WATCH: Kelly Ripa Returns To “Live!”: “Our Long National Nightmare Is Over”

Welcome back, Kelly!

Kelly Ripa made a triumphant return to Live With Kelly and Michael after her weeklong absence amidst backstage drama and gossip since Michael Strahan announced that he was leaving the morning talk show for a full-time anchor position at Good Morning America.

Usually Ripa and Strahan make their entrance at the beginning of every episode greeting the audience and promptly sitting down at their desk.

Not today.

Instead Ripa addressed the audience by herself to comment on all of the rumors.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” Ripa jokingly began her speech to the audience. “Our parent company has assured me that ’Live’ is a priority. I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with this company, I earned the right. And let’s be honest, I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other.”

After Ripa’s address she joined Strahan at their desk, where he also commented on her return. “I’m so happy you’re back, you are the queen of morning television.”

“Since we’re being honest, I don’t consider this just a workplace – this is my second home,” Ripa added. “This is a place that I devoted myself to, not just because of you, our loyal viewers but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team and we are devoted to one another. We are family.”

Watch her full speech below:

UPDATE: Following Ripa’s return this morning to Live With Kelly and Michael, People reports that Strahan will be leaving the show four months early.

“May 13 is his last show,” a source told People. “He’ll take the summer off and GMA can integrate him early before September, and this will give Live! more time to find the co-host. He’s totally fine that. Now he can enjoy his summer.”

People’s source also added that “this is not about feeling awkward with Kelly. He was willing to stay until the fall, but the network is saying this gives them more time to find the co-host. He’s a team player. He will do what they ask.”

Strahan was originally scheduled to stay on as co-host at Live! through the summer.

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