Celebrities praise Fiona Phillips after her Alzheimer's diagnosis

‘We all know and love her’: Tearful celebrities Holly Willoughby, Susanna Reid, Lorraine Kelly and Dr Hilary lend support to Fiona Phillips shock Alzheimer’s diagnosis – as her ex GMTV co-host Eamonn Holmes says ‘we wish you all the best’

  • Fiona Phillips was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s after suffering from brain fog
  • She has previously talked openly about her parents’ struggle with the illness

Colleagues and friends of Fiona Phillips fought back tears today after the former GMTV host revealed doctors have diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Hilary Jones and Susanna Reid were among those giving Ms Phillips messages of support today after the 62-year-old revealed how she was left in ‘total shock’ at the diagnosis after fearing her brain fog symptoms were a sign of the menopause.

Broadcaster and journalist Ms Phillips noticed the onset of crippling anxiety, confusion and brain fog at the end of 2021. Due to the nature of her symptoms, she saw a menopause specialist and had hormone replacement therapy.

Some of her symptoms improved, but the brain fog remained. She was examined by other specialists, spent months completing cognitive tests and ultimately received her dreaded diagnosis last year which was confirmed by a spinal tap test.

Dr Hilary, who worked with Ms Phillips for ten years on GMTV, described her as a ‘Lovely person, very warm, very welcoming to all of her guests, very knowledgeable, as you say, mischievous and fun.’

The 70-year-old GP added: ‘My heart goes out to her, sending her all my love. I’m so glad she’s spoken out about this to raise awareness to help other people.’

Meanwhile Holly Willoughby said on This Morning: ‘We are starting with a story that is very personal to this show actually… it’s personal because Fiona is married to our editor Martin.

‘It’s something that they have been living with for a little while but yesterday was the day to finally come out and speak about it for the first time. It feels extra cruel and sad because Fiona has said herself that dementia has decimated her family.

‘It’s tough because you normally think of Alzheimer’s and dementia as something that comes to somebody when they are older, but what is very brave about Fiona talking about this is showing and educating that this can happen much earlier in your life.’

Her co-host Vanessa Feltz then said: ‘I’ve known Fiona for over 30 years. She is a remarkable person, she’s incredibly bright, amazingly quick thinking, highly intelligent… I can barely imagine how this must be affecting her, she’s such an exceptional person… my heart goes out to her, I have never admired her more.’

Willoughby then added: ‘Let’s send out love to Fiona and all the family. I know we’ve been getting so many kind messages that have come through here to the show for them, and I know they feel very overwhelmed with the support they’ve been getting, so thank you for those.’

Earlier, Reid said on Good Morning Britain: ‘We are all sending our huge best wishes this morning to Fiona Phillips, well known to all of you as the former presenter of GMTV, for more than a decade.

Fiona Phillips has revealed that she and her husband Martin Frizell were left in ‘total shock’ when doctors diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s after having feared her brain fog symptoms were a sign of the menopause

Kind words: Dr Hilary fought back tears on Wednesday’s Good Morning Britain as he discussed his good friend Fiona Phillips’ shock Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Support: Holly Willoughby has also sent her love to Fiona Phillips after she revealed she has been diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s disease

‘She is a hugely popular presenter and journalist, we all know and love her, she has also been an incredible advocate to family’s living with Alzheimer’s.’

Meanwhile, her co-host Ed Balls said Phillips was an ‘iconic broadcaster’ and recalled how former PM Gordon Brown had once begged her to ditch her TV career so that she could join the government.

He continued: ‘I would guess that Fiona has been thinking about this for a long time and now it’s a reality that she’s been dealing with and so bravely.

‘She’s involved in a big trial to try and test out drugs which might make a difference and she wants to pioneer, she wants to talk about it. She wants to help other people deal with this but she’ll be doing all of that, helping other people as she’s always done while also having to deal with it which is so tough.’

And Lorraine Kelly said on her ITV show this morning: ‘It is really sad news but she’s been amazing, as you would expect. She’s been really brave, she’s been really optimistic as she always would be, but it’s a cruel, horrible disease.’ 

