Holly Willoughby won the battle to remain on This Morning over Phillip Schofield because she is ITV’s ‘great hope’ but viewers are unlikely to have seen the last of her co-host, experts declared today.
Britain’s top commercial broadcaster has backed the show’s female star after reports of a rift led to the departure of Mr Schofield after more than 20 years on the show.
Holly is close friends with Alison Hammond as well as several of the other favourites to replace Schofield, including Dermot O’Leary and Rylan Clark, who announced a break from his BBC Radio 2 show on the day Phil announced his departure.
She also has the full support of Martin Frizell, This Morning’s veteran editor. He is keen to pair her with Ms Hammond, the former showbiz reporter who he promoted to the Friday presenter slot two years ago.
Schofield, though, had the support of Frizell’s boss, ITV’s head of daytime Emma Gormley. Insiders cited Schofield and Ms Gormley as the ‘losers’ in this. Phil is also said to have the ear of Kevin Lygo, the ‘incredibly loyal’ Director of Television at ITV.
He also hired Gordon Smart, a former Sun showbiz columnist and occasional Good Morning Britain host, to manage the crisis. It raised eyebrows because Mr Smart had once advised Holly.
Holly and Phil have enjoyed support from inside and outside ITV in recent weeks
Who could replace Phillip Schofield on This Morning, according to bookmakers
PR guru Mark Borkowski told MailOnline that Schofield’s abrupt exit shows ITV has backed Holly Willoughby – but he understands they will have made promises to Phillip Schofield that his career there is not over.
He said: ‘Phil’s departure is a chance for the show to be renewed and they are hoping it will be Holly Willoughby to do it. When she returns in a fortnight the show will be sparkly and fresh with an emphasis on life after Phil.
‘Holly Willoughby is now ITV’s great hope. Advertisers would rather put their trust in Holly instead of Phil because of the negativity surrounding him. He will be licking his wounds and going away quietly, hoping that Kevin Lygo and ITV hold true to their promises and give him more work.
‘Don’t write him off. As a rare figure who can front live TV, be it awards ceremonies and major events, I believe he will remain part of the ITV family as long as the negative stories dissipate’.
He added: ‘Keven Lygo is incredibly loyal to people – he knows Schofield is a talent, trained at the BBC and crucially someone who can do live TV. Not many people can do that. It’s an incredibly tough job’.
Former This Morning host Eamonn Holmes tore into Phillip Schofield for claiming he was leaving of his own accord after 20 years, declaring: ‘He was sacked’, as the crisis-hit show kicked off with a short tribute to the star today.
The GB News breakfast show presenter also suggested Holly Willoughby was being duplicitous when she claimed to be sad that Mr Schofield was leaving the hit ITV show after two decades at the helm, adding: ‘They deserve each other’.
During the newspaper review, when Isabel Webster said Phil was ‘stepping down’, Eamonn raged: ‘Oh please just stop this. 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’.
He then went on to mimic Holly and said: ‘And she says: ‘Oh, the couch will not be the same without him being there’. Well she wanted him not there. So what is she moaning about. They deserve each other I suppose’.
He went on: ‘Holly is being as false as he is and nobody is talking about the elephant in the room.
‘She says ‘I thank him for all his knowledge, experience and humour’. All the things that she didn’t have when she came to the show. Well it’s true! I would call that stabbing in the back.
‘I could give you a list of the lack of kindness and lack of awareness from both of them. How they would socialise, and the people around them. You just have to look at my phone, full of people who are glad to see the back of the two of them’.
Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary filled in as interim This Morning hosts after Phillip Schofield’s exit left the show in turmoil.
