Phillip Schofield has admitted to having a relationship with a much younger man who worked with him on This Morning, and later lying about it.
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. The ex-TV presenter describes this as ‘unwise but not illegal’.
Schofield further confessed that he lied to his employer ITV, to his colleagues, his friends and his agents at the management firm YMU.
He also lied to The Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail’s sister paper, which first exclusively described his relationship with the younger man earlier this month.
In his grovelling apology, Schofield said: ‘I am making this statement via the Daily Mail, to whom I have already apologised personally for misleading, through my lawyer who I also misled, about a story [sic] which they wanted to write about me a few days ago.
‘The first thing I want to say is: I am deeply sorry for having lied to them, and to many others about a relationship that I had with someone working on This Morning. I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning.
‘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…
‘I am resigning from ITV with immediate effect, expressing my immense gratitude to them for all the amazing opportunities that they have given me.
‘I will reflect on my very bad judgement in both participating in the relationship and then lying about it.’
The Mail is aware of the younger man’s identity, but has chosen not to name him.
Schofield’s extraordinary statement concludes weeks of increasingly fevered speculation in both the TV industry and the wider country about the future of his career, following his sudden departure from the This Morning sofa earlier this month.
His exit from ITV apparently scotches plans for the ‘prime time’ show he was allegedly offered by the network as consolation for leaving This Morning after more than 20 years on the show.
Schofield had been due to present the prestigious British Soap Awards next week – a role he had performed since 2006. His statement confirms he will no longer do so.
Even before his bombshell statement last night, TV sources were furious at the prospect of him presenting the Awards.
One of his critics called the decision ‘unbelievable’. Another said: ‘We do not want him, thank you,’ while a third exclaimed: ‘Are you freaking kidding me?!’
Hours before Schofield’s statement last night, I had received a phone call telling me that the entertainer had been unceremoniously dumped by YMU, the fearsome agency that had represented him for more than 25 years.
‘It was time to end the partnership,’ said my source.
YMU counts Ant and Dec, Claudia Winkleman and Davina McCall among its clients — and is often described as the real power behind ITV.
Without these slick PR professionals behind him, and in the aftermath of this new statement, the chances of him returning to the small screen any time soon look bleak.
So: is his career finished?
All this week, Schofield’s spinners had done their best to rescue him, optimistically trying to claim that he retained a bright future in TV. A comfortable berth could even be found for him soon at the BBC, they claimed.
The national broadcaster, claimed Team Phil, had Schofield ‘in [its] sights’ as a contestant on the ever-popular dance show Strictly.
They added that he was the bookies’ favourite to replace Rylan Clark on the Strictly spin-off, It Takes Two.
Auntie, ‘would love to have him on board,’ said sources close to the presenter. ‘Phil has been asked before, but this time the offer was more aggressive.’
Those claims seem frankly absurd in light of Schofield’s new and shocking revelations.
No sooner did these outlandish boasts emerge than the BBC moved to rubbish them. One report quoted a Corporation figure saying there is ‘more chance of Gordon the Gopher appearing on the dancefloor’ — a caustic reference to the glove-puppet that served as Schofield’s mascot on children’s TV in the Eighties and Nineties.
Another senior BBC insider told me: ‘The suggestion that Phillip could join the BBC is laughable. It’s complete fantasy. At no point has Schofield’s name been mentioned by anyone at the Corporation.
‘With the exception of popping up as a talking head in some anniversary shows relating to children’s programming, Schofield has not appeared on the BBC for many years in a presenting capacity — and that is not about to change,’ they said.
This week, I discussed Schofield’s career prospects with multiple high-powered figures in the TV industry.
Not a single one was optimistic about his future – even before Schofield admitted his ‘bad judgement’ in embarking on an on-off relationship with a much younger man.
As a reportedly capricious and occasionally rather petulant presenter, Schofield, 61, has made a number enemies over the years.
He spent four decades working in TV, and many former runners and junior members of production teams are now senior executives on major networks, responsible for commissioning programmes and hiring staff.
‘People have long memories in this game,’ one source told me this week. ‘He was pretty difficult to work with back then and now we are in charge, we haven’t forgotten.’
Another TV executive said: ‘It’s a perfect example of that old saying: ‘Be nice to people on the way up, because you’ll need them on the way down.’
‘If only Phil had treated people better in his career, things might not be looking so tricky for him right now.’
None of Schofield’s enemies, perhaps, is more powerful than Holly Willoughby, his co-host on This Morning for 14 years.
Willoughby remains furious with Schofield, I’m told — not least over his failure to tell her the full details of his paedophile brother’s appalling activities, or even to warn her about the scandal of his trial as it approached.
Last week, Timothy Schofield, 54, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a litany of sex crimes against an underage boy. A rapprochement between Holly and Phil is currently unthinkable.
Even if Schofield did dream of joining the BBC, Willoughby’s husband, TV producer Dan Baldwin — described as ‘very, very powerful’ in the industry — works closely with the Corporation and is unlikely to butter up the BBC’s bosses on Shofield’s behalf.
One Corporation source tells me: ‘Major programmes such as Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, The Wheel and the highly anticipated Gladiators reboot are all under the stewardship of Hungry Bear, Dan’s production company. Plus Holly was invited by BBC telly chief Charlotte Moore to accompany her to the Variety Club awards in November last year and present on various shows. It’s clear where the BBC’s loyalties lie.’
It is, all told, a lamentable change in fortunes for Schofield, who began his career in 1985 as a CBBC presenter in a tiny studio known as the Broom Cupboard, and later moved to presenting Saturday-morning magazine show Going Live! in 1987.
He then quit for ITV where he moved into hosting adult-orientated programmes such as Schofield’s Quest, Schofield’s TV Gold, Ten Ball and Talking Telephone Numbers. He was paid about £730,000 a year to present This Morning, according to reports, while his ‘golden handcuffs’ deal tying him to ITV was said to be worth another £5 million.
And while senior ITV executive Kevin Lygo had warm words for Schofield in a statement released to announce his departure, words, as they say, are cheap.
Lygo described the presenter as ‘hands-down, one of the best broadcasters of his generation’ and gushingly thanked him for ‘two decades worth of absolutely terrific television on the This Morning sofa’.
Lygo also promised a ‘brand-new, peak-time series’ for the star. Yet following last night’s statement, that now seems all-but-impossible.
There is also speculation that the purported ‘show’ was merely a negotiated clause in Schofield’s exit package, which sources tell me ‘got complicated’ amid much wrangling over the details, not least the financial settlement.
One ITV source tells me: ‘You’ve got to wonder if this ‘show’ even exists. It is very ‘Kevin Lygo’ to do something like that: offer a sweetener to get a deal done.’
And while Lygo has, until now, remained publicly loyal to Schofield — unlike some other ITV executives who lost their patience with the star — even he is said to have grown tired of his recent behaviour.
An insider said: ‘Phil didn’t exactly move with the times. It’s 2023.’
Channel 4 has yet to comment on whether it would take him on — but, frankly, that too now seems highly unlikely.
As for Channel 5, I’m again told that bosses have ‘absolutely no interest’ in working with him.
And that, unfortunately for the broadcaster, seems to be an all-too common theme.
Mary Bekhait, the Group CEO of YMU Group, said: ‘Honesty and integrity are core values for YMU’s whole business, defining everything we do. Talent management is a relationship based entirely on trust.
‘This week, we have learned important new information about our client Phillip Schofield.
‘These facts contradicted what Phillip had previously told YMU, as well as the external advisors we had brought in to support him.
‘As a result, on Thursday we agreed to part company with Phillip, with immediate effect.’
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