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Keith Lemon reveals real reason Holly Willoughby left Celebrity Juice – and why he's gutted

Holly's departure comes 12 years after joining the hit show

Andrea Caamano

A week after Holly Willoughby shocked fans by announcing her departure from Celebrity Juice, Keith Lemon has revealed the reasons behind her decision and why he was left gutted.

Talking to The Sun, Keith, whose real name is Leigh Francis, opened up about the moment he received the news.

"She rang me up. She never usually rings me so I thought she is going to tell me she's pregnant. She said, 'I've got something to tell you. This is like breaking up with a boyfriend'," Keith said.

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Holly announced her departure from the show last week

Revealing the real reason for her surprising departure, Keith added: "I said, 'You're going to tell me you're leaving, aren't you?' and she said, 'Yes, it's been 12 great years but I want to spend time with the family'."

MORE: A look at Holly Willoughby's family life: see photos of her husband, children and mum

"I'm gutted, she was like my TV sister. She's welcome back any time. I'll properly miss her," he added.

The This Morning presenter shocked fans last Sunday, confirming the sad news on her Instagram. Sharing a collage of pictures taken throughout the years, the mother-of-three wrote: "Thank you @celebjuiceofficial for 12 years of fantastic chaos… I can't quite believe what we've done and how quick that time has gone. Thank you to you all for watching. We’ve always had the loudest and best audiences. Also a huge thank you to @itv2 for believing in the show in the first place and for all of your support."

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Holly has said her departure will allow her to spend more time with her family

The star continued: "Over the years the production team has changed, however to anyone lucky enough to have worked on the show, they will know that we really do have the best time, it's never felt like work and always been to me like a night out... Thank you for all your ingenious ideas and hard work... all good things must come to an end and nothing lasts forever... It's time for me to hand over my team captain seat to some lucky lucky person... whoever that is, know you are about to get one of the best jobs in telly working with one of comedies finest... @keithlemon."

The This Morning presenter, then paid a loving tribute to his good friend. "Where to begin… I remember starting this journey with you and saying 'I think this might work'... my goodness me it did… three friends, you me and @fearnecotton and that is what is at the heart of it, friendship. I love the bones of you Lemon! Thank you for making me laugh for twelve years. I'll be back as a guest and just to make sure someone is keeping you in check... if I don't see you through a week or next week or the week after… know you are always in my heart."