Piers Morgan’s Meghan comments led to GMB getting highest ever Ofcom complaints

Piers Morgan‘s comments about the Duchess of Sussex‘s interview with Oprah Winfrey have led to the highest number of complaints in Ofcom’s history, it was announced today. 

The watchdog has now received 57,121 complaints about Good Morning Britain episodes on March 8 and 9 – but this figure is still less only a quarter of the more than 240,000 who have signed petitions calling for Morgan’s return. 

The presenter brushed off the news today, tweeting: ‘Only 57,000? I’ve had more people than that come up & congratulate me in the street for what I said. The vast majority of Britons are right behind me.’

The second complained about broadcast was a BBC broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera in 2005, which prompted 55,000 people to complain about its provocative themes, including a joke in which Jesus admits he is a “bit gay”.

In third place, with 44,500 complaints, was Shilpa Shetty being racially abused on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, with Jade Goody calling her ‘Shilpa Poppadom,’ and Danielle Lloyd saying that she should ‘f*** off home’. 

Today it emerged that the Meghan and Harry interview on Oprah has itself received 4,398 complaints. 

Morgan’s final episode of the show saw him storm off the set after a heated exchange with co-star Alex Beresford 

ITV announced Morgan had left GMB on the evening of March 9, shortly after Ofcom said it had launched an investigation under its harm and offence rules, after receiving more than 41,000 complaints in two days.

It later emerged that Meghan also made a formal complaint to Ofcom about the TV host after he dismissed her account of suffering suicidal thoughts and experiencing racism at the hands of the royal family. 

Morgan said on-air that he ‘didn’t believe a word’ of her interview with chat show host Winfrey when she laid bare her struggles.

She raised concerns with the broadcaster about the effect Morgan’s comments may have on the issue of mental health generally and those attempting to deal with their own problems – and not about the former newspaper editor’s personal attack on herself.

After a clip aired of Meghan discussing her issues with mental health and suicidal thoughts and royal official’s knowledge of them, Morgan said during Monday’s programme: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says.

‘I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.’

Morgan added she had sparked an ‘onslaught’ against the royal family.

His comments were criticised by mental health charity Mind.

The organisation previously said in a tweet it was ‘disappointed and concerned’ by Morgan’s comments, adding: ‘It’s vital that, when people reach out for support or share their experiences of ill mental health, they are treated with dignity, respect and empathy.’

Morgan’s final episode of the show saw him storm off the set after a heated exchange with co-star Alex Beresford, in which Beresford accused Morgan of ‘trashing’ Meghan.

Morgan has stood by his controversial comments and said his departure from Good Morning Britain was caused by the ‘cancel culture that is permeating our country.’

The complaints about Morgan’s comments far exceed those made about Celebrity Big Brother in 2018 when ex-Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett alleged she had been assaulted by fellow housemate Ryan Thomas, which prompted 25,327 complaints.

Ofcom received around 24,500 complaints about Diversity’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent last year, which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

GMB weatherman Alex Beresford had told Piers: ' I understand that you don't like Meghan Markle, you've made it so clear a number of times on this programme, and I understand you've got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle and she cut you off'

Beresford had told Piers: ‘ I understand that you don’t like Meghan Markle, you’ve made it so clear a number of times on this programme, and I understand you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle and she cut you off

It came as GMB’s Ben Shephard was today mocked by his co-hosts today for urging the Royal Family and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to ‘share their truth’ and ‘hopefully start healing’ after their private talks were leaked. 

Shephard, who added that it was important for all parties ‘to be honest with each other’, was accused by Susanna Reid of ‘sounding like a Californian therapist’ while Ranvir Singh joked that he needed to get his ‘teeth whitened’. 

The terms used by Shephard have strong similarities to those of Meghan and Harry during their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, which first aired on CBS on March 7, and then on ITV the following night. 

His language also comes in stark contrast to that of Piers Morgan, who quit the show on Tuesday last week after refusing to believe Meghan Markle’s claims made during her Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry. 

Morgan’s resignation has sparked a dramatic exodus of 400,000 viewers, with the GMB audience dropping by a third in the space of a week, leaving it trailing behind its main rival BBC Breakfast by 600,000 in the ratings war. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in conversation with Oprah Winfrey in an interview first aired on CBS on March 7

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in conversation with Oprah Winfrey in an interview first aired on CBS on March 7

The ITV morning show has pulled in less than 900,000 viewers for its past three days – significantly down from the 1.29million who tuned in on Tuesday last week for what turned out to be Morgan’s final programme.

