Graham Norton has taken the blame for Alison Hammond’s blunder over his dead dog, saying he thought the incident was funny.
Alongside Dermot O’Leary, Hammond is taking over Fridays on This Morning following the departure of Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes.
During her debut this week, Norton appeared on the show to discuss his own new job as a weekend host on Virgin Radio.
Hammond asked whether he still had his dog, to which he bluntly replied: “No, dead”, prompting awkward laughter in the studio.
Speaking on his Sunday radio show, Norton dismissed the idea she had been impolite.
He said: “Now, I meant to say this yesterday, big up Alison Hammond. She got so much flak for apparently, you know, being insensitive or upsetting me.
“Because I did This Morning and she said, ‘Oh, how’s your dog?’ and I said, ‘Oh it’s dead’.
“And I did it in a deliberate way to be awkward. And it was going to be funny. It was funny.
“And I think she found it funny and Dermot found it funny. I found it funny.”
Norton said some people had “deliberately misrepresented” what happened to be “horrible”.
He added: “So I love Alison Hammond and if there was any awkwardness, it was my fault.
“I made it a bad thing. That’s the other thing, I feel like people then think I’m kind of heartless.
“I was bereft when the dog went, but now I can use it for comedy.”
Saturday morning saw Norton debut on Virgin Radio after departing BBC Radio 2 after a decade.
He has followed in the footsteps of ex-Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans in joining the station, and Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman is replacing him in his former slot.