Phillip Schofield, the veteran TV presenter, has stepped down from presenting ITV’s This Morning show with immediate effect. His co-presenter, Holly Willoughby, will remain on the show but will be taking early half-term holiday leave. Alison Hammond and Craig Doyle have stepped in to present the show on Wednesday, after Hammond and Dermot O’Leary filled in for the first two days since Schofield’s departure last Thursday.
Former ITV broadcaster Piers Morgan, who had overcome a 25-year rift with Schofield, wrote in his column for the Sun newspaper that he feels personal empathy for Schofield over the manner of his sacking. Morgan stated that he does not know the full story behind Schofield’s downfall but that for ITV to not even give him the chance to say a proper goodbye to his large, loyal audience after 21 years struck him as needlessly churlish. Morgan stated that Schofield is heartbroken about it, as he told Morgan himself.
An ITV spokesperson said on Wednesday that “Phillip Schofield’s decision to step down from This Morning was (as his statement made clear) a decision agreed between Phillip and ITV.” Morgan went on to say that Schofield is not the evil monster he is being painted as, nor is he the angel his previously halo-clad reputation suggested. He added that what has happened to Schofield is further evidence that the abyss-like depths of ruthless backstabbing in the world of daytime television makes even the seething cesspit of Westminster politics seem like an oasis of loyalty by comparison.
Morgan stated that one minute Schofield was the undisputed king of morning TV and fast heading to bona fide national treasure status, the next he’s a dethroned, shamed, vilified, national disgrace and social media laughing stock. He added that many of those people he mistakenly thought were faithful friends and colleagues have been happily tossing him on the bonfire in a blizzard of lurid leaks, smears, and damaging headlines.
Morgan said that the last few days with developing news about Schofield have been brutal to watch and revealed that he had received an email from a former senior ITV executive describing daytime television as an absolute nest of vipers with zero loyalty. Last Thursday marked Schofield’s last day on the show as he said he will not be returning for a final episode. Schofield’s departure comes after he faced months of controversy including reports of a rift with his long-time co-host Willoughby, his brother’s sex abuse trial, and a furore over his visit to the late Queen’s lying-in-state.
ITV has said Willoughby will co-present with members of the This Morning family when she returns on Monday, June 5th. The broadcaster has been contacted for comment.