The three weeks that ended Phillip Schofield’s career: From awkward on-screen chemistry with co-host Holly Willoughby to quitting This Morning – and now admitting to affair with young colleague while he was still married

  • Phillip Schofield dramatically quit ITV’s This Morning following row with Holly
  • ITV bosses were coming under increasing pressure to act over ‘tense’ duo 

Phillip Schofield has been dropped by his talent agency after admitting to an affair with a much young man, while he was still married. 

The development came after the veteran TV presenter quit ITV altogether with immediate effect earlier this week, and is the latest blow to his career.

Schofield confessed to lying to the Mail On Sunday, YMU agency and his colleagues about his affair behind his wife’s back in a statement today.

This comes after a headline-making feud with his co-host and former BFF Holly Willoughby saw Schofield dramatically quit ITV’s This Morning after 21 years.

After days of reports that Phil faced the axe at the channel, he took to Instagram on Saturday to reveal he had ‘agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect.’

It follows the breakdown of the pair’s friendship, which is said to have begun as Phil’s brother Tim stood trial for sexual offences against a teenage boy.

It is understood that Holly was not informed of the trial by Phil and instead found out the reason he had taken a break from the programme later.

After days of speculation over who would blink first as ITV bosses entered crisis talks, Phil left the show for good.

Here MailOnline has a complete guide to how the feud unfolded into disaster over the past 10 days that culminated into Schofield walking away from ITV for good. 

May 10 – News of the pair’s cracked relationship first emerges

What feud? Rumours of the couple’s falling out first hit the headlines on May 10

It was revealed earlier this month that Holly and Phil were ‘barely speaking’ off camera as the cracks in their relationship emerged.

The couple are ‘not as close as they once were’, insiders at This Morning originally told the media, as a source said the couple were considered to be ‘separate entities’ on the show for the first time.

Holly had reportedly made it clear to bosses that should Phil leave the breakfast programme she wanted to stay on. 

A source said: ‘It has become an open secret that things aren’t as rosy as they once were, Holly however has made her position clear and that is that she wants to remain at the heart of This Morning.’ 

May 11 – Viewers spot tension as Holly and Phil return to air and Phil issues bombshell statement

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV’s This Morning after rumours of a rift

The following morning as Holly and Phil returned to the screens, viewers were quick to notice a tense atmosphere between them. 

Some viewers pointed out that there were no trademark fits of the giggles during the programme, for which Holly and Phil have become known. 

One Twitter user said: ‘Doesn’t matter how much they try to cover up the cooling off of their friendship, it’s obvious on the sofa. Holly’s body language says it all, the way she sits slightly turned away from Phil.’ 

Others noticed that Holly appeared to have removed her co-star’s Twitter handle from her bio, although it is unclear exactly when the change was made. 

Later, body language expert Judi James told MailOnline that Phil’s on-air persona was similar to the body language exhibited by Prince Harry at the King’s coronation.

Ms James said: ‘Phil adopted a jaunty, almost cocky air, using some overkill rituals and facial expressions and some status-and-power splaying to suggest resilience and defiance’.

She added Holly ‘looked less comfortable, using some barrier rituals to suggest a cut-off from Phil, with the couple’s normal synchronicity falling apart at times’.

As the reports hit headlines, Phil made the decision that night to issue a statement to The Sun about his friendship with Holly.

He said: ‘As I have said before, Holly is my rock.

‘We’re the best of friends — as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone.

‘Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her.

‘The last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us.’

May 12 – Holly left ‘blindsided’ by Phil’s statement as Alison Hammond touted as replacement

Replacement: Holly reportedly would like Alison Hammond (pictured) to become her new co-host and is said to already have expressed her desire for them to team up to ITV bosses

Sensationally it was quickly reported the following morning that Holly had been completely ‘blindsided’ by the presenter’s statement as sources close to her said she had not been warned in advance. 

They added the first she had seen the statement was when it was published online, and there had been no contact from Phil beforehand, leaving her ‘upset’. 

The couple allegedly shared a tense phone call afterwards, which failed to resolve any of the issues.

It was also revealed that Phil’s return to the programme after a three-week break had been planned to make the couple’s performance appear carefree.

But viewers were quick to notice the tension in May 11’s show, as at one point Holly nervously played with her wedding ring, unable to look her co-star in the eye as she wished her son Harry a happy 14th birthday.

Questions also emerged over the couple’s future hosting of Dancing On Ice, the show where they first met. 

A source told The Sun: ‘Holly and Phil are the shining stars of Dancing on Ice, but if they aren’t getting on there are fears it won’t work.

