Why has Phillip Schofield left This Morning? A timeline of his career on the show with Holly Willoughby
Phillip Schofield has announced he has left This Morning after 21 years of presenting the ITV show.
Schofield, 61, said on Instagram at the weekend that ITV bosses had “decided the current situation can’t go on” and that he will now host other shows.
His well-reported rift with co-presenter Holly Willoughby is thought to be behind his exit, with Schofield saying: “This Morning itself has become the story.”
Willoughby, 42, is set to return to the show in June after taking a holiday, meaning viewers were on Monday greeted by Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary, the usual Friday presenters.
Whether O’Leary or Hammond become a more regular fixture on the show has not yet been confirmed. ITV said Schofield will continue presenting next month’s British Soap Awards and “a new prime-time series,” details of which have not yet been announced.
Here is a timeline of his career on the show with Willoughby and the key incidents that contributed to the deterioration in their firm friendship.
Year zero on This Morning with Holly and Phil began in 2009. Schofield, then in his 40s, had hosted children’s and teenage programmes since the 1980s. However, he transitioned to shows for older audiences in the early 2000s.
His This Morning co-presenter when he replaced John Leslie was Fern Britton. But, when Britton left after a reported pay dispute, ITV executives replaced her with the younger Willoughby — then in her late 20s. She and Schofield had a natural chemistry on camera and a renowned TV partnership was born.
Phil and Holly / Holly and Phil had a golden and long-lasting period together that most other shows could only dream of. They were willing to get stuck in and send themselves up, while also having more serious debates.
Alongside them, resident chef Gino D’Acampo (“If my grandmother had wheels she would have been a bike”) provided some, perhaps unintentional at times, comedy. Overall, the show provided relief and refreshing viewing for ITV diehards after the more serious-toned Good Morning Britain.
Schofield also went that extra mile (and then some) when, in December 2014, he completed a 24-hour live TV charity marathon. Schofield began the challenge on This Morning and went on to appear on Loose Women, the ITV news and a weather bulletin, among other shows. This was in aid of ITV’s Text Santa appeal.
In 2020, Schofield announced live on the show that he was gay. He has been married to Stephanie Lowe since 1993 and has two daughters. The elder of the two, Molly, was born in 1993, while Ruby was born in 1996.
In coming out alongside Willoughby, Schofield introduced her as “his co-presenter” but “more importantly his friend”. He separated from Ms Lowe in 2020 and the pair reportedly live apart but are not divorced.
At the same time as his stunning announcement, reported cracks began to appear in his on-screen relationship with Willoughby when she started her own agency Roxy Management in 2020. This involved her splitting from YMU, which represents Schofield as well as ITV titans such as Ant & Dec and Simon Cowell. It meant the pair were now represented by two separate parties who clashed when Willoughby took legal action against her former representatives over her earnings.
This Morning was already easy fodder for tabloids such as the Daily Mail and the Sun. As such, with both agencies — according to the Guardian — increasingly willing to leak information to the press, more stories about the pair were published.
Schofield and Willoughby had already attracted occasional scrutiny, such as when they interviewed the then-prime minister David Cameron. Some people criticised Schofield for confronting Mr Cameron with what he said was a list of unconvicted paedophiles he had found online.
But they had never experienced a backlash on the scale they were met with in the week after the Queen’s death in September 2022. While thousands queued up for hours or even days to pay their respects to the late monarch, Willoughby and Schofield used a ‘VIP’ side entrance to enter Westminster Abbey.
Public anger intensified and a petition calling for them to be sacked was set up. As the Hull Daily Mail reported, the pair strongly denied claims they were “too posh to queue” and said they had been in Westminster Hall “strictly for the purpose of reporting on the event”. A This Morning voiceover also said: “Please know that we would never jump a queue”. Schofield later questioned the need to apologise for the incident.
Further stories emerged this year about tensions between the two presenters. After things came to a head in May, Schofield said Willoughby was “an incredible support".
During a rocky few weeks in April, Schofield had a break from the show after his brother Timothy was prosecuted over sex offences. Willoughby also missed shows after contracting shingles.
“We’re the best of friends,” Schofield said on May 11 in response to a Sun report their friendship was ‘cooling’. He said: “As always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone.”
But it appeared the damage had been done and, Schofield called it quits on May 21.
His Instagram post said: “Throughout my career in TV — including in 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.”
Willoughby responded with her own Instagram statement. “Hi everyone … 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,” she wrote. “The sofa won’t feel the same without him.”