This Morning viewers were left in tears early into the latest edition of the program following an interview with Shirley Ballas. The Strictly Come Dancing head judge appeared live on the ITV daytime show on Wednesday (June 22) to speak to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.
She was speaking about her involvement in an interactive exhibition called The Last Photo, by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm). The poignant display features Shirley’s brother, David, who took his own life in 2003 at the age of 44.
This Morning’s support of the charity started back in 2018, when they patterned with mental health charity Calm, on a campaign that created the largest ever conversation about male suicide in the UK by installing 84 life-size statues on the roof of ITV Tower, Project 84 highlighted the shocking reality that every single week in Britain, 84 men take their own lives.
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Sadly, four years later, that statistic has increased – and on the programme, viewers saw Gok Wan on London’s Southbank where 50, six-foot-high photos have been installed, each one revealing a story of suicide and the heartbreak which followed. Starting her chat with the hosts, as her eyes filled with tears, Shirley said: “I got the privilege of going to the Southbank yesterday and walking down that corridor and seeing all those beautiful faces.
“And I think seeing my brother there brought everything back from 20 years ago and I’m thinking to myself, if I knew now back then, I could have really helped much better. Communication is key.” She added: “It is a beautiful display.”
Phillip, 60, went on to say to Shirley that he can see the ‘pain etched’ in her face over the loss of her brother. Asked about David, Shirley said: “First of all he was a really large man. He was kind of like a powerhouse person on the housing estate. Everybody loved him. He was a brother, was like a father… he was everything take.
“We talked every day at four o’clock. He really was the last person that I would ever think would take his own life.” She added: “When I look back now, there were warning signs, little things he’d say or comments he would make and I’d say, ‘You’ll be fine,’ because you didn’t talk about it.”
Holly and Phillip then wrapped up the interview with Shirley and introduced a video, created by Calm, which features a collection of home footage to show people in the days before they talk their own lines. It started with a young man singing ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ to his daughter.
The moving footage was accompanied by a new version of the Nat King Cole song, Smile. Following the film, the camera returned to the studio to show the visibly moved hosts who then went to a break. And This Morning viewers were soon expressing their emotions on social media.
@mikepriestley13 tweeted: “Had tears rolling down my face watching that video of the people that have taken their own life. They all had 1 thing in common they were laughing in front of people but behind that laugh they were struggling. Heartbreaking #ThisMorning. ” @onlysmols said: “I’m still crying blinking heck, that was very powerful #ThisMorning.”
@sophiebrinkles commented: “That @theCALMzone section of those final videos on #ThisMorning has me in absolute bits.” @chrismorley23 shared: “Bloody hell that was a powerful bit of tele… We need to talk and speak out and check in with your friends and family to #ThisMorning.” @Ryan17ward added: “That last segment on #ThisMorning hitting me right in the feels this morning! So powerful, poignant and moving! @thismorning.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.