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Daily Record
Daily Record
Saffron Otter & Eve Beattie

Holly Willoughby's career could be over due to one Phillip Schofield mistake

Holly Willoughby is set to return to the This Morning studio next week and sources claim she is set to put on a 'defiant front' following the Phillip Schofield scandal.

An insider close to the mum-of-three claimed she will be back on the iconic sofa on Monday with "nothing to hide" after calls were made for her to exit the show, reports the Mirror.

Phil, 61, dramatically quit This Morning after 21 years following a rumoured feud between himself and Holly.

And just days later, he revealed he had had an "unwise but not illegal" affair with a younger ITV employee in an explosive statement.

Holly, who jetted abroad to Portugal with her family amid the controversy, said she was "hurt" by the news, distancing herself from Phil and his scandal.

However, a crisis management expert is questioning whether it is enough to save her clean-cut image and brand.


Edward Coram James believes the situation may be beyond repair and Holly's career may also be over.

The fact Holly's name has become synonymous with Schofield's will no longer work in her favour, he argues.

"The idea of crisis communications is to make sure that the telling of the crisis deflates the crisis. However, with the unfolding Philip Schofield situation, the opposite has been true," the expert, who is the CEO of Go Up, told the Mirror.

"Very poor crisis communications has blown everything up, taking what could have been an unfortunate, embarrassing and sad but manageable and recoverable situation for all involved, and turning it into a full-scale disaster with potentially ruinous consequences that are now probably irreversible.

"Unless further facts arise to contradict this, the story should have started and stopped with the controllable narrative of a television presenter having a very inappropriate but legal and very much consensual relationship with a younger colleague.

"Instead, it has turned into a career-defining event that could spell professional ruin for Philip, Holly, a number of high-powered ITV execs and even the This Morning programme."

After Phillip's statement on Friday May 26, regarding the affair, Holly responded: "It's taken time to process yesterday's news.

"When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not.

"It's been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie. Holly."

Edward acknowledged: "By instead focusing on her hurt and sense of betrayal, she has missed the opportunity to try to cool the flames, and instead has added to the sense of outrage and panic."

Meanwhile, the PR expert commented on how Phillip and Holly became intertwined in the public eye - and how it can then be difficult to go it alone.

"When this happens, and things are going well, it can be a mutual boon," he explained.

"If one wins an award, the other can reap some reputational benefit from that. The same, however, is true when one runs into trouble.

"The other can be tarnished by association. That is not to say that she would be incapable of forging a successful career for herself. She is a very talented presenter and would be, in many ways, an asset to any tv programme that fits her format and demographic."

He refers to what happened to fellow ITV presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, when Ant was fined £86,000 and banned from driving for 20 months in 2018 after pleading guilty to drink driving.

"The Ant and Dec duo eventually put on a crisis comms masterclass, showed a united front, focused on Ant's humanity and human frailties and, as a result, bounced back as strong as ever," Edward commented.

"By thinking so short-termist and joining the Schofield pile on, Willoughby may well have put the final nail in the coffin for any chance of a comeback for him. And, in doing so, she may well have dragged herself down too.

"If she is able to survive the immediate turmoil and forge a career persona beyond that of the Holly and Phil double act, she will not be out of the woods."

And lastly, Edward has said the reason Holly might be judged more so than others in the world of showbiz is down to her 'prim and proper' public persona.

"Over many years, Willoughby has portrayed herself to be a saintly figure. So did Schofield," he added.

"The problem with this is that people are rarely actually saints. Those that set out their stools as being lovable but human, warts and all, are judged more fairly when they make mistakes."

Holly Willoughby declined to comment.

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