Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 10:57 UK

Schofield denies Katona 'ambush'

Kerry Katona
The ex-member of Atomic Kitten has had well-documented drug problems

Presenter Phillip Schofield has denied Kerry Katona was "ambushed" during an interview on ITV1's This Morning which saw the ex-pop star slurring her words.

He said she was "obviously very, very angry with us" for asking about her health, but said it was not planned but prompted by her erratic behaviour.

She arrived so late that producers had no chance to chat to her, or assess her condition, he told BBC Radio 1.

But someone had been "irresponsible" to bring her in to the studio, he added.

Explaining the circumstances leading up to Wednesday's interview - in which Katona blamed prescription drugs for her slurred speech - Schofield said: "She arrived very late [and] didn't give anyone any time to sit down and talk to her.

"She came through to the studio, we kissed her on the cheek and the programme went on air, so at no point had we any idea what condition she might be in."

He stressed there was "no way that our producer would have allowed that interview to go ahead, had we known the situation she'd found herself in that morning".

Schofield, who co-presents the daily morning show with Fern Britton, insisted: "The last thing I want to do is to witness a car crash in front of my eyes."

Katona had been taking Chlorpromazine, an anti-psychotic drug. She has previously battled drug addiction and depression, spending time in rehab for both.

Phillip Schofield
At no time were alcohol or drug issues going to be mentioned, because we've done that in the past. She ambushed herself by slurring her words
Phillip Schofield

Her husband, Mark Croft, later posted a statement online saying Katona's slurring had been "particularly bad" because she had taken her prescription drugs four hours late on Tuesday night.

"Kerry would like to categorically state for the record that that the only thing she drank before the show was cups of tea," he added.

"Having answered the questions to the best of her ability, Kerry was upset at the insinuation that she was on anything other than the prescription drugs, which she has always been honest about taking."

Schofield said that after the interview, Katona "was obviously very, very angry with us and she got up and walked out of the studio with her husband".

"We didn't attempt to stop her because we knew that she was a very angry girl, and the last thing you want to do is to make that any worse on the studio floor - and we had other guests there, so you don't want a scene."

Reality series

She went to her dressing room with a film crew from MTV who have been following her around for her new reality series, Whole Again.

"They're going to get the footage of the aftermath, so I don't know what's on that tape and I don't know what she said," he told Radio 1 breakfast presenter Chris Moyles.

The treatment which she is on has side effects, which include difficulty speaking and drowsiness
Kerry Katona's husband, Mark Croft

"As a production team, we're a bit sad this morning," he added.

"I know that she walked down the corridor and said that we'd ambushed her in the interview.

"At no time were alcohol or drug issues going to be mentioned, because we've done that in the past. She ambushed herself by slurring her words.

"It's a shame that she feels that way because unfortunately she set herself up, or she was set up by the person who brought her in."

'Concerned for you'

A section of Thursday's programme was spent talking about the interview and the media reaction to it.

A statement from Mr Croft was read out in which he said he and his wife were "incredibly upset about the negative news stories which have surrounded her appearance on This Morning yesterday".

Kerry Katona on ITV's This Morning show
Katona was promoting her MTV reality show, Whole Again
"Kerry has always been honest about her bipolar depression, for which she receives ongoing medical attention and takes prescription drugs daily.

"The treatment which she is on has side effects, which include difficulty speaking and drowsiness.

"Kerry did attempt to explain this to Phil and Fern, and was extremely offended that they continued to question her further, despite seeing her obvious distress at their ongoing line of questioning."

In a message directed at the couple, Britton said their intention "was never to get you upset or angry with us".

"We are just concerned for you because you're bubbly, you're funny, you're beautiful, you're quick-witted - all of those things, and we can't bear to see you not looking the Kerry we know."


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