From the moment Holly Willoughby announced her departure from This Morning it’s a question most fans of the show have been asking – who will replace her?
After 14-years of enormous success alongside Phillip Schofield, Willoughby stunned ITV executives by walking away from the coveted role after an alleged plot to kidnap and murder her was made public in October.
Still recovering from Schofield’s own, rather more acrimonious departure in June, the beleaguered show now finds itself searching for two long-term replacements – and the favorite to fill Willoughby’s stylish stiletto heels isn’t exactly a household name.
Indeed, Storm Huntley – who presents segments on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine programme – is rumored to be the front-runner… but who is she?
Born in 1987, the Scottish presenter was given her distinctive Christian name after her mother read Wilber Smith’s 1977 novel A Sparrow Falls – in which the central character has the same name.
Favourite: Storm Huntley is front-runner to replace Holly Willoughby as host of This Morning
Family: The presenter is married to Kerr Okan of indie band The LaFontaines; the couple are parents to 15-month old son Otis (pictured)
Raised in the East Dunbartonshire town of Bishopbriggs, Huntley attended the local high school before attaining degree in politics and economics at the University of Glasgow in 2008.
She continued her studies in England, where she enrolled in a postgraduate degree in broadcast journalism at the London College of Communication.
She took her first media role while studying in Glasgow with jobs at a local hospital radio station and the university’s non-profit freeform radio station, Subcity Radio.
Following her graduation she started from the bottom, taking on unpaid work experience before finding paid work as a researcher with BBC Scotland.
After developing a keen interest in weather reporting she took an Open University course in meteorology, a decision that led to Huntley presenting the weather on STV Glasgow’s Riverside Show.
Much like Willoughby – who started her career knee-deep in custard pies and buckets of gunge on kids show Ministry Of Mayhem – her potential replacement also enjoyed a stint entertaining children on CBeebies, having worked on BAFTA nominated show Down On The Farm since 2015.
More recently she has appeared on Channel 5 debate show The Wright Stuff and Jeremy Vine, where she serves as co-host.
The Scottish host has a similarly clean-cut image to Willoughby, documenting her family life with her 15-month-old son Otis and rocker husband, Kerr Okan of indie band The LaFontaines, on social media.
Domestic bliss: The Scottish host has a similarly clean-cut image to Willoughby, documenting her family life with husband Okan on social media
Regular fixture: She has appeared on Channel 5 debate show The Wright Stuff and Jeremy Vine, where she serves as co-host
Humble beginnings: She took her first media role while studying in Glasgow with jobs at a local hospital radio station and the university’s non-profit freeform radio station, Subcity Radio
Even her pet dog Boo gets in on the act, with Huntley managing an Instagram account for the adorable Shih Tzu – who already boasts an impressive 1,843 followers.
Huntley and Okan confirmed their engagement in 2020 and married the following year on the banks of Lock Lomond, with fellow presenter Carol Smillie serving as the couple’s officiating registrar.
After falling pregnant with her first child Huntley launched the Mums In The Making podcast – a light-hearted look at pregnancy through each trimester – alongside writer and producer Rachel Fulton.
Addressing rumours of her potential This Morning appointment last week, Huntley said on Instagram: ‘Very flattering but I think there may be a scheduling issue there.’
A number of people are thought to be in the running for Willoughby’s former role, among them part-time hosts Alison Hammond, Rochelle Humes, Josie Gibson as well as Kate Garraway and Davina McCall.
But PR guru Andy Barr told The Scottish Sun that advertisers would return to the show in their droves should Huntley be awarded the role.
He said: ‘Storm Huntley is fast rising up the bookies odds to make the jump over to ITV’s This Morning.
Family time: TV presenter Huntley with her young son in another social media photo
Colleagues: The presenter poses for a photo with Jeremy Vine at the TV Choice Awards in 2019
Popular: PR guru Andy Barr believes advertisers would return to the show in their droves should Huntley be awarded the role
‘Whilst all the speculation so far pits the job competition being between her and the ever-charismatic Alison Hammond, I do wonder if ITV is going to take the opportunity to give the format a complete makeover and lead with two female presenters to run the show. And why not?
‘Have the odd male guest presenter coming in and out as they do now, or even make it into more of a panel format with a few different presenters coming in and out, but with Storm and Alison leading the way.
‘The powerful duo, with their strong brand images, and large fan-bases, would have the big-spending advertisers potentially queuing up to return to the programme.’
Meanwhile, ITV has issued a new document, The Personal Relationships At Work Policy, which asks staff if their associations with each other are sexual, romantic and even platonic.
Regular fixture: Huntley, who started off as a researcher at BBC Scotland, joined Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, now titled Jeremy Vine, in 2015
Vacant role: From the moment Holly Willoughby announced her departure from This Morning it’s a question most fans of the show have been asking – who will replace her?
According to The Sunday Times, it says: ‘If a personal relationship exists between you and another colleague (whether it started prior to or during the course of your employment or engagement with ITV), both parties must disclose this to the company at the earliest opportunity.
Those who breach the policy could suffer disciplinary action and the loss of their job.’
One ITV worker said the document was ‘properly mad’.
It comes amid an investigation into the conduct of ex-This Morning host Schofield, 61, who had an affair with a younger male colleague.