From Piers Morgan to Eamonn Holmes: Celebrities who weighed in on Phillip Schofield’s This Morning and ITV exit

Schofield has said his ‘career is over’ after he admitted to having an affair with a much younger colleague and repeatedly lying about it

Louis Chilton,Ellie Harrison
Monday 05 June 2023 06:03 BST
Phillip Schofield reveals why he made affair public

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The British TV world has been rocked by Phillip Schofield’s departure from ITV, the broadcaster he has worked at for more than two decades.

Schofield, who presented the ITV daytime show This Morning with Holly Willoughby, announced his departure from the series in May amid reports of a behind-the-scenes “feud” between him and Willoughby.

The presenter, 61, later announced he was quitting ITV altogether after admitting he’d had an “unwise” but “not illegal” affair with a much younger colleague on the show and lied about it to his employers at ITV, his colleagues and friends, his agents, the media and the public.

A number of TV personalities and celebrities have given their thoughts on Schofield’s shock exit.

Follow live updates on the story here

Divisive GB News presenter Piers Morgan described the aftermath of Schofield’s initial This Morning departure as “brutal to watch”, and hit out at “ruthless backstabbing in the world of daytime television”.

“One minute Schofield was the undisputed king of morning TV and fast heading to bona fide national treasure status – the next he’s a dethroned, shamed, vilified, national disgrace and social media laughing stock,” Morgan wrote.

Morgan left his own position as host of another ITV morning show, Good Morning Britain, back in 2021 amid a row over his comments about the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Citing his own GMB downfall, Morgan claimed to have “personal empathy” with Schofield over the manner of his resignation.

Willoughby and Schofield in happier times
Willoughby and Schofield in happier times (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Following Schofield’s statement about his affair with a colleague, Morgan simply tweeted “blimey”, before posting another tweet on Monday 29 May that said: “I fear we’re now entering the Reservoir Dogs phase of the This Morning scandal… and it could end up with a lot of corpsed careers.”

After Schofield gave an emotional interview to the BBC, in which he suggested he had experienced suicidal thoughts amid the backlash, Morgan tweeted: “Unless Phillip Schofield’s ex-lover contradicts his version of events to The Sun [and the] BBC, then it’s time to stop this relentless persecution of a guy who’s lost everything and looks right on the edge to me.

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“He doesn’t seem to have committed any crime, and he’s not a [government] minister.”

Another celebrity to have weighed in on the story is Eamonn Holmes, who previously hosted the Friday edition of This Morning alongside wife Ruth Langsford.

Speaking on his GB News breakfast show after Schofield quit This Morning, Holmes claimed that Schofield had not chosen to resign but had in fact been “sacked”.

“Oh please, just stop this,” he said. “He was sacked. All this nonsense of ‘I’ve decided to step down’. I’m sure you did – ‘here’s your P45 now step down’.”

Holmes’s statement contradicts Schofield’s statement announcing his departure. ITV subsequently issued a denial, stating: “Phillip Schofield’s decision to step down from This Morning was (as his statement made clear) a decision agreed between Phillip and ITV.”

On Monday 29 May, Schofield shared an Instagram post in which he hit out at those who have “grudges” against him, claiming that there was “no toxicity” during his time on This Morning, which he called “the best show to work on, with the best people”.

Holmes then criticised Schofield’s statement, calling it “delusional”. He wrote: “I’m reluctant to give the liar any more publicity but believe me Pip if u r looking for a fight , u have picked on the wrong person [sic]!”

Holmes then doubled down, accusing Schofield of “toxicity” and ITV of a “cover-up”.

Read a timeline of Schofield and Holmes’s feud here.

Former This Morning mainstay Dr Ranj Singh also accused This Morning of having a “toxic culture”.

The health expert, who appeared on the daytime TV show for 10 years, said he was “increasingly worried” about things that were happening on the programme and how people were being treated.

He claimed that after he raised these concerns with top bosses at ITV he was “managed out” and has not appeared on This Morning since then.

While hosting This Morning on Monday 22 May due to Willoughby’s half-term absence, guest presenters Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond addressed Schofield’s departure, paying tribute to their former colleague.

O’Leary said: “As a show, everyone on and off screen at ITV and This Morning say a huge thank you to Phil for what he’s done to make the show such a success over the last 21 years.”

Hammond added: “Quite simply, we all know he’s one of the best live television broadcasters this country has ever had, and we and all the team wish him all the best for the future.”

Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary
Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary (ITV)

Hosting the show again on Monday 29 May, following the affair revelation, O’Leary asked viewers “how was your weekend?” in a subtle nod to the furore surrounding their former colleague. He and Hammond also insisted the show’s set is an enjoyable place to work.

Later that week, Hammond broke down while discussing Schofield live on air. “I’m just finding it really painful,” she said. “Obviously, I loved Phillip Schofield and it’s weird because I still love Phillip Schofield.

“However, what he’s done is wrong. He’s admitted it, he’s said sorry. As a family, we’re all really struggling to process everything.”

Nadine Dorries has called for an investigation into the whole scandal, with the former culture secretary claiming that Willoughby has “questions to answer” over how the young employee who Schofield had the affair with came to be hired by ITV.

Willoughby, who co-hosted the ITV daytime series alongside Schofield for 12 years, posted an update on her Instagram Stories on Saturday 27 May, saying: “It’s taken time to process yesterday’s news.”

She said she had “asked Phil directly” about whether rumours of his relationship with a This Morning colleague were true, but he assured her they were not.

“When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not,” she wrote, adding: “It’s been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie.”

Before the affair news had emerged, Irish chef and fellow This Morning star Clodagh McKenna shared a tribute to Schofield on social media, which read: “Twenty one years of brightening up our mornings…. And I’ve been so lucky to be part of three of them. I’ll miss the morning hug, the twinkle in your eye that makes me giggle and your empathy.

“You will be missed.”

Gladiators host Ulrika Jonsson also weighed in on the reported “feud” between Willoughby and Schofield.

“Daytime TV is a lively, narcissistic melting pot of ego, vanity, hierarchy and domination, not to mention the bevy of managers and agents standing backstage ready to compete for their clients’ best outcomes,” she said.

“For the show’s dedicated followers, however, I suspect this war of the egos is a great sadness. They have invested in both presenters over the years and are fond of them. On-screen duos are about balance, harmony and respect and it can be very hard to get right.”

In an interview with Channel 4, actor Rupert Everett said the coverage of Schofield’s affair has been “homophobic” and should be “dropped” by the media.

The actor agreed that reports on the relationship between the former ITV presenter and a younger male colleague were disproportionate and a “moment of insanity”.

In an interview with The Sun, published on 1 June, Schofield had suggested that part of the backlash against him was due to homophobia.

He said age gaps in reported heterosexual relationships involving Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio were “accepted”.

A “baffled” Jeremy Clarkson hit out at what he called the “witch hunt” against Schofield on 4 June, saying: “It seems to me he is only guilty of being what he said he was: gay.”

Former BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, meanwhile, urged people to stop the “relentless hounding” as “people are clearly on the edge”.

“I really hope the issues at This Morning are investigated and resolved,” he wrote on Instagram. “Hope that the individuals involved get the help they need and the show stays on air.”

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