“This Morning” anchors Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield – the U.K.’s answer to Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest – have gone their separate ways in a shock split.
Schofield announced on Saturday he would be stepping down from the show. In his statement he implied the decision had not entirely been his.
“I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on ‘This Morning,’” he said in a post on Instagram. “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.”
Colloquially known as “Holly and Phil,” the duo, whose professional relationship stretches back almost two decades and encompasses multiple shows (as well as “This Morning” they also host “Dancing on Ice” together), will no longer work together on the ITV daytime juggernaut. It is unclear whether they will reunite for “Dancing on Ice,” which traditionally broadcasts in the winter months.
In a statement also posted on Instagram, Willoughby wrote: “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.”
ITV have not yet commented on the split or confirmed who is set to replace Schofield on “This Morning.”
Cracks in the partnership are believed to have begun appearing last September, when the duo were accused of “queue jumping” after they were spotted at Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state in the VIP line. Hundreds of thousands of people – including celebrities such as David Beckham and even Schofield and Willoughby’s ITV stablemate Susannah Reid (who presents “Good Morning Britain”) – waited in line for over 12 hours to pay their respects to the monarch.
So when the “This Morning” hosts were spotted on the BBC’s 24-hour live feed of the event with lanyards around their neck and apparently in the VIP line, there was outrage on social media. So intense was the anger directed at the duo that “This Morning’s” Instagram feed addressed the controversy – saying Schofield and Willoughby had been there as part of a segment they were filming – and ITV CEO Caroline McCall even stepped in to defend them publicly, saying their jobs were safe.
Any tension was then exacerbated last month after Schofield found himself embroiled in his younger brother’s trial for sexual assault. Timothy Schofield was found guilty of eleven charges related to sexually assaulting a child between 2016 and 2019. Yesterday he was jailed for 12 years.
During the trial the court heard that Timothy Schofield had confessed his crimes to his older brother two months before criminal proceedings started, to which the presenter had replied: “I don’t want you to tell me any more…You’ve got to stop, just never do it again. Regardless how that happened, it must never happen again.”
Schofield took a leave of absence during the trial and for two weeks afterwards before returning to “This Morning” on April 17. However Willoughby was not there to take her place beside him on the famous “This Morning” sofa on her co-anchors return after she claimed to have come down with shingles, requiring her to stay off for a week. Rumors that all is not right between Schofield and his long-time presenting partner have swirled in the British tabloids ever since.
The claims of tension in the relationship were all the more shocking given the duo are believed to have been great friends away from the camera, often vacationing together with their spouses and children. Willoughby was also by Schofield’s side when he publicly came out as gay on the show three years ago. “I’ve never been more proud of my friend than I am today,” she said during the segment as she reached over to clasp his hand. “We’re going to do this together.”
Schofield and Willoughby, who both began their career as children’s TV presenters, were each well known in their own right before first partnering in 2006 to host “Dancing on Ice,” which marked the start of their 17-year-long partnership. But it was their work on daytime magazine show “This Morning,” which they began co-hosting in 2009, that cemented their place in the public consciousness, making them two of the most powerful figures in British television.
How their careers will weather the rupture of their long-term presenting partnership remains to be seen.