Meanwhile GB News host Eamonn Holmes said: ‘I think of my own wife, her father died, and her mother has to live with it at the moment and anybody who’s in that situation will be thinking, is it coming to me next? We wish Fiona all the best.’

His co-host Isabel Webster added: ‘It’s just such a cruel illness because it takes away all your memories or your personality. For family members to watch, I think it’s particularly hard.

‘And I think 62 is no age, she always probably suspected. She’s a dear friend of yours. I think she always suspected she would get it, but not at 62. We send her our best wishes.’

They reacted after Phillips spoke in a Daily Mirror interview about the moment that she and her husband, TV’s This Morning editor Martin Frizell, were told of the diagnosis. She said: ‘It was the shock. Total shock.

Mr Frizell, 64, added: ‘I just felt sick. We both sat in silence. There was no funny line to make this go away. ‘The doctor said he’d leave us in the room alone for a bit to digest it all. We just looked at each other and said: ‘S**t. What are we going to do?”

Support: Susanna Reid addressed Fiona Phillip’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis as she led the messages of support to the former GMTV host on Wednesday morning

The couple then went for a drink at a nearby bar, where they are now regulars, and were faced with the task of ‘trying to live our life as normal for now’. It is understood that Ms Phillips is taking part in a potentially revolutionary trial with a new drug that experts hope will slow or even reverse the illness for millions of people.

She is being supported by Mr Frizell, whom she married in 1997. They are parents to Nat, 24, and Mackenzie, 21. Until now, the couple had not told their children directly that their mother had Alzheimer’s.

Ms Phillips told The Mirror last night that she had received the news of the devastating dementia disease, which killed both her parents, around a year ago, having suffered from months of brain fog and anxiety.

The former GMTV host said the diagnosis was ‘heartbreaking’ and a ‘b****y horrible’ secret to share. 

Speaking of Alzheimer’s, Mr Frizell added: ‘Tragically, Fiona’s family has been riddled with it.’

The family had initially thought Ms Phillips’ symptoms may have been related to the menopause, which Dementia UK says is not unusual as dementia and Alzheimer’s share symptoms with the menopause and perimenopause.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms in some women may develop at the same time as the menopause, which the charity says ‘can bring additional challenges when it comes to seeking a diagnosis’.

Ms Phillips – pictured on GMTV with Eamonn Holmes in 1997 – noticed the onset of crippling anxiety, confusion and brain fog at the end of 2021. She saw a menopause specialist and had hormone replacement therapy. Some of her symptoms improved, but the brain fog remained

She was examined by other specialists, spent months completing cognitive tests and ultimately received her dreaded diagnosis last year which was confirmed by a spinal tap test

Ms Phillips said the disease was ‘something I might have thought I’d get at 80’ but not what she expected to be diagnosed with at just 61.

She added that the diagnosis left her feeling ‘more angry than anything else’ because of the impact it already had on ‘my life in so many ways’.

‘My poor mum was crippled with it, then my dad, my grandparents, my uncle. It just keeps coming back for us,’ she said. 

‘This disease has ravaged my family and now it has come for me. And all over the country there are people of all different ages whose lives are being affected by it – it’s heartbreaking.’

The former breakfast TV host insisted she was ‘still here’ and hopes she can help to find a cure ‘which might make things better for others in the future’.

Fiona Phillips pictured with her father, Neville, who died from the disease in 2012

Alzheimer’s also killed her mother Amy in 2006, who began experiencing symptoms in her early 50s

Ms Phillips, pictured with GMTV co-host Eamonn Holmes, presented the show for more than a decade

Fiona Phillips hid her Alzheimer’s diagnosis from her two sons, Nat and Mackenzie, for months because she ‘didn’t want to make a big thing out of it’. She and her boys are pictured with footballer Frank Lampard during a Chelsea FC charity event in 2009

She is taking part in a trial of the drug Miridesap at University College Hospital in London – but with half the participants receiving a placebo, it is impossible to know whether she is actually being given the medication.

