Following Ben Shephard’s departure from Good Morning Britain (GMB), the TV presenter has said leaving his beloved co-star and “on-screen wife” Kate Garraway has been the “hardest decision”.

It comes as on Friday (February 16), ITV confirmed Ben will become a permanent presenter of This Morning alongside Cat Deeley, following the exit of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby last year.

Over the years, Ben has occasionally stepped in for Phillip on the famous sofa.

The new duo will begin hosting the daytime programme from Monday to Thursday next month, with Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary presenting on Fridays.

Ahead of her new role on This Morning, Cat who has presented American competition show So You Think You Can Dance for more than a decade, said she “really missed that sense of camaraderie” of hosting with another person.

“Ben is a true gentleman, an incredible presenter and a great journalist,” she said of her new ITV co-host.

“No-one handles live TV better; he makes it look effortless. He’s funny and whip smart, I can’t wait to go to work every day and do a job I love.”

Ben Shephard reveals why leaving Kate Garraway on GMB was 'hardest decision'

Speaking about his GMB exit, Ben said he has "learned so much” from Kate, his "on-screen wife" of almost two decades.

Ben said: “I’m grateful that my extended GMB family is only next door so that whenever I get nostalgic, I know I’m not going to be far away.

“Although I’ll miss being on screen with them, my later starts mean I may be able to hang out with them all a bit more.

“One of the hardest decisions of course is knowing that my mornings with Kate, my on-screen wife of nearly 20 years, is coming to an end.

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“Her journey has been well documented, and I think we would all agree how remarkable she has been over the last four years. I won’t miss the mess but I’ve learned so much from her, as I have from all of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside.”

The pair have been a regular duo on the breakfast show and Ben supported Kate when her husband Derek Draper suffered long-lasting symptoms from coronavirus.

However, Derek was admitted to hospital in December after suffering a heart attack and died the following month.

Upon her recent return to work, Kate told Ben on GMB this month that it was “lovely” to be back at the desk alongside him, but she admitted feeling “wobbly”.

After attending his funeral at the church in London where the couple married, Ben told her: “You really did Derek proud, it was an extraordinary thing.”