Leigh Francis nearly quit Celebrity Juice when Fearne Cotton left show

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Leigh Francis has said he almost quit Celebrity Juice when Fearne Cotton decided to leave the show.

The chaotic ITV programme is set for a new series in its 11th year, but will be without one of its veteran captains.

Cotton announced at the end of 2018 that she would not continue in her role as team captain and victim of Francis alter-ego Keith Lemon’s constant jibes.

The show’s star said that he was close to quitting himself when his friend and colleague told him she would be leaving, and believed Holly Willoughby would be the first to exit.

He has also revealed a pact made between the co-stars that if one was to leave, they would all quit the show.

But after 10 years, Francis decided he enjoyed his comic creation too much to follow Cotton, who is set to be replaced by Paddy McGuinness.

Francis said: “Initially I said, ‘That’s it, I’m leaving too.’ It’s been 10 years and Holly, Fearne and I don’t see each other all the time, but we’re a close group of mates.

“Ages ago we said to each other if one goes, we all go. After I found out Fearne was leaving, I went to bed and slept on it and woke up the next day thinking that I can’t leave the show because I still enjoy it so much.

Fearne Cotton to host new interior design show
Fearne Cotton will be replaced by Paddy McGuinness. (Matt Crossick/PA)

“I thought, ‘If Holly leaves because Fearne is then that really is the end, I’m not doing it without them both.’

“But then I spoke to Holly and the first thing she said was, ‘Who are we going to get then?’ I said: ‘So you’re still up for it then?’ and she said, ‘Of course!’ She did say she thought she would be the first to leave though. I thought so, too.”

Cotton will be replaced by McGuinness, who is already well-versed in the fluid format of the often-humiliating show.

Francis has said the trick to fitting in on Celebrity Juice is a to be well-lubricated with alcohol.

The star said of McGuinness: “He needs to drink like I do and as Holly does! You know what, we just never know what’s going to happen because it changes at the last minute.

“It’s really naughty, but on the night it’s quite booze-fuelled naughtiness. Everyone has their inhibitions pushed to the curb. Everyone knows what they are getting into after 10 years so people don’t get too offended.

“Holly, she’s a robot! She’s Holly Willough-boozy. She’ll always win a drinking competition. I don’t know how she does it. Like at the National TV Awards, she gets boozed up and then goes to work the next day.”

Francis said he would love to welcome Kylie Minogue onto the show, but would never be open to politicians appearing.

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