Watch: Richard Bacon feels emotional as he returns to breakfast TV
The former Big Breakfast presenter - who moved to Los Angeles in 2014 where he works producing gameshows - joined Charlotte Hawkins to host the ITV morning show two years after he last stood in for Piers Morgan.
Bacon, 45, confessed as the show opened: "Richard Arnold just said, 'Welcome home' out in the corridor. I was quite touched. It was quite sweet. It's great to be here. The voiceover at the beginning where it says 'Live from Television Centre'... it feels big, doesn't it?"
He went on: "For me, I haven't done this for a couple of years and I live in America now where I have a slightly silly job basically inventing gameshows and producing gameshows, which is a strange thing to do in the world.
"But to actually come back and do this, my first love is news and current affairs and to actually come back and talk about things that matter."
Hawkins pointed out that a few things had changed in the GMB studio since Bacon last guest-hosted the show due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Joking about the social distancing around the desk he asked; "Do we shout at our guests?"
Bacon asked her: "Were you ever in a meeting with the Prime Minister or senior government figures where a general or someone in the military warned that this could happen?"
Patel replied: "This is not a case of we did not know this was going to happen."
Her comment comes a day after UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News: "The truth is, across the world people were caught by surprise... no one saw this coming. Of course we’d have taken action if we had.”
Bacon appeared to be a hit with some viewers - who called for him to become Morgan's permanent replacement on the show. Morgan quit GMB in March after comments he made about Meghan Markle.
Julien Duncan tweeted: "Oh !! Richard Bacon, would be BRILLIANT, as a main, everyday Presenter !!!!!!"
Janice Barnes commented: "Richard Bacon is exactly what @Gmb need."
— Janice Barnes. (@logansteven) August 18, 2021
And Sam Jeffries wrote: "#GMB well hello Richard bacon! Defo think he should stay."
But other viewers were less impressed.
John Denton tweeted: "@GMB Please, please, please, get rid of Richard Bacon. Richard it’s not about YOU! It’s about the person your interviewing and stop interrupting Charlotte Hawkins."
Since Morgan left Good Morning Britain has had a series of male guest hosts including Richard Madeley, Adil Ray, Alistair Campbell, Martin Lewis and Bill Turnbull.
Father-of-two Bacon was sacked from BBC children's show Blue Peter in 1998 after a tabloid newspaper exposed his drug use. He went on to host Channel 4's The Big Breakfast in 2001.
In 2014 he moved to Los Angeles with his family and moved into TV production. Following the success of his gameshow The Hustler, he has signed a lucrative contract with NBC Universal to create new shows.