Eamonn Holmes raged at Holly and Phil today
Alison and Dermot, who co-host the show on Fridays, were on This Morning today (pictured) as Phillip Schofield left and Holly Willoughby took an early holiday. The show began with a short tribute to Phil before moving on
The relationship between the two presenters, once feted as the closest on TV, had broken down, according to reports
Former This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield is said to be ‘completely broken’ by his brutal ITV axing (pictured with his mother, Pat, on Sunday)
Opening the broadcast, Hammond said: ‘We can’t start today’s show without paying tribute to the man who spent the last two decades sitting on the This Morning sofa. Phillip Schofield.’
O’Leary added: ‘So as a show, everyone on and off screen at ITV and This Morning on 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 continued: ‘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.’
Holly Willoughby is taking an early half-term holiday and will return in a fortnight on June 5, ITV has said.
Schofield, who still wears a wedding ring, is said to have consulted his ex-wife Stephanie, 59, and their two daughters, Molly and Ruby, before stepping down with ‘immediate effect’ after more than 20 years on the programme.
He was seen in Cornwall with his mother Pat, 85, yesterday afternoon. He was spotted on the phone, vaping and looking out to sea while in a car park for two hours, onlookers said.
ITV will give him a payoff of six months’ wages, believed to be in excess of £300,000, but the broadcaster, 61, is said to be ‘completely broken’ and has accused his bosses of showing him ‘zero respect’ after he was axed amid his deteriorating relationship with his former ‘rock’ Ms Willoughby.
TV will give him a payoff of six months’ wages, believed to be in excess of £300,000, but the broadcaster, 61, is said to be ‘completely broken’ and has accused his bosses of showing him ‘zero respect’ after he was axed amid his deteriorating relationship with his former ‘rock’ Ms Willoughby.
ITV confirmed that Alison, 48, and Dermot, 49, who already host the show on Fridays, will appear on the sofa this morning – as ITV golden girl Alison, a close friend of Holly’s, is high up on the list of potential replacements.
Regular viewers are wondering if they will mention Phil’s sudden exit, announced on Saturday, meaning there will be no farewell show for him.
But despite the golden goodbye, the presenter feels ‘let down’ by the channel – which has now offered him just one primetime hosting gig.
The source said: ‘Phil feels he has been shown zero respect and he is devastated by how this has played out.
‘He thinks the way he was forced to step down was so unjust and he feels completely broken by how this situation has been handled.’
The source added that Schofield feels he has been ‘knifed without proper consultation’ and that he had spoken to his mother, Pat, and ex-wife Stephanie before he agreed to step back.
He also spoke to daughters Molly, a talent agent at his management company YMU, and Ruby.
‘Phil has dedicated over 20 years to that show and for it all to end this way has been incredibly upsetting for him,’ the source explained.
But he has received messages of support from industry insiders, the source continued.
‘He has privately been sent a number of messages of support from friends in the industry.
‘It means a great deal to him that people are taking the time to reach out.’
Phil, a regular face across ITV shows for over two decades, will now be limited to hosting just one primetime show.
Insiders have told The Mirror that the presenter will return with either Dancing on Ice, The Cube or 5 Gold Rings.
After days of reports that Phil faced the axe at ITV, he took to Instagram on Saturday to reveal that he had ‘agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect’.
‘I’ve always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story,’ he wrote online.
Phil spent two hours vaping and looking out to sea as he made phone calls from his vehicle
Phil appeared downcast and glum as he made phone calls the day after he was forced out from presenting This Morning
A glum-looking Schofield was spotted over the weekend after his last appearance on the show
‘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 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.’
The relationship between the two presenters, once feted as the closest on TV, had broken down and reports suggest that Phil had not told Holly about his brother’s trial.
The breakdown of the partnership is said to date from her split from Phil’s talent agency, YMU, three years ago. She later won a £1million payout from the agency.
Holly had reportedly grown tired of YMU’s ‘blokey’ culture, and decided to leave and start her own all-female company, Roxy Management.
Phil now has just ‘tatters’ of his friendship with Holly left after he failed to tell her about his brother’s child sexual abuse case.
Timothy Schofield was jailed for 12 years on Friday after being found guilty of sexual offences, including some involving a teenage boy.
