Stacey Solomon has opened up on her absence from Loose Women after making her first appearance on the show in 11 months.
The 34-year old, who rose to fame as an X Factor contestant in 2009, first appeared on the ITV daytime show as a guest in 2016, before going on to become a regular panelist amongst the other Loose ladies. Having not been seen alongside Ruth Langsford and co since December, however, many viewers began to question whether she would ever return at all.
But now, the mother-of-five has moved to allay those fears by expressing her excitement at being back in the fold and explained the reason for her break. Wednesday's show began with huge cheers from the audience, as Stacey declared: "I'm so happy to be here, I feel like I've missed it so much!"
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With co-stars Kaye Adams, Katie Piper and Judi Love looking on, Stacey continued: "It's been crazy because Belle was a wonderful surprise but what that meant was I had to fit my filming schedule in, into a very short period of time, so I've just been up and down the country with Sort Your Life Out and filming another show, Bricking It, so I haven't been able to even get into town!"
She added: "Finally, filming has died down and I actually get to be with my friends again, I'm so excited, I've missed you for a catch-up. I've needed it, it's like therapy coming here!"
In a clip shared to the show's Instagram account, Stacey – standing alongside Judi – added: "I'm so excited to be back." Judi responded: "It's so good to have you. We missed you – you're not leaving now, did you know?"
It follows claims Stacey had "outgrown" the show amid the success of her own BBC upcycling programme, Sort Your Life Out. A source told Woman's Own last month: "It's no longer right for Stacey. Loose Women takes up a lot of her time. If she were to leave, it would free her time up a little, especially if she has to be away for longer periods of time with her own shows."
Rumours of her exit prompted a spokesperson for the show to issue a statement to the contrary last month, however, which read: "These claims are not true. We are looking forward to welcoming Stacey back onto the show soon." Stacey, meanwhile, has spoken of her pride at being a Loose woman. She told Lorraine: "I'm just grateful to be on there.
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"When I was on X Factor 14 years ago… I never even thought I'd be on a show like this never mind have opportunities like Sort Your Life Out and Loose Women. So every time I get to do something like that I'm genuinely like 'thank goodness, this is amazing!'
"You've just got to keep enjoying it because you never know when it'll be gone and when those things aren't going to be there."
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