PM says farewell to GMTV presenter

GMTV veteran Fiona Phillips signed off from the sofa for the final time today, with accolades from celebrities including David Beckham and the Prime Minister.

The presenter bid an emotional farewell to the breakfast programme, which she joined as entertainment correspondent at its launch in 1993.

Phillips, 47, said her departure was "one of the hardest decisions I've ever made", but that she needed to concentrate on her home life.

She finished her final programme by telling viewers: "I will not forget your kindness, thank you."

Today's show included a montage of highlights from her 15-year career.

She was initially based in the United States as GMTV's LA correspondent reporting on everything from the earthquakes to the OJ Simpson trial, before landing the anchor job in 1996.

Philips said: "The moments I've shared with you, people at home, when I had my first baby I was inundated with cards and letters and I just feel that I've been very privileged to be in your living rooms and kitchens and bedrooms, wherever you've been watching us."

Cheryl Cole from Girls Aloud embraced the presenter while bandmate Kimberley Walsh said she was "really chuffed" to be there for Phillips' farewell.

The clearly emotional host said she had been touched by scores of messages sent in by viewers, particularly those who said she had been "like a friend to them".

She said: "I feel very self indulgent but I can't help it."

Various celebrities and public figures recorded messages for the programme, including the Prime Minister, Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard and her long-time crush Donny Osmond.

Hollywood actress Kate Winslet said: "I've loved every occasion that I've had a chance to meet you, now go home and have a wonderful time with your kids."

David and Victoria Beckham sent a letter which read: "Thank you so much for all your support over the years. It's been wonderful watching you on GMTV and you will be sorely missed."

Phillips, who competed somewhat disastrously on Strictly Come Dancing, also received a message from the show's judges.

Head of the panel Len Goodman said: "We told you when you were on Strictly 'don't give up the day job' and now we've heard that you are, we can't believe it."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a greeting: "Congratulations on the support that you've won throughout the country."

Tory leader David Cameron said: "The sofa will never be the same without you. You had a special way of getting to the heart of every story and explaining it in a way that everybody could understand."

Phillips said during the show that she plans to continue working, but added: "I need to be with my children and my Dad and my husband and be nice to him for once!"

Sky News business presenter Emma Crosby will join Kate Garraway, Andrew Castle and Ben Shephard as a co-host on the weekday show.

GMTV also unveiled a new weather presenter, Kirsty McCabe, joining from the BBC.

She will work alongside fellow meteorologist Clare Nasir, with the two broadcasting on alternate weeks.

The presenting changes will coincide with a refresh of the main GMTV set from January 5.