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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Joe Middleton

Phillip Schofield quits ITV after admitting affair with This Morning colleague

Phillip Schofield looking sad
Phillip Schofield said he was ‘painfully conscious’ he had lied about the affair to ITV, his colleagues, friends and agents. Photograph: Steve Back/Shutterstock

Phillip Schofield has sensationally quit ITV and admitted to an affair with a younger male colleague at This Morning while he was still married.

The 61-year-old – who stepped down from presenting the daytime TV programme last Saturday – said the “consensual on-off relationship” was “unwise, but not illegal”.

Schofield said he was “very sorry” for the affair, which happened while he was married to his wife of 30 years, Stephanie Lowe.

The TV presenter admitted he lied about the relationship to ITV, his colleagues, friends and his agents, YMU, who have since parted ways with Schofield.

He told the Daily Mail: “In an effort to protect my ex-colleague, I haven’t been truthful about the relationship.

“But my recent, unrelated, departure from This Morning fuelled speculation and raised questions which have been impacting him, so for his sake it is important for me to be honest now.

“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 have therefore decided to step down from the British Soap Awards, my last public commitment, and am resigning from ITV with immediate effect expressing my immense gratitude to them for all the amazing opportunities that they have given me.”

An ITV spokesperson said: “We are deeply disappointed by the admissions of deceit made tonight by Phillip Schofield.

“The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust. Philip made assurances to us which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.

“We accept his resignation from ITV and therefore can confirm that he will not be appearing on ITV as had previously been stated.”

Schofield’s departure from This Morning came amid reports of a rift with Holly Willoughby, with whom he had been presenting the programme since 2009.

Willoughby and Schofield attracted criticism in September last year when they were alleged to have skipped ahead of the public queue for the Queen’s lying in state. The pair denied the accusation and said their visit was ““strictly for reporting” and complied with accredited media access rules.

This year they have both taken breaks from This Morning for different reasons. Schofield took pre-planned leave from the show around the time of his brother’s sex abuse trial at Exeter Crown Court last month. Timothy Schofield, 54, was convicted of 11 sexual offences involving a child between October 2016 and October 2019, including two of sexual activity with a child.

In a statement after the guilty verdict, Philip Schofield said his brother’s crimes were “despicable” and welcomed the guilty verdicts.

In April, Willoughby also took time off from the ITV morning programme due to having the painful rash shingles, which is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. ITV has said Willoughby will “co-present with members of the This Morning family” when she returns on Monday 5 June.

After his departure from This Morning, Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary filled in on the show on Monday. Opening the broadcast, Hammond said: “We can’t start today’s show without paying tribute to the man who spent the last two decades sitting on the This Morning sofa: Phillip Schofield.”

O’Leary added: “So as a show, everyone on and off screen at ITV and This Morning on say a huge thank-you to Phil for what he’s done to make the show such a success over the last 21 years.”

The duo co-presented the programme on Monday and Tuesday, while Craig Doyle took the helm with Hammond on Wednesday.

Mary Bekhait, the Group CEO of YMU, 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 advisers we had brought in to support him.

“As a result, on Thursday we agreed to part company with Phillip, with immediate effect.”

In a statement from his lawyers, Schofield said: “It is with the most profound regret that after 35 years of being faultlessly managed by YMU I have agreed to step down from their representation with immediate effect.”

Schofield, 61, started his career as a bookings clerk at the BBC but later moved to New Zealand, where he took TV and radio work.

He returned to the UK in 1985 to and became a continuity announcer for Children’s BBC, a slot that also made a star of a puppet called Gordon the Gopher, and presented the Saturday morning show Going Live from 1987 to 1993.

Schofield was given the job at This Morning in 2002 following the arrest of then presenter John Leslie, later released without charge. He co-presented the show with Fern Britton, who later quit and was replaced by Willoughby.

In February 2020, Schofield announced he was gay and praised his “remarkable” and “amazing” wife Stephanie for her support. He shares two grown-up children, Molly and Ruby, with his wife.

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