Read more: Holly Willoughby breaks her silence after Phillip Schofield quits

ITV bosses were said to be considering Phil’s future on This Morning, after This Morning editor Martin Frizell allegedly became s ‘fed up of clearing up Schofield’s mess’.

It came as Kim Woodburn branded the 61-year-old as ‘nasty’ and demanded ITV sack the star from his This Morning role. She told GB News: ‘He’s an obnoxious, horrible man and I don’t know why he’s still on television.’

Elsewhere Alison Hammond was touted as a possible replacement for Phil after audiences reacted positively to previous episodes which had been hosted by the female duo.

And in a sign that the feud was encroaching more and more into the show’s format, the couple were removed from a promo clip upcoming shows in a subtle yet telling change. 

May 13 – Holly is pictured looking glum amid ‘feud’ with Phillip after the pair ‘call off holidays together’

End of an era: Phillip Schofield has quit his role on This Morning after 21 years as host, after weeks of tit-for-tat which saw him and Holly cancel their planned holiday

Holly was seen looking glum two weeks ago after the pair reportedly called off their annual holidays together amid their rumoured feud.

It was also reported that the previously close pair had called off their annual family holiday, which had become a tradition. 

On the same day the Mail on Sunday revealed that a young runner who worked with Phillip ‘mysteriously’ left his role on This Morning after striking up a close friendship with the host.

The man, who is in his 20s, first moved to ITV show Loose Women before leaving the network entirely – amid unsubstantiated claims of a falling out with Schofield.

The Mail on Sunday was told that other stars at the show and his colleagues were surprised to see the talented staff member leave so quickly three years ago, particularly given the mentoring that Schofield had shown towards him.

Both ITV and Schofield insist that his job on Loose Women was a promotion.

May 14 – Holly renegotiates contract as announcement from ITV shocks fans

Speaking out: Phillip broke his silence earlier this month to insist that there has been no fallout with Holly following a string of controversies including Queuegate and his brother, Timothy, being convicted of child sex offences

Holly Willoughby began negotiations with ITV bosses on her current This Morning contract, sources close to her claimed, allegedly in a bid to spur ITV into making a decision over the show’s line-up.

Other show insiders alleged that Mr Schofield has been nicknamed ‘The Grim Reaper’ on This Morning by some people who don’t get on with him. 

Yet despite the reports, it was revealed less than 24 hours before Monday’s show that both Holly and Phil would appear on the programme – leaving This Morning staff fearing the potential consequences.

Both presenters had reportedly told ITV they were set on continuing on with their roles, leaving bosses in a quandary. 

The row even permeated the BAFTA awards, as hosts Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan poked fun at the pair. Gesturing to Imelda Staunton, who was in the running for the Best Actress prize for her role as the late Queen in The Crown, Beckett said: ‘She’s nominated for her performance in The Crown.

‘Apparently, Holly and Phil got to watch that a couple of days before everybody else. A little bit of edge for you, early doors.’

Meanwhile Holly celebrated her sister’s birthday in a touching Instagram post.

May 15 – Holly and Phil return to the studio as viewers spot ‘painful’ chemistry

Support: Holly was also described as Phillip’s ‘rock’ when he came out as gay live on This Morning in 2020 – but this week that chemistry was long gone

Holly and Phil returned to the ITV studio as rumours flew the 61-year-old planned to ‘tough out’ his ongoing row following 48 hours of crisis talks with bosses.

It was reported that Phil had consulted with top lawyers on the falling out and his future at the TV channel.

Former This Morning host Eamonn Holmes also waded into the row, saying: ‘I think there should have been a special award [at the BAFTAs] for Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby for best actors.’

‘They may or may not be together on the telly today. He’s brought in lawyers, she’s brought in a PR team. The public surely will suss that there’s no chemistry, that it’s a broken fit between the two of them and that This Morning does not depend on who presents it.’

As the couple presented the morning show, viewers said their joviality appeared ‘forced’ and ‘painful’ at times, especially during a live workout.

Body language expert Ms James said Phil appeared to be attempting a ‘bravado fight-back’ while Holly had a smile that ‘didn’t reach her eyes’.

May 16 – Holly looks forward to ‘endless possibility’ as crushing rating loss revealed

Phil and Holly have enjoyed more than 13 years of co-hosting – which has unravelled in just 10 days

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were ‘tense’ backstage before posing for an awkward picture on the set

Holly told fans through her newsletter that she was looking forward to a future with ‘joy, love, and endless possibility’.

She was also spotted sharing a supportive hug with ITV co-star Kate Garraway at The Prince’s Trust Awards, where Schofield was nowhere to be seen.

Phil, an ambassador for the trust, was conspicuously absent while Holly appeared unfazed as she smiled and posed for stunning photographs on the red carpet.

