Tearful Fern Britton quits This Morning sofa
Fern Britton wiped away tears today as she received a surprise video message from her former This Morning co-host John Leslie during star-studded farewell celebrations on her last day on the show.
Britton, who turned 52 today, will be replaced after a decade on the flagship ITV1 programme by 28-year-old Holly Willoughby when the series returns after its summer break.
Leslie was sacked from the show following allegations arising from TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson's autobiography - although she herself did not name him.
In the moving video tribute, Leslie played a song for Britton on the piano, loosely based on Frank Sinatra classic My Way.
He sang: "You lived a life that's full and still got up early in the morning.
"But more, much more than this, we're gonna miss Fern's way...
"Charm, wit and beauty, she's got the lot. You will be missed...
"But hey Fern, this is your last day, so let's shout it out ...
"Britain loves Fern's way."
Sitting in front of a picture of Fern and himself, he said: "Cheers my love, all the best."
Leslie was acquitted of two counts of indecent assault on a 23-year-old actress in 2003.
The woman came forward to police in 2002, after he left the show.
In recent years, Leslie has pursued a career away from showbusiness as a property developer in Scotland.
Wearing a blue dress which flattered her newly-svelte figure and a sequinned jacket, Britton sat on the sofa flanked by her screen partner Phillip Schofield and her real life husband, TV chef Phil Vickery as tributes were paid.
Clips from her best bits were shown and there were video tributes from stars including Johnny Vegas, Ricky Gervais and Paul O'Grady.
A message read out from the Duchess of York said: "You are the kindest, most special presenter I know and you always keep your integrity to the heart and soul of what you believe in and stand for.
"I always remember to keep my wits about me when I know I'm going to be interviewed by you.
"You are no pushover. Thank you Fern for all your care, your golden heart and what you have given us all over the years.
"I shall miss you, we shall all miss you. I hope in the future you and I can have a long lunch and a good old catch up."
At the start of the programme, Torchwood star John Barrowman sang You're Just Too Good To Be True to Britton.
During a cocktail-making feature about 45 minutes into the morning show, Britton confessed she was "starting to feel a little worse for wear".
Willoughby has said presenting the show was "the ultimate dream job".
Britton has rejected rumours she quit the show after falling out with Schofield because he was being paid more than her.
She first announced her departure in March, saying she wanted to work on new projects.
Speculation over who would replace her was rife, with names including Myleene Klass, Melanie Sykes and Kate Garraway all mentioned.
Schofield said the show had planned to bring Fern to work via helicopter, but it had been grounded by fog.
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