That figure represented the first time the ITV broadcast had beaten its long-time rival BBC Breakfast, which had 1.25million, but GMB has since lost 400,000 viewers in a week to fall well behind in the morning ratings war.

Yesterday GMB had 890,000 viewers with an audience share of 23 per cent, compared to the 1.57million tuning into the BBC with a 42 per cent share. The BBC’s peak saw 2.34million watching at 8.15am. On the same day last year – Monday, March 16, 2020 – GMB had an average of 900,000 compared to the BBC’s 1.81million.

Standing in the outspoken former host, Shephard, 46, told GMB viewers this morning: ‘It feels like this is the sort of thing that’s not going to be sorted out in one phone call. We don’t know how much is going on either.

‘But if there’s been such a hugely seismic moment within a family that has been suddenly thrown, very personal things have been thrown into the spotlight, it’s not going to be sorted out quickly. It’s going to take a while for everybody to be able to share their truth and be able to be honest with each other and hopefully start healing, because that’s what we all want.’

Reid told him: ‘You sound like a Californian therapist, Ben.’ He replied: ‘Maybe I should be’, before she added: ‘Speaking a bit of truth and healing.’ And Singh joked: ‘You need a bit of tan, Ben… get your teeth whitened.’  

Meghan used the word ‘truth’ seven times during her interview which was first shown on March 7, while Oprah told her she was speaking ‘your truth’ – and the Duchess also talked about giving an ‘honest’ answer relating to the row over Archie’s potential skin tone. 

ITV presenter Ben Shephard (left) mocked by his Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid (right) on today's show on ITV

ITV presenter Ben Shephard (left) mocked by his Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid (right) on today’s show on ITV

Gayle King, who is friends with Oprah and Meghan, revealed on CBS This Morning yesterday that Harry had spoken to William

Gayle King, who is friends with Oprah and Meghan, revealed on CBS This Morning yesterday that Harry had spoken to William

The word ‘healing’ was yesterday used by Meghan’s friend Gayle King on US breakfast show CBS This Morning, when she spoke of Harry’s talks with his brother Prince Charles and their father William – and, during the Oprah chat, Harry said of his relationship with William: ‘Time heals all things, hopefully.’ 

Shephard’s choice of words set a different tone from the language of Morgan, whose remarks sparked more than 41,000 complaints to broadcast regulator Ofcom, which also received a complaint on behalf of the Duchess of Sussex herself, who had earlier also sent a formal complaint to ITV.  

A dramatic GMB programme today also saw former EastEnders star Patsy Palmer shut down her interview after being billed as an ‘addict to wellness guru’, and Reid scolded by former MP Edwina Currie who told the presenter she is ‘not Piers Morgan’ during a heated conversation about the Government’s coronavirus response. 

During the show, Singh also spoke about the latest royal news, saying: ‘You try to think what is the gain for Harry and Meghan in allowing that information out, what is it, it seems a little bit sort of mean spirited in a way? 

‘You’ve had your moment, you’ve had your two hours on telly where you’ve said everything you want to say… and all the stuff on the cutting room floor. You just think well what is the point of it at this point, releasing little… are we expecting to hear every phone call that happens?’

Piers Morgan calls on Britons to ‘stand up for our Queen’ as he lays into Harry and Meghan

Former GMB host Piers Morgan is pictured in London last week

Former GMB host Piers Morgan is pictured in London last week

Piers Morgan has called on Britons to ‘stand up for our Queen’ while accusing Harry and Meghan of leading a campaign to paint the Royal Family as a ‘bunch of heartless racists’.

The former GMB host took to Twitter to slam the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a week after resigning from his presenter role for refusing to apologise for comments he made about the couple’s controversial interview with Oprah.

He took aim at the couple again last night, writing: ‘There’s a very deliberate & malicious campaign being perpetrated by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to smear, defame and trash Britain, our Monarchy & the Royal Family as a bunch of heartless racists. It’s disgusting. Time to stand up for our Queen.’

It is the latest chapter in the fallout from Harry and Meghan’s explosive interview with Oprah where the couple suggested that the Royal family was racist, claiming that one unnamed member was concerned over how dark their son Archie’s skin would be. 

Speaking after the bombshell interview aired, Morgan said he did not believe the duchess’s remarks in her interview with Oprah, during which she spoke about her mental health and having suicidal thoughts.

He then stormed off set after GMB weatherman Alex Beresford took exception to his comments about Meghan. Shortly afterwards, he left his role as presenter after refusing to apologise for his remarks.

