HOLLY Willoughby has left Phillip Schofield to present This Morning alone today, in an extraordinary and unheard of move for the star.
The TV host is fulfilling a prior commitment at Buckingham Palace for the Princes’ Trust – and a body language expert said Phil "upped his power signals" after Holly’s departure.
The decision to leave in the middle of the show comes as their feud rumbles on, amid reports Phil is set to get the axe.
Phillip, 61, who has been part of This Morning for two decades, is now said to be a "shell of himself" and a recluse on set thanks to the "feud" with Holly, 42.
As Holly left, she gave Phil a hug and a kiss, and body language expert Judi James told Fabulous: "She instigated it but there was a small micro-movement to suggest he was keen to pull the hug a little closer and make it look fonder."
Speaking about how Phil appeared hosting solo without Holly, Judi said: “The moment they yelled out ‘It’s time!’ to announce Holly was leaving, Phil upped his power and status signals by placing his hands on his thighs and spreading his elbows out sideways in a splay gesture.
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"It was Holly who performed a rather stilted-looking cheek kiss of farewell before literally skipping off as he called out behind her.
"One dramatic face-pull to the camera showed as a tie-sign direct to the fans and viewers as Phil sat down alone on the sofa.
"He sucked in a breath and then let out a chuckle as he said he’d be doing the vaults by himself."
However, Judi claims any "power signals" from Phil were just "bravado".
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She continued: "He did look strangely isolated as he said ‘I’m holding the fort’ at the start of the next section and his hand pose did look more like a signature Holly hand clasp rather than his own pose with them stuffed into his pockets.
"After the bravado start though, Phil did actually look slightly vulnerable and initially less assured without Holly."
It comes after The Sun revealed that Phil and Holly — who sparked controversy by jumping the queue to see the Queen lying in state last September — are barely speaking off camera.
Earlier in the show, Holly had revealed to viewers: “I have put my posh dress on today because later on this afternoon I am heading to Buckingham Palace and there the King will be and we will get to introduce the winners.”
Phil quipped: “So you are off mid dayish and I am holding the fort.”
Holly replied: “Yes you are, thank you very much.”
Fans couldn't believe she was heading off early and struggled to remember a time when she had done so previously.
One person commented: “Given the, erm, *circumstances* I reckon Holly jumped at the chance to knock off half an hour early …”
A second added: “No wonder Holly looks happier she gets to bugger off early #ThisMorning."
Yesterday, Judi said Phillip was hiding "inner emotions" from Holly and his confidence has "waned" due to their feud.
Phil has reportedly hired a lawyer after being “blindsided” by how public their fall out has become.
He also feared he would be axed by ITV after it emerged Holly, his TV partner of 14 years, was prepared to strike out alone on the show.
It's understood Holly was left blind sided when Phil released an emotional statement on their feud without consulting her.
Holly and Phil will be on screen together until late July and then take a six-week summer break.
It is believed they will hold talks with ITV on how they can move forward before their return in September.
Phil lobbied for Holly to join This Morning as co-presenter when Fern Britton, 65, left the show.
Holly joined him in 2009 and the pair — who also co-host Dancing on Ice — have earned 12 National Television Awards between them.
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Sources say issues have been quietly rumbling for some time and Holly has distanced herself from Phil off camera.
His absence following his paedophile brother’s recent court case has added to the strain.
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