Last week, I made this Pajiba explainer the lead story on the links page. The explainer was for the weeks-long controversy over ITV’s This Morning cohosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. Holly and Phillip were longtime cohosts and friends, and she supported him when his marriage (to a woman) fell apart and he came out as gay back in 2020. But something shifted over the month of May – there were rumors that Holly and Phillip had a huge falling out, there were rumors of a high-level coverup, there were rumors that Phillip had behaved inappropriately with a coworker. Well, now we know what was behind all of the British euphemisms and open-secrets: Phillip Schofield groomed and engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a much-younger male employee. This is why ITV suddenly fired Schofield and why everyone connected to Schofield professionally and personally is in ass-covering mode.
Phillip Schofield has quit ITV after admitting he had an affair with a younger male ITV employee and lied to cover it up. The ex-This Morning host said the relationship with his junior colleague was “unwise but not illegal”. In a statement to the Daily Mail, Schofield said he “met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television”. He apologised for lying to colleagues, employers, the media and public.
An ITV spokesperson said they were “deeply disappointed by the admissions of deceit” made by Schofield and confirmed it had cut all ties with the host. It means the 61-year-old will no longer present the British Soap Awards next month. He will also not front a new prime-time series which ITV had said last week they were developing with him.
Schofield left his role at This Morning last week after reports of a rift with co-star Holly Willoughby. He said his departure from the show was unrelated to the affair with the colleague, who the BBC is not naming. The TV presenter was still married to his wife Stephanie Lowe at the time of the relationship. They separated in 2020, after Schofield came out as gay.
Schofield said he was “so, very, very sorry” for being unfaithful to his wife, and for lying to his colleagues, agents, employers, friends, the media and the public. The TV host said he would reflect on his “very bad judgement in both participating in the relationship and then lying about it”.
An ITV spokesperson said: “The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust. Phillip made assurances to us which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.”
Some former ITV daytime figures, including Eamonn Holmes and Dan Wootton, have suggested the network has questions to answer about how much managers knew about the relationship and what action they took.
ITV had to release a second statement in which they explained that they “investigated” the rumors of the relationship back in 2020 and both Schofield and this much-younger man repeatedly denied everything. When the story broke on Friday, Holly didn’t say anything, although it’s widely assumed that she was a big reason why Phillip was pushed out of This Morning. Then, on Saturday, she posted this on her IG Stories: “It’s taken time to process yesterday’s news. When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not. It’s been very hurtful to find out that was a lie. Holly.”
So, yeah – I haven’t followed the drama, but I was aware there was a drama and that it was all very hush-hush for weeks. It feels like Holly learned something big (perhaps the totality of Phillip’s lies and behavior) about a month ago and she began the process of cutting ties with him and trying to salvage her professional reputation. Will that work? I truly don’t know. It’s also interesting because this scandal really was an open secret among many in the British media, including some of the worst royal reporters. How many Schofield defenders have egg on their face? How much did ITV know and when did they know it?
— Eamonn Holmes OBE (@EamonnHolmes) May 26, 2023
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) May 27, 2023
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.
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