Her new burst of confidence was echoed in Tuesday’s programme, when experts said she portrayed ‘industrial strength perkiness’.

But reports said the couple appeared tense backstage before the episode went live. 

It came as This Morning saw its viewers plunge by 170,000 in a week amid fans blasting the couple’s awkward on-air personas.

May 17 – A very awkward kiss, the butt of politicians’ jokes and Holly gets an early reprieve

Body language expert Judi James called the moment ‘rather awkward’, adding that it was ‘instigated by Holly after a flurry of shyness signals that included stroking her hair and placing one hand over her mouth as she giggled’

The next day, it was reported that Holly was considering quitting from her role on This Morning due to feeling ‘trapped’ by the breakdown of her friendship with her co-presenter. 

Meanwhile Phil’s job was said to be under threat, with suggestions he would be axed from the show by the summer as bosses panicked over the loss of ratings. 

Keen-eyed viewers were quick to spot a very awkward kiss between Holly and Phil as she left the show early to go and meet King Charles III.

At the start of the episode, Phil lauded his co-star for her glamorous look at the Trust Awards, before she announced her surprise engagement.

‘I have put my posh dress on today because later on this afternoon I am heading to Buckingham Palace and there the King will be and we will get to introduce the winners,’ she said.

Read more: Amanda Holden appears to take thinly-veiled SWIPE at Phillip Schofield with cryptic post 

‘So you are off mid dayish and I am holding the fort?’ asked Phil, to which Holly replied: ‘Yes you are, thank you very much.’

Fans took to social media to joke that Holly ‘looked happy’ to be able to leave the episode early. 

It was also reported that Louise Van Der Velde, who has appeared on This Morning to give love life advice, also launched a blistering attack on Phil, dubbing him the ‘monster of daytime TV.’

She added: ‘He is rude, people have to sit still and speak when they are spoken to – it’s just a very aggressive attitude.’

Most concerningly, the row even made it into the House of Commons as the death knell on the duo’s presenting sounded.

Attacking the Labour party during PMQs, Deputy PM Oliver Dowden called Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner the ‘Holly and Phil of British politics.’ 

May 18 – This Morning haemorrhages more viewers Tim Schofield jailed for 12 years

Tension: The TV presenter, 61, has bowed out of the show following reports of a feud with his co-host Holly Willoughby

On what would turn out to be Phil’s last ever This Morning show, he and Holly were joined on the sofa by a robot – which handily described This Morning as the ‘UK’s number one breakfast show’.

The light-hearted skit prompted a barrage of jokes from viewers, with one tweeting: ‘Phil’s replacement revealed at the start of the show – a robot! You couldn’t make it up…’

A second wrote: ‘The robot would be a preference to these two robotic people presenting, although all three are equally pre-programmable.’

It was not all light-hearted for This Morning, however, as it was announced Holly and Phil had lost another 100,000 viewers in the space of a week. 

And in a parallel to where the feud allegedly started, Phil’s paedophile brother Tim Schofield was jailed for 12 years for 11 sexual offences against a teenage boy.

May 19 – ITV faces crisis as ‘Fab Four’ looks set to end

Over the weekend, ITV faced a large-scale crisis as Ant and Dec announced they would be taking a break from Saturday Night Takeaway – marking the temporary end of the other duo which makes up the channel’s ‘Fab Four’.

Insiders at ITV say bosses fear they have failed to bring through a new generation of stars as viewers grow tired of their ‘Fab Four’ – Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and Ant and Dec.

The Geordies’ shock decision to pause their long running series comes after underwhelming ratings for the latest season – and as the feud between Holly and Phil saw This Morning viewers switch off.

May 26 – Admits affair with young This Morning colleague while he was still married 

In a bombshell statement to the Daily Mail, the veteran TV presenter admitted that he and the man began a relationship that was more than a friendship, while he was married to Stephanie Lowe (left, pictured in 2020)

In a bombshell statement to the Daily Mail, the 61-year-old TV star admitted to having the relationship with a man during his marriage, and had previously denied the affair when asked about it by his agent. 

Talent agency YMU dropped the former This Morning presenter after 35 years citing that Schofield had previously lied about the affair when asked about it. 

The former This Morning presenter also apologised via the Daily Mail for ‘misleading’ the newspaper on the story, which was reported earlier this month. 

In the statement, he said: ‘Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than a just a friendship. 

That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over…

‘I am painfully conscious that I have lied to my employers at ITV, to my colleagues and friends, to my agents, to the media and therefore the public and most importantly of all to my family. 

‘I am so very, very sorry, as I am for having been unfaithful to my wife…’

Schofield confirmed that he would be giving up his role at the upcoming British Soap Awards and resigning from ITV with immediate effect.

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