Shephard added: ‘Unless it’s to keep it out there, keep the conversation viable, so that means the conversations keep happening, like they feel maybe that will orchestrate more.’

And Dr Hilary Jones said: ‘I think Ranvir you’re right, I think conciliation is needed, and they need an independent third party who can be a go-between between them and say come on, let’s have some conciliation.’

Also today, British chat show host Trisha Goddard told the programme: ‘Beyond them being a Royal Family they’re a family, and this is the part I’m concentrating on.

‘And I’ve said all along when they did that interview what I heard was absolute pain and anguish – and they might not have got all the details right and what have you but the message was we are in pain.

‘Now the Royal Family – a family – needs time to react to that. I’m reminded of something that the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles apparently were having a conversation back in the days of Princess Diana.

‘And apparently the Duke of Edinburgh said to Prince Charles I wish you and Diana would just speak, just talk.

‘And Prince Charles said, well here’s the problem, every time I do it ends up on the front page of a certain tabloid.

‘So if a family feels that everything they’re going to say is going to end up as a headline, they’re naturally going to be more reticent and perhaps less honest, and maybe more sparing with the communication.’

It comes as Harry and Meghan revealed deeply private family conversations to their journalist friend Gayle King, saying that the prince had finally spoken to his father and brother following the interview.

Hours later, Miss King disclosed on CBS yesterday that the talks ‘were not productive’. The breakfast show host also suggested that Meghan was unhappy no one in the Royal Family had thought to telephone her. 

And, in a thinly veiled threat, the presenter said the duchess had ‘documents to back up everything she said on Oprah’s interview’.

The fact the Sussexes chose to reveal sensitive discussions between senior members of the Royal Family met with an icy response from Buckingham Palace.

‘None of the households [the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge] will be giving a running commentary on private conversations,’ said a senior royal source.

It was clear, however, that both the Windsors and senior officials see it as a severe betrayal of trust and unhelpful to attempts to rebuild bridges.

Prince William, when he was questioned by a TV reporter on a public engagement last Thursday, said he had not yet spoken to his younger brother, but vowed he would. 

Prince William is pictured driving outside Kensington Palace in London today after speaking to Harry over the weekend

Prince William is pictured driving outside Kensington Palace in London today after speaking to Harry over the weekend

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit a vaccination pop-up centre at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London today

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit a vaccination pop-up centre at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London today

Prince William, Charles, Harry, Camilla, Kate and Meghan follow the Queen at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020

Prince William, Charles, Harry, Camilla, Kate and Meghan follow the Queen at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020

The Queen with Harry and Meghan at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in June 2018

The Queen with Harry and Meghan at the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in June 2018

He also insisted the Royal Family were not racists after Meghan claimed one member had raised ‘concerns’ about ‘how dark’ her baby’s skin would be, and suggested there was an attempt to deprive Archie of a title and security because he was of mixed race.

Three petitions urging ITV to bring back Piers

  • A petition launched after Piers Morgan quit GMB, found here, said he had been treated ‘appallingly’.  
  • A second petition titled ‘Keep Piers Morgan on GMB for his common sense approach to life’ is seen here.
  • Another set up to ‘Save Piers Morgan from being sacked from GMB’ said a decision to remove him would be ‘an absolute farce.’ It can be found here

The duchess also said she had been given so little support by the Palace that she suffered suicidal thoughts.

Harry said he felt ‘really let down’ by his father, accused him of cutting him off financially and refusing to take his calls, while also revealing the gulf with William.

The Queen responded to the Oprah interview with a deeply personal message saying that while ‘some recollections vary’, the issues raised, particularly that of race, were ‘concerning’ and would be taken seriously.  

Significantly, however, she emphasised that from now on the difficulties would be addressed by the family privately.

There have been a handful of stories published in the UK media reporting that Charles and William felt hurt by what Harry had said, but with very little detail on what was taking place behind the scenes.

That was turned on its head yesterday when Miss King, who attended Meghan’s baby shower in New York in 2019 and is Oprah’s closest friend, decided to speak out on her prime-time morning show on CBS, the same channel that broadcast the Oprah interview.

Harry was accused of ’embarrassing’ hypocrisy this week for speaking to CBS, which caused outrage in 2004 by showing a photograph of his mother dying in a 1997 car crash in Paris.

Miss King told viewers she had called Harry and Meghan at their £10million California home ‘over the weekend’ to discuss the fallout from the interview and revealed they had told her details of their intimate conversations.

She said: ‘Well I’m not trying to break news, but I did actually call them to see how they were feeling, and it’s true, Harry has talked to his brother and he has talked to his father too.

Donald Trump says he may run against Meghan

Donald Trump last night said he might campaign for the White House again in 2024 if Meghan Markle joined the race too. The former US president was commenting on rumours that the Duchess of Sussex was ‘meeting with Democrat operatives [and] she may want to run’.

He told Fox News: ‘I hope that happens because if that happened then I think I’d have an even stronger feeling toward running. I’m not a fan of hers. I’ve met with the Queen and I think the Queen is a tremendous person and I’m not a fan of Meghan.’ It was reported on Sunday that Meghan had been networking with Democrats.

It is not the first time that Mr Trump has clashed with the Sussexes. Last year he also said he was ‘not a fan’ of Meghan and wished Harry ‘luck’, adding: ‘He’s going to need it.’ 

The comments, which were made in September, came after the Sussexes were accused of interfering in the presidential election campaign won by Joe Biden.

In what was seen as a thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Trump, Harry urged voters to ‘reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity’. Meghan added: ‘When we vote our values are put into action and our voices are heard.’ 

In 2019 Mr Trump called the duchess ‘nasty’ because of her past criticism of him.

‘The word I was given was that those conversations were not productive. But they are glad that they have at least started a conversation.’

Miss King also claimed the couple were unhappy that ‘the Palace’ had allegedly been leaking what they believed were untrue stories to the media. 

She added: ‘And I think what is still upsetting to them is the Palace keep saying they want to work it out privately, but yet, they believe these false stories are coming out that are very disparaging against Meghan, still.’

She made clear that the duchess was unhappy that no one in the family had called her. 

‘No one in the Royal Family has talked to Meghan yet, at this particular time,’ she said.

The Sussexes effectively accused the Royal Family and Buckingham Palace of institutional racism in their interview with Oprah.

But Miss King claimed they felt ‘frustrated’ that much of the coverage had focused on this – when they had apparently wanted only to provoke the monarchy into taking action against the media, which they believe has a racist agenda against Meghan.

‘It’s frustrating for them to see that it’s a racial conversation about the Royal Family when all they wanted all along was for the royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant,’ Miss King said. 

‘And until you can acknowledge that, I think it’s going to be hard to move forward.’ 

She also raised the issue of the investigation launched earlier this month by Buckingham Palace into how claims of bullying against Meghan lodged by a senior member of staff were handled.

 She said: ‘Anyone who has worked with her will tell you exactly who she is. You know, she’s really a very sweet, caring person.’ 

There was no immediate indication from the couple’s team of PR representatives – either in London or California – as to whether Miss King was speaking at their request.

‘I’m doing a Piers!’ Patsy Palmer storms off GMB and refuses to do her interview in a fury at being billed as an ‘addict turned wellness guru’ after 20-year battle with drink and drugs 

Patsy Palmer shut down her Good Morning Britain interview after being offended by her billing as ‘addict to wellness guru’.

The former EastEnders actress, 48, sat down for the virtual interview, from her home in Malibu, cradling her dog on her lap. But when she read the strapline she told hosts Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard she would be doing ‘a Piers Morgan’.

Reid began the interview by asking Palmer about living in the US, saying: ‘I wonder if you do get more privacy over there?’

The star replied ‘Yeah, I think you do’ before saying: ‘You know what, actually, I don’t even want to do this interview because I don’t even want to look at what it says at the bottom of that screen.

‘So, I’m just going to switch off and do a real Piers Morgan and just say, ‘It’s not OK to have ‘from addict to wellness guru’ on the bottom of the screen.’

The addiction issues ‘were talked about by me many, many years ago and it’s over’, she said before shutting her laptop.

The TV hosts apologised to Palmer, who took part in ITV show The Masked Singer, with Shephard saying: ‘I’m so sorry about that Patsy, huge apologies. It wasn’t our intention to upset you.’

Reid added: ‘I had no idea that was on the screen. Well that’s a terrible shame. Our apologies to Patsy. She’s entitled not to do the interview and we carry on.’

Shephard told viewers later: ‘Our intention was never to upset Patsy Palmer. We were very keen to talk to her… She has talked in the past, in her book, particularly about her addiction, her stint in rehab…and now she has a wellness brand…

‘It was the journey she has been on… that’s what we mistakenly misread…. We do apologise to Patsy and clearly she was very upset by that and that is certainly not how we like to do things.’

And Reid said: ‘It’s everybody’s right not to be on this programme if they don’t want to be, as we know.’

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