Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Britton quits ITV's This Morning

Fern Britton
Britton and Schofield have worked together for seven years

TV presenter Fern Britton has announced she is leaving ITV's This Morning after 10 years on the show.

Britton, 51, will leave when the current series comes to an end in July to spend more time with her family and pursue new projects.

She thanked her This Morning viewers for their "kindness and loyalty" over the years.

This Morning co-host Phillip Schofield - who will continue with a new presenter - said he was "very sad".

Britton said: "After 10 years with This Morning, I have decided to leave the show at the end of the current series. I will present my last show on 17 July, my birthday, which seems somehow appropriate.

"The This Morning team are simply the best and I will miss them all very much but I am looking forward to the freedom of exploring other things I want to do, and also spend more time with my wonderful family."

We have cried together over stories and we have laughed ourselves breathless too.
Phillip Schofield

Britton's departure brings to an end a seven-year partnership with Schofield, who said they "clicked from day one".

He said: "I'm obviously very sad that after 10 triumphant years on This Morning Fern has decided to leave the sofa.

"I've been lucky enough to work with her for six of those years and can honestly say that they have been amongst the best of my career.

"We have cried together over stories and we have laughed ourselves breathless too. I'm really proud of what we have achieved together on the show."

Last summer Britton, who is married to celebrity chef Phil Vickery, faced criticism in the press and from fans after admitting she had stomach surgery to help her lose weight.

Her dramatic weight-loss had been widely attributed to diet and exercise, but she admitted to having the gastric banding in 2006.

Fiona Keenaghan, ITV controller of Daytime and Lifestyle Features, said: "It has been fantastic to have Fern presenting This Morning and we'd like to thank her for the amazing job she has done. She is one of a kind and the team will miss her when she steps down."

ITV said Britton's replacement would be announced in "due course".

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