Tension: The TV presenter, 61, bowed out of the show following reports of a feud with his co-host Holly Willoughby
The Mail on Sunday first revealed the co-stars’ relationship was under strain after they were accused of jumping the huge line to pay their respects to the Queen as she lay in state last year.
But it was the fallout over Phil’s brother’s trial that was reportedly the final blow to the long and close friendship.
An ITV source told the Mirror over the weekend: ‘Phil’s fate was decided on Friday. It was a unanimous decision that he had to go.
‘He was upset, but firm that if he was going to walk away he wanted to keep his roles on The Cube, the British Soap Awards, and Dancing on Ice – crucially, with or without Holly.
‘It has all been worked out in the smoothest way possible, but behind the scenes he has told friends he has been hung out to dry. And his friendship with Holly is now in tatters.
‘It is hard to see how it could recover. The fact he chose to pointedly thank people who supported him – and the viewers – without mentioning her says it all.’
Phillip left the show after frantic meetings with his representatives and ITV’s most senior chiefs.
They agreed a trade-off in which he was promised he would be able to host a new show solo and that conversations around existing shows would continue, The Mirror reported.
He issued a pointed statement on social media thanking fans for their support, but failed to mention Holly at all.
Holly and Phil were accused of ‘jumping the queue’ to see the late Queen lying in state in Westminster Hall last year
It is understood that Phil, who was described as ‘a broken man’, was digging his heels in to stay right up until the end, and that it took ‘much persuasion’ for him to agree to terminate his contract immediately. It means last Thursday was his final appearance on This Morning.
An insider told The Sun : ‘ITV bosses had to choose which horse to back – Phil or Holly. And it was clear where their loyalties lay.’
They added: ‘Holly is the real winner in all of this as she has emerged victorious and classy.’
As news broke of Phil’s departure from the show, Holly posted: ‘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.’
Holly is expected to spend her time off over the next two weeks with her family.
In 2020, Ms Willoughby, having grown tired of YMU’s ‘blokey’ culture, decided to leave and start her own all-female company, Roxy Management
ITV is expected to announce a replacement for Phil over the next few weeks but guest presenters will fill in with Holly until that point.
Phil is expected to return to screens to present the British Soap Awards on June 3, alongside a new peak-time series.
Who will take over as Holly’s co-host is now being hotly debated, with ITV’s search underway to find a replacement for the prestigious role.
Alison is currently the bookmaker Ladbrokes favourite to take on the role, giving her 2/1 odds.
She rose to fame in 2002 as a Big Brother contestant and joined This Morning later that year as a reporter.
Throughout her two decades on ITV she has been applauded for her ability to reduce even the biggest A-listers into fits of laughter.
Martin Frizell, This Morning’s veteran editor, is keen to pair Holly with Alison, who he promoted to a presenter role two years ago.
Dermot, who has appeared as a presenter on the show throughout the years, has been given a 4/1 odds by Ladbrokes.
There are also other contenders in the running to nab a permanent slot on one of Britain’s most popular daytime television programmes.
The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes and her husband JLS star Marvin Humes, are amongst those in the running, as well as Rylan Clark, Josie Gibson and Gino D’Acampo.
ITV said in the interim, Holly will continue to present the show with ‘members of the This Morning family’.
Despite sharing the couch for 13 years, Phil’s statement announcing his exit from the show made no mention of his former ‘bestie’ Holly.
Meanwhile Holly’s statement, which thanks her former co-presenter for his ‘knowledge, experience and humour’, has been widely analysed.
Posted to Instagram, it featured a pink heart emoji, which sources who know Holly told the Daily Mail is meant to signify ‘girl power’ – potentially taking on a new meaning as Phil was evicted from the show.
Phillip Schofield’s exit statement in full
‘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.
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’
‘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.’
Holly Willoughby’s statement in full
Holly shared her own statement which said: ‘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’
‘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.’