The lie got too big for both of us, says crestfallen Phillip Schofield in an interview laying bare his torment
- READ MORE: There’s NO WAY Willoughby will be forced out if ITV bosses stay put
In two extraordinary interviews, Phillip Schofield has spoken for the first time about his career-ending affair with a much younger man who worked on This Morning.
Looking haunted, his hands were shaking through much of his chat with the BBC, while he was said to have been ‘furiously vaping’ as he spoke to a newspaper.
Anguished Schofield, 61 – who had hosted This Morning since 2002 before he dramatically quit ITV altogether a week ago after admitting he had lied about his relationship with the man – said he has ‘lost everything’ and believes his career is ‘over’.
‘I have to talk about television in the past tense, which breaks my heart,’ he told the BBC. ‘What am I going to do with my days? I see nothing ahead of me but blackness, sadness regret, remorse and guilt. I did something very wrong, and then I lied about it consistently.’
He said the criticism he’s faced since admitting the affair has had a ‘catastrophic effect’, adding: ‘Do you want me to die? Because that’s where I am. I have lost everything.’
Anguished Schofield, 61, said he has ‘lost everything’ and believes his career is ‘over’
In the interviews, Schofield, who was also dropped by his talent agency YMU after his admission to the Mail about the ‘unwise but not illegal relationship’, said he was ‘utterly broken and ashamed’.
FIRST SEXUAL CONTACT ‘WAS IN HIS DRESSING ROOM’
Schofield told the BBC that the young man, who worked as a runner for a short period on This Morning, was 20 when he first had any kind of sexual contact with him.
He told The Sun they had become friends but in 2017 – three years before he came out as gay and separated from wife Stephanie Lowe after 27 years – ‘something happened that just changed it’.
There was ‘a consensual moment’ in Schofield’s dressing room after a show and ‘it was mutual’.
Schofield told the BBC that the young man (pictured far left), who worked as a runner for a short period on This Morning, was 20 when he first had any kind of sexual contact with him
READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE As Holly Willoughby flies back into the storm after Phillip Schofield’s shocking interviews over his younger lover, this is why there’s NO WAY she’ll be forced out if her ITV bosses stay put
He said he did not have a ‘love affair’ with the man and that ‘it was not a relationship, we were not boyfriends, we were mates’.
He said ‘it wasn’t feelings’ he was getting but it was ‘more like mates: excitement’. He added: ‘I was really struggling with my sexuality at that time in the build up to what happened.’ The pair only had ‘five or six romantic encounters’ over a period of around six months.
He said they met at Schofield’s apartment in south-east London only once after he phoned the young man to invite him over for a beer.
He also denied using ITV money to pay for taxis for the man, saying: ‘I don’t have an ITV account.’
Schofield said he had ‘no excuse’ for what happened, ‘no one did anything wrong apart from me’ and ‘I was unprofessional, one time, in a 41-year career’.
He added that he and the young man ‘stupidly’ thought that ‘nobody knew’ about them.
Earlier this week, ITV said the man was 19 when he did work experience at This Morning in 2015, and 20 years old when he applied and secured a job as a runner on the show.
He later moved to Loose Women in 2019 and left ITV in 2021.
‘I’M NOT A GROOMER’
The presenter first met the man, then aged 15, when he was invited to open a drama school.
‘Immediately or sometime’ after, an unnamed mutual friend said, ‘will you follow him on Twitter, because he’s a fan?’ Schofield told the BBC. He agreed.
He said he follows 11,300 people on Twitter and in all the time he has been on the social media platform ‘there has never been any whiff of impropriety’.
The pair were ‘hardly’ in touch, but the young man later got in contact to ask ‘if he could visit the studios, work experience-type of thing’, which Schofield helped him to do. He said the man was 19 when he had first expressed an interest in a television career.
The presenter first met the man, then aged 15, when he was invited to open a drama school
READ MORE: JAN MOIR: Phillip Schofield wasted no time in playing the victim during his interview with the BBC but it’s his wife I feel sorry for
Asked if there was ‘any sense in which you were flirting with him’ in the messages, he replied: ‘No.’
He confirmed he did help the young man put a showreel together, but said he was then given a job at This Morning ‘on his own merits because he was very good’.
Schofield shook his head when asked by the BBC’s Amol Rajan if they had sent pictures of themselves to each other when the young man was aged between 15 and 18. He said their messages were ‘just work-related, just career advice’. It never came across to Schofield as an abuse of power ‘because we’d become mates’.
