Phillip Schofield missed a crucial word in the sign off of his final ever show – suggesting he knew he would be saying goodbye for the last time.
While Holly Willoughby gave viewers a cheery ‘See you Monday!’ – Phil, 61, looked resilient as he simply said: ‘Bye!’.
The duo’s reign as the star couple of the ITV show ended today as Phil quit after 21 years.
As his final appearance hosting This Morning ended, body language expert Judi James said: ‘Holly did begin to finger-pick, Phil kept his hands in his pockets, bounced on his heels with a gleam in his eye and a mouth-clamp.
‘He kept the lips clamped but raised his chin with the corners of his mouth pulled down for the farewell, which could be a signal of resilience.
‘Holly was the one that said ”See you Monday!” with a perky head-tilt, raising her left hand in a wave that Phil did not mirror and he just called out ”bye!”.
‘As the camera pulled away their smiles looked as incongruent as the robot’s. Phil stepped back away from Holly while she moved straight across to talk to the shopping expert and throw her arms out to hug her.’
The TV presenter bowed out following reports of a feud with his co-presenter and former best friend, saying that the channel ‘has decided the current situation can’t go on’.
The pair stood awkwardly by as a robot introduced their last show together.
For his last appearance on Thursday May 18 the introductory segment was taken over by a robot – prompting Twitter users to ask whether the machine was ‘Phil’s replacement’.
Holly and Phil presenting This Morning on Thursday, where they opened the show with a discussion about Harry and Meghan
Thursday’s show opened with a brief speech by the robot, which described This Morning as ‘the UK’s number one breakfast show’
The light-hearted skit prompted a barrage of jokes from viewers on social media
The animatronic host – called Ameca – 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.’
Body language expert Judi James described the robot as a ‘welcome ice-breaker’ for the presenting duo.
‘After their awkward, toe-curling body language moments this week it was the best gag to get Holly and Phil replaced by a robot this morning,’ she told MailOnline on Thursday.
‘It was hilariously obvious that the robot’s surreally-realistic body language was a masterclass of measured, authentic calm confidence next to the tension from the desk beside it.
‘The robot did provide and ice-breaker for Holly and Phil, with Phil pulling a fear face and Holly even screaming and trying to clamber over the desk to get away from it.
‘The robot even did a tie-sign to the viewers, tapping the side of its nose in a collusion gesture.’
ITV bosses were ‘beside themselves’ on learning that the audience had dropped an almost unprecedented 20 per cent from 894,000 last week to 724,000 for Monday’s episode.
READ MORE: Phillip Schofield QUITS This Morning after 21 years
Feud: Phillip’s dramatic departure from This Morning comes after reports that he and Holly hardly speak off-camera (Phillip pictued on 16 May, 2023)
But viewing figures for Tuesday averaged 663,000, up from 622,730 for the same day last week. The audience peaked at 742,000 and 743,00 consecutively.
The final show came shrouded in embarrassment for Holly and Phil when the deputy prime minister used reports of their off-screen feud as fuel for an attack on Labour in the Commons.
Oliver Dowden, standing in for Rishi Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions, described opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner as ‘the Phil and Holly of British politics’.
Explaining his statement, Mr Dowden said: ‘All lovey dovey on the surface, they turn it on for the cameras, but as soon as they’re off, it’s a different story. They’re at each other’s throats.’ One ITV insider described the MP’s comments as a ‘cheap shot’.
The embarrassing episode saw another crisis meeting at the broadcaster, with one source saying: ‘Enough is enough.’
They added: ‘You know things have got really serious when they’re mentioned in the House of Commons.
‘This is no longer just a bit of beef on Twitter.
‘Those upstairs know they have to act – they just don’t know what to do.’
Another ITV insider described the situation between the two presenters at that point as being like a ‘runaway train that cannot be stopped’.
The fallout began in September when the pair were criticised after avoiding the queue for the Queen’s lying in state.
Oliver Dowden, standing in for Rishi Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions, described opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner as ‘the Phil and Holly of British politics’
Analysing Thursday’s episode, Ms James said Phil appeared ‘more relaxed’ than he did on the previous two shows.
She told MailOnline: ‘His pose was all casual angles, from the tilted head and shoulders to the bent knee and the asymmetric smile, and his hands looked as though they were hanging casually from his pockets rather than being stuffed there.
‘In contrast, Holly’s pose looked straight to attention, with her torso upright and her arms straight to her sides.
‘She looked shocked at Phil’s sudden, playful ”Tell me all about it!”, which came with a dramatic circling of the head and a lift of the brows as he twisted his neck at a 45-degree angle to look back at her in a wide-opened-eyes stare.
‘Holly’s ”I had a lovely day yesterday” received another flattering comment from Phil that looked overkill enough to hint at a teeniest dab of sarcasm. ”You looked gorgeous’,’ came with a raised chin and closed eyes.’
Ms James noticed another change in the pair’s body language when Holly announced she was leaving early for the Palace.
‘Holly clasped her hands in a barrier gesture here but her pulled-in-chin smile suggested self-pride while Phil flashed a rather forced-looking grin in her direction.
”’It’s fine” he told the camera, with the corners of his mouth curling down.’
History: The presenting duo (pictured in November 2009) have worked together for more than a decade after Holly took over from Fern Britton as Phillip’s co-host back in 2009
Support: Holly was also described as Phillip’s ‘rock’ when he came out as gay live on This Morning in 2020
The body language expert said the duo’s behaviour during a section of the show about lawncare – which prompted several suggestive jokes – was particularly notable.
‘As Holly bent to peer at the video clip from the garden she nudged Phil quite hard with her elbow as though either sharing a joke or inviting him to mirror her,’ she said.
‘Were they indulging in a nudge-fight? If so it could signal two options, either a sighting of a tiny scuffle or a moment of genuine shared and private fun between the couple.’
In a statement released on Saturday, Phil said: ‘I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story.
‘Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind.
‘I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love.
‘So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future.
‘I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me – especially This Morning’s amazing viewers – and I’ll see you all for the Soap Awards next month.’
Phillip said: ‘I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future’
Holly shared her own statement which said: ‘I want to take this opportunity to thank fim for all his knowledge, his expereince and his hmour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him’
Holly Willoughby said: ‘It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him.’
Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director, Media and Entertainment said: ‘Phillip is hands down one of the best broadcasters of his generation and we thank him for his two decades worth of absolutely terrific television on the This Morning sofa.
‘This Morning is made by one of the best and most diligent teams in television, who produce over 12 hours of live television each week.’
‘We look forward to continuing our relationship with Phillip starting with The British Soap Awards in June and a brand new peak time series to come.’
Holly uploaded a separate statement to her Instagram account which said: ‘Hi everyone… it’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank fim for all his knowledge, his expereince and his hmour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him.’
Holly will return to This Morning on Monday 5th June having taken an early half term holiday starting Monday 22nd May.