Speculation is mounting that glamorous television pensioner, Dame Judy Finnigan, who's absence from the failing 'Richard and Judy Show' was explained by her irritating husband and co-host Richard Madeley as "a simple knee operation", may in reality have run away with Hollywood hunk, George Clooney.
Sources have confirmed that Judy has been "interested" in Clooney (65) ever since he stroked her knee during an interview about testicular cancer in 2003 and the confirmed bachelor's admiration for Ms Finnigan's breasts has been well documented.
Colleagues of the UK's favourite bickering couple have revealed that during Judy's absence from their iconic teatime gossip show Madeley's behaviour gave "cause for concern".
Ex-production secretary Mary Price, who was sacked yesterday, told reporters "We did wonder if Judy's operation was a cover-up. One minute she was doing her daily three hour circuit training in the Channel 4 gym, the next she'd disappeared. Richard just wandered around with red eyes, twitching and muttering "it's just a simple knee operation, nothing to worry about".
Finnigan has now returned to her husband's side looking radiant and happy and telling fans that her knee operation "went very well", but in a sensational taped telephone conversation with best friend Katie Holmes, the trembling blonde bombshell is heard to say "George is rubbish at sex" and "he thinks the clitoris is a climbing garden plant".
Despite being reunited with his voluptuous wife and co-presenter, reports about Madeley's bizarre behaviour during her absence continue. On several occasions he reportedly called child-like stand-in presenter Emma Bunton "Judipoopoos" and tried to massage her shoulders and adjust her bra. On another occasion he suddenly slapped lottery presenter, Mylene Klass, across the face.
The glittering couple, who have always claimed to have "a full sex life" were unavailable for comment yesterday, but close friend Paul O'Grady told reporters "These rumours about Richard losing his mind are a load of old crap. Name me one sane person who wouldn't like to slap Mylene Klass?".