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Kelly Ripa returns to Live

Michael Strahan calls her the ‘queen of morning TV’

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ABC

Kelly Ripa opened Live this morning by quipping “our long national nightmare is over” before thanking fans for “welcoming me back to the show.”

After standing quietly through an extended audience ovation, Ripa — dressed in red — stood in front of a camera alone to address the scandal that plagued the show and kept her away from the company that’s employed her for 26 years.

“I earned the right [for a break away from work],” said Ripa, who hadn’t been at Live since Tuesday when she was “blindsided” by the news of Michael Strahan’s departure to Good Morning America. “I know half of you called in sick to be here so we get each other.”

“I gained perspective,” Ripa continued. “I always speak from my heart. I didn’t want to come out here and say something I will regret… This started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and most importantly respect in the worksplace.”

Ripa’s message — read from a Teleprompter — featured a few jokes but it did appear as if she strayed from what was written by cracking, “I’m fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message.”

RELATED: The Most Awkward Moments on Live TV

“Apologies have been made,” she said. “The best thing to come out of all of this is that our parent company has assured me that Live is a priority.”

Ripa wrapped her short message by saying, “My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we are all crazy. I think he’s right.”

After joining her co-host at the desk, Strahan thanked Ripa again for the opportunity to work with her. “You love this show, you love the fans, you love the staff. I love you,” he said. “This is has been tranforming for me, You are the queen of morning TV… I’m happy you are here.”

“I don’t know where else to be,” she replied. 

Watch the video and read Ripa’s full opening speech below:

Our long national nightmare is over. Please be seated. I am going to be completely honest. I’m fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message. I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming back to this show. The love, the show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I really need a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with the company, I earned the right — and let’s be honest, I know half of us called in sick to be here today, so we get each other.

In that time, I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart, I didn’t want to come out here and say something I might regret. So what transpired though over the course of a few days has been extraordinary, in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication, and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace. And since we’re being honest, I don’t consider this just a workplace — this is my second home. This is a place that I’ve devoted myself to not just because of you, our loyal viewers but because of all of the producers and incredible crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team completely devoted to one another. We are family. Apologies have been made and the best thing to come from all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that ‘Live’ is a priority. (Guys, calm down, they didn’t say anything about Christmas bonuses.) But there is a commitment to this show and the people who work here and to you, the viewers, who have watched us every day for 30 years.

“I am thrilled for Michael, I am thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity and I couldn’t be and we couldn’t be prouder of you and everything we’ve accomplished together. So back to the show. This is entertainment. it’s supposed to be entertaining, so let’s get back to what we do best and start the show.

“Incidentally, I just want to say one thing: My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks that we’re all crazy, and I think he’s right.”

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