Daytime television show This Morning fell victim to a hoax after it publicised a new celebrity sperm bank called Fame Daddy.
Dan Richards, the chief operating officer of Fame Daddy, appeared on This Morning on Tuesday claiming to provide sperm donations from big name celebrities to women wanting to conceive.
ITV today admitted the man was “an actor working for a TV production company”.
The FameDaddy.com website launched in 2012 carries the description “The world’s first celebrity sperm donor service”, claiming to offer “individuals and couples the celebrity semen of their choice.”
Sample donors include ex-premiership footballers earning over £10m, rock stars worth £40m, Oscar-winning actors, aristocrats, athletes and racing drivers.
ITV launched an investigation after Tuesday’s programme and today apologised to viewers who had been “deliberately misled by this stunt”.
An ITV spokeswoman said: "We obviously always make every effort to ensure the legitimacy of all the many stories which we feature on This Morning, as well as the authenticity of all guests. We carry out a range of checks, which in this case included verifying that this company was legally registered, and we did the interview in good faith."
She said those behind the stunt “clearly went to great lengths to pull the wool over the eyes of the programme and our audience”.
This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield told viewers that alarm bells had started to ring on Tuesday when their guest was on air.
"There is no doubt it was an incredible tale," Schofield said.
“There was something not quite right, it was so unbelievable,” Willoughby added.
The Fame Daddy website asks people to take the "find your dream fame daddy quiz" and says "Girls, want to shoot for the stars? Get in touch today, our consultants are here fore you".
A request for comment made via the Fame Daddy website has so far failed to elicit a response.