Her husband said he believed her condition was ‘stabilising’, but admitted this could be ‘wishful thinking’. 

Meanwhile, the family is trying to keep things as normal as possible. But the changes Ms Phillips is experiencing have led to significant shifts in some ways.

She said she would no longer use transport such as the Tube as it would cause her too much anxiety. She is unable to drive and also has short memory lapses.

What is Alzheimer’s and how is it treated? 

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, in which build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.

This disrupts the transmitters that carry messages, and causes the brain to shrink. 

More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.


As brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost. 

That includes memory, orientation and the ability to think and reason. 

The progress of the disease is slow and gradual. 

On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live for ten to 15 years.


  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulties dealing with money or making a phone call 


  • Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated over inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior 
  • Eventually lose ability to walk
  • May have problems eating 
  • The majority will eventually need 24-hour care   


There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

However, some treatments are available that help alleviate some of the symptoms.

One of these is Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors which helps brain cells communicate to one another. 

Another is menantine which works by blocking a chemical called glutamate that can build-up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease inhibiting mental function. 

As the disease progresses Alzheimer’s patients can start displaying aggressive behaviour and/or may suffer from depression. Drugs can be provided to help mitigate these symptoms.   

Other non-pharmaceutical treatments like mental training to improve memory helping combat the one aspect of Alzheimer’s disease is also recommended. 

 Source: Alzheimer’s Association and the NHS


Ms Phillips has previously spoken about the deaths of both her parents from Alzheimer’s.

Her father Neville died in February 2012, while her mother Amy passed away with the disease in May 2006.

Ms Phillips has frequently spoken out about the disease and campaigned for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Speaking on This Morning in 2016, she told how her mother began developing early-onset symptoms as young as 53, before eventually dying at the age of 74.

Her father developed symptoms in his 60s and moved into a ‘warden-assisted’ flat, before being transferred to a psychiatric hospital shortly before his death at 76. 

Speaking of the moment she started to realise her mother had the condition, she said: ‘I noticed mum’s Alzheimer’s at Christmas. She was really cold, there was no food in the house, she’d have the Christmas tree up in November so it was very unusual.’

As her father realised what was happening, she discussed his devastation: ‘Dad was beside himself and little did we know he had it too. Bizarre presents, my brother had an orange ladies jumper.’

When his father was diagnosed six years later, it was after he was arrested by the police for driving ‘erratically’.

She described the impact on the family: ‘You can’t do enough. I love my brother, but resentment comes in, families are blown apart by it. It can happen to anyone. My mum was only in her 50s.’

Ms Phillips had also talked about her fears that she, too, might develop Alzheimer’s, saying in 2017: ‘I need to sort out an action plan that can be used if I ‘disappea’.

‘Of course I fear inheriting the disease with my family history, and I sometimes wake up in the night feeling anxious and worried about it. 

‘My parents were relatively young when they got it; my mum was in her early 50s, although at the time, we just put it down to her being eccentric.’

She also spoke of her parents decline, saying: ‘It was heartbreaking. The end is slow and undignified.’

And in 2019, she wrote a candid newspaper article in which she discussed her feelings of guilt and sadness, saying: ‘I feel I never did enough for my mum and dad. I couldn’t.

‘You can never do enough for a loved one with dementia. It’s a cruel disease with no cure, and days have no end. 

‘I will never feel I did enough. That’s why I often tear up when people tell me how lucky my parents were to have me. The guilt never goes away.’

Ms Phillips began her journalistic career working as a reporter for local radio stations such as Radio Mercury in Sussex and County Sound in Surrey.

Her big break came when she moved to GMTV as an entertainment correspondent in 1993, before being promoted to be their LA correspondent in December the same year.

She then fronted the breakfast show from 1997 to 2008, being the main anchor every Monday to Wednesday.

Ms Phillips announced in 2008 she would be leaving the show for family reasons, presenting her last show in December. 

This followed the death of her mother, and came after her father had also been diagnosed with the disease. 