Schofield told The Sun that he knew photos of him and the young man at the drama school circulating on Twitter ‘look shocking’ but insisted: ‘I’m not a groomer.’
HOLLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE ROMANCE
Schofield apologised to Holly Willoughby, who presented This Morning with him for 14 years, for lying about his secret relationship and for tainting her public image.
‘I’ve lost my best friend. I let her down. I let that entire show down. I let the viewers down,’ he told The Sun. ‘Holly did not know [about the affair]. And she was one of the first texts that I sent to say, “I am so, so sorry that I lied to you.”
‘She didn’t reply and I understand why she didn’t reply. So if anyone is in any way linking Holly to this, that is absolutely, wholly untrue.’
Schofield apologised to Holly Willoughby, who presented This Morning with him for 14 years, for lying about his secret relationship with his colleague (centre) and for tainting her public image
BBC journalist Amol Rajan interviewing Schofield
He told the newspaper the pair have broken all contact, and said it was his paedophile brother’s imprisonment that made her distance herself from the friendship.
Timothy Schofield, 54, was jailed for 12 years last month for sexually abusing a schoolboy.
Describing Ms Willoughby, 42, as his ‘TV sister’, Schofield said he understood why she would think, ‘I have to step back from this’.
He told the BBC, when asked who on the This Morning team knew about his affair: ‘To my knowledge, I mean, somebody has to know something for there to be a rumour later on. I didn’t believe that anybody knew.’
COLLEAGUE ‘WASN’T MADE TO SIGN NDA’
He denied allegations that the young man was made to sign a gagging clause to keep him silent over their affair.
When the BBC’s Amol Rajan asked: ‘Do you know if he has signed a non-disclosure agreement preventing him from speaking?’ Schofield replied: ‘Did I make him sign an NDA? No, absolutely not.’
Earlier there were claims that the young man had ‘received a financial settlement’ from ITV after their affair ended.
But Schofield told The Sun that the man did not receive a penny in hush money.
He said the truth was coming out now as ‘the lie got too big for both of us’ – and that his ‘greatest apology’ over the fallout was to his former lover.
The presenter went on: ‘It has brought the greatest misery into his totally innocent life, his totally innocent family, his totally innocent friends. It has brought the greatest grief to them.”
He added: ‘I am deeply sorry and I apologise to him because I should have known better. I should have acted the way I have always acted. I should not have done it. I’m sorry. And I will for ever be sorry. I will die sorry. I am so deeply mortified.’ Schofield said he didn’t lie to protect his career, adding the young man didn’t want his name in public and ‘wanted his own life’.
‘The lies grew bigger and bigger and bigger. It was affecting both of us deeply. It got to the stage where it was out of control and for whatever cost, it had to stop,’ he said. ‘I have massive guilt, and regret. I’ve made a mistake, I’ve had an affair at work.’
When the BBC’s Amol Rajan asked: ‘Do you know if he has signed a non-disclosure agreement preventing him from speaking?’ Schofield replied: ‘Did I make him sign an NDA? No, absolutely not’
‘DAUGHTERS SAVED ME’
Schofield praised his daughters Molly, 29, and Ruby, 27, for ‘guarding him’ as he struggles to cope with the fall-out from the affair. He told the BBC: ‘Last week if my daughters hadn’t been there then I wouldn’t be here. And they’ve guarded me and won’t let me out of their sight, it’s like a weird numbness.
‘I know that’s a selfish point of view. But you come to a point where you just think, how much are you supposed to take?’
He also said telling his wife Ms Lowe about his affair ‘was the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had to have with her’.
He added: ‘She is extremely disappointed because I lied to her as well.’
He said telling his wife Ms Lowe about his affair ‘was the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had to have with her’
‘HOMOPHOBIA TO BLAME FOR CRITICISM’
The presenter suggested homophobia could be behind some of the criticism levelled at him over the age gap between him and his former lover.
He told The Sun: ‘Attraction is attraction. It’s no different in the gay world as it is in the heterosexual world. There shouldn’t be a difference. This is where homophobia comes in.’
He said when they first got together he was in his 50s, adding: ‘So yeah, there’s a difference.’ He said such age gaps were accepted if Leonardo DiCaprio dated a younger woman but ‘it’s not accepted if it’s in the gay world.’
Schofield added: ‘People are attracted to, or have relationships – wise or unwise – with people of different ages.
‘Yes, I see what it looks like from the outside world. I just want to apologise to everyone.’
Source: Read Full Article