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Daily Record
Tasha Hall & Charlotte McIntyre

EastEnders star says Phillip Schofield should step down as host of Soap Awards as it will be 'all about him'

EastEnders soap star Debbie Arnold, best known for her role as April Branning in EastEnders, has hit out at the decision of ITV bosses following the news Phillip Schofield is set to host the British Soap Awards next month.

It comes as the long-running TV presenter stepped down from his role on This Morning after 21 years on the couch alongside his co-star and longtime pal Holly Willoughby. Things took a sour turn when a reported 'feud' between the pair led to his sharp exit.

Since the announcement was made there have reportedly been fears according to the Mirror that Phillip's presence at the awards ceremony will distract from the real meaning of the event and the hard work and achievements of those in the industry.

Debbie, who has also starred in a string of other soaps including Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Doctors, was asked in a recent interview if she "didn't like the idea of tainted Phillip Schofield" hosting the awards.

"It's not tainted Phillip Schofield as much as the fact that it will all be about him and not about these other poor actors who spent years trying to get these awards," the 67-year-old actress said.

ITV have released a statement after it was claimed Holly Willoughby 'threatened to quit' This Morning before Phillip Schofield's departure (ITV/Shutterstock)

"It will just be all about Phillip, nobody will even be looking at them, they'll just be looking at him."

Speaking about those who are nominated for awards, she told GB News: "I don't think they'll be upset, he hasn't done anything to harm any actors...but they will definitely want the evening to be about them and surely if he hosts it it will all be about him."

Meanwhile, there have been further reports that Phillip's presence at the awards ceremony, which will be held in Manchester, could be a concern that he is "jeered".

A source said: "It's a big Saturday night event with celebrities and a paying public audience in the theatre. It's happening very soon. What if viewers side with Holly and Phil gets jeered?"

"It's a high-risk return for Phil and his presence could overshadow the event," they added when speaking to The i.

There has been mounting speculation across social media following Phillip's shock exit from This Morning, with ITV viewers convinced there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Despite being a huge part of the ITV show for decades, people were baffled when his send-off wasn't marked with bells and whistles leading to rumours that "more will emerge" in the coming months.

Announcing his departure from This Morning last weekend, Phillip 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.”

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