After her father’s death, the journalist revealed she was left ‘angry’ at his care, and even referred to it as ‘manslaughter’. His rapid deterioration led her to question whether the drugs cost him years of his life.

She said at the time: ‘I am so angry at the way my lovely, lovely dad was treated at the end. In his final weeks he was so coshed by drugs that his poor body couldn’t cope.

‘They robbed him of his laughter, then his smile, which was all that he had got left, and I am absolutely furious about that. Then they robbed him of his life.

‘Maybe I’m being selfish because he wouldn’t have wanted to continue to be dependent on others. 

‘But that wasn’t a decision to be made by the medical system on his behalf … Without those drugs he could still have been healthy and happy, even with dementia.’ 

Fiona Phillips took part in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2005

Ms Phillips hopes that the trial she is partaking in will help those who are diagnosed in the years to come

Treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s has improved in recent years, and Ms Phillips hopes that the trial she is partaking in will help those who are diagnosed in the years to come. 

Despite saying goodbye to her regular slot on GMTV in 2008, Ms Phillips has frequently appeared on the network since, most famously when guest presenting Lorraine.

She has also appeared on Loose Women and reports for the BBC’s Watchdog.

She has been writing a regular column for the Daily Mirror for 20 years, and has previously discussed her family’s history of the disease in the paper. 

Her fans also know her for appearing on Strictly Come Dancing in 2005.

Ms Phillips has been a long-standing supporter of charity Alzheimer’s Research UK. In 2013 she attended ICAP Charity Day with the charity, joining brokers on the trading floor to raise funds for vital dementia research. 

In 2016, she appeared on This Morning in support of the charity, and in 2018 she spoke candidly about her family experience of dementia at the charity’s House of Lords reception celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first grant given by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Lorraine Kelly, who also worked on GMTV, has sent her love to ‘good, kind soul’ Ms Phillips and said on Twitter that ‘as expected’ she is dealing with her ‘shattering’ diagnosis with ‘courage and optimism’.

The host of ITV’s Lorraine added: ‘She’s a good, kind soul and I pray the treatment works and results in a massive breakthrough for everyone dealing with this hellish disease. Sending her and her family all my love.’

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘We’re sending our love and support to Fiona and her family following her announcement that she’s living with Alzheimer’s disease. 

‘It takes such courage to go public with a diagnosis and Fiona knows better than most just how much good that can do. Awareness is vital and Fiona’s bravery will help untold people who are going through their own dementia journeys.

Journalist and broadcaster Fiona Phillips has announced she is suffering from Alzheimer’s at the age of just 62

‘Fiona’s been a friend of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s for well over a decade, and her support has shone such a valuable spotlight on the importance of research in overcoming the diseases that cause dementia.

‘There are around 70,800 people with dementia in the UK who, like Fiona, are under 65 and we’re determined to find a cure to end the heartbreak it causes. And we’re so grateful to Fiona for standing with us in our mission.’

On hearing the news of Ms Phillips’ diagnosis, Kate Lee, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, added: ‘Our thoughts are with our Ambassador Fiona Phillips and her family following the announcement that she’s living with dementia. 

‘Fiona has frequently spoken out about her parents’ experiences of dementia, and her support of Alzheimer’s Society has been hugely impactful and greatly appreciated.

‘Sharing such personal news publicly raises much needed awareness of dementia and we are extremely grateful to Fiona.

‘We are here to offer our support to Fiona and her family and to everyone affected by dementia, through our website alzheimers.org.uk and dementia support line on 0333 150 3456.’

Paul Edwards, Director of Clinical Services at Dementia UK told MailOnline: ‘We hope that Fiona Phillips and her family are receiving the support they need following her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and applaud their bravery for discussing her experience openly.’

Mr Edwards also commented on the similarities between her symptoms and the menopause, adding: ‘Many people are unaware of these shared symptoms, and by choosing to speak publicly about her experience Fiona will help raise vital awareness of this and help others in a similar situation receive an accurate diagnosis, enabling them to access the support and medication they need.’

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