Phillip Schofield profile: TV royalty’s fall from grace

A series of controversies in recent months has led to popular presenter Phillip Schofield calling time on his daytime television post at “This Morning”.

Schofield, who has had a career of over 40 years in the entertainment business, started as a tea boy and worked his way up to become a regular fixture recognised by millions of people across the UK and beyond.

The latest developments, including a falling out with co-host Holly Willoughby, represents a “fall from grace” for the “King of TV”, said the Mirror ​​​​​​. 

Who is Phillip Schofield?

Schofield was born in Oldham on April Fool’s Day 1962, and grew up in Newquay, Cornwall with his parents and brother.

From a young age, Schofield was keen to secure his big break in the business, and according to the Daily Mail, a former neighbour spoke of him being “obsessed” with working for the BBC, writing to the corporation from the age of ten to secure a role “no matter how menial”.

He acheived his goal when he became a bookings clerk for the BBC at the age of 17 in 1979.

While his BBC dreams were cut short at the age of 19 when his parents emigrated to New Zealand, Schofield’s experience soon had him fronting a new pop show on the TVNZ network. He later tweeted he owed the country “a lot” for his experiences there.

But the fresh-faced host was soon back in the UK, returning as a children’s presenter for the BBC. He became a familiar face on Saturday morning television alongside the puppet Gordon the Gopher, and later presented “Going Live!” until 1993.

Schofield also made a foray into theatre, starring in the leading role in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” in the West End, as well as in “Doctor Dolittle” in the 1990s.

Making the switch to prime-time television, he then presented a host of programmes for ITV, before arriving at “This Morning” in 2002, marking the start of a two-decade stint on the show. 

‘Queue-gate’ and other controversies

Described in 1992 as the “hottest star in Britain today” by the then showbiz journalist Piers Morgan, Schofield used “This Morning” to cement his place as a household name.

However, circumstances recently began to sour for the well-loved presenter, after a series of damaging stories that eventually made his position untenable.

The BBC’s Steven McIntosh said “the wheels began to come off” for Schofield back in September 2022, when he visited the late Queen’s lying-in-state alongside co-host Holly Willoughby, in what soon became known as “queue-gate”.

While the presenters had been granted press access alongside other journalists, their actions were widely interpreted as skipping the queue, as others had waited for up to 20 hours to pay their respects. Schofield suggested the pair had been “unfairly targeted”, the Express reported, but the damage to his reputation had already been done.

For years, Schofield and Willoughby were a “shiny picture of camaraderie”, The Times said, but this appeared to mark the first signs of a shift in their relationship.

In the last few weeks, newspapers reported an apparent behind-the-scenes feud between the pair, with viewers noticing a change in presenting style from the once-popular duo. 

The tension appears to have been brought to a head by Schofield’s brother being found guilty in April of sexually abusing a boy. The Guardian cited reports that suggested Willoughby was “blindsided” by the trial, