Entertainment

Holly and Phil did nothing wrong by attending lying in state, says Graham Norton

The pair were targeted online after visiting Westminster Hall without queueing with the public.
The pair were targeted online after visiting Westminster Hall without queueing with the public. The pair were targeted online after visiting Westminster Hall without queueing with the public.

Graham Norton has said he turned down a “queue jump ticket” to see the Queen’s lying in state but that This Morning presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby “did nothing wrong”.

The pair have been targeted on social media over claims they jumped the public line to pay their respects in Westminster Hall earlier this month.

Programme bosses have stressed the hosting duo attended as members of the media to film a segment for Tuesday’s show.

Dancing On Ice 2020
Dancing On Ice 2020 Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield (Ian West/PA)

Appearing as a guest on Nihal Arthanayake’s BBC Radio 5 Live programme, chat show host Norton said he had been offered the chance to skip the public queue by an MP friend but had declined.

Discussing how fraught public debate has become in recent years, he said: “For instance, recently Phil and Holly and the queue. So as far as I’m concerned they did nothing wrong.

“There was a two-tier system. You could queue jump. Now, I got offered a queue jump ticket by a friend of mine.

“He’s an MP and he said, ‘Do you want to come?’ And I didn’t say yes because I thought if anybody sees me I’ll get it in the neck. And that was what I thought.

“So I suppose what Phil and Holly got wrong was they thought people wouldn’t care. I guess that’s their crime.

“The actual queue jumping? They did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong. But foolish of them to not think that people would be annoyed.”

When This Morning returned on the Tuesday following the Queen’s funeral, Willoughby addressed the criticism on social media, saying in a pre-recorded segment: “Please know that we would never jump a queue.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has also expressed concern about their targeting.

She said last week: “I’ve been worried about them because even though they are celebrities… they are human beings and I just think ‘wow’.”

Around a quarter of a million people are believed to have paid their respects in person by viewing the Queen’s coffin during the period of her lying in state.