequent shows," he told us.

"She really is a national treasure who won’t be short of lucrative offers but she has had a torrid 12 months and is probably going to enjoy some time away from the spotlight.

"When she does come back there is a chance it could be via a totally new platform and opportunity. Whilst she doesn’t yet have the global appeal to command a big fee from one of the large streaming platforms, I could imagine her succeeding in winner over bosses and convincing them to give her a chance.

"In my mind she will quickly prove her worth on that front and go on to global fame."

Stars who stepped out the limelight

In the past, many stars who have found themselves in the eye of a media storm have stepped out of the limelight.

This isn't only limited to daytime TV stars as the stars of Hollywood and American reality shows have taken a break from the limelight from time to time.

In 2021, Jennifer Lawrence returned to the limelight after two years away from the bright lights of Hollywood.

On her return, she told Vanity Fair: "I'm so nervous… I haven't spoken to the world in forever. And to come back now, when I have all of these new accessories added to my life that I obviously want to protect."

Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner famously was only pictured once while she was pregnant with Stormi as she kept her pregnancy a big secret and out the limelight.

She told Vogue Australia in 2018: "I knew that it would be better for us, if me and Stormi just stayed kind of low-key... Your hormones are going crazy and your emotions are more heightened, and I just felt like I wasn’t prepared to...

"I just knew that it would be better for me, and I could enjoy the whole experience if I did it privately. I just felt like it was a sacred special moment and I wasn’t ready to share it with everybody. I just wanted to keep that to myself."

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