TV presenter Fern Britton has taken leave from This Morning following the scandal over her gastric band operation.

Fern, 50, is said to be suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion’ and bosses do not know when she plans to return, according to reports in The Mirror.

A close pal revealed: “She is very down and we’re very worried about her. She feels she’s let her fans down.”

Fern was expected to return to This Morning on Monday after taking two days off last week. But show bosses told Fern to stay at home and Ruth Langsford stepped in to host, alongside Phillip Schofield.

ITV said: “Fern is having some time off and we are hoping to see her back at work very soon.”

But bosses are said to be privately angry that the show has been dragged into the row that erupted when Fern admitted that her dramatic weight loss was due to a gastric band – and not diet and exercise as she had claimed.

Fern is reportedly paid £200,000 a year to be the face of Ryvita Minis and Ryvita Crispbreads – a favourite among dieters. A fans were outraged that Fern had chosen to keep quiet about having had the weight loss operation.

A pal said: “She’s devastated by the backlash, especially from her fans. She is really down.”