"Hello, my darlings," began Barbara Walters, the doyenne of TV journalism, by phone to her colleagues on "The View" Tuesday. She had a little bit of news for them: "Like it or not, I'm going back on the program."

Effective Monday, Walters -- who co-created this franchise with her longtime producer Bill Geddie in 1997 -- will return after more than a month's absence.

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The news is not exactly a surprise (even if the timing is since February sweeps will be over). Walters, 83, and ABC indicated recently a return was imminent, while Walters, who has been apartment-bound, has spoken by phone to the show in other instances -- and according to some reports -- has also been active behind the scenes.

She suffered a fall outside the British ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19 and was hospitalized for a cut on her head. She subsequently announced that she had come down with a fever, later diagnosed as chickenpox -- or as Whoopi Goldberg said on the Jan. 28 edition, "You all know that she fell and cut her head 10 days ago, and then was running a temperature, but it turns out it is all the result of a delayed childhood. Barbara has the chickenpox. She'd never had it as a child."

Said Walters Tuesday: "I haven't been contagious for a while, but they wanted me to have rest, and I've had enough rest and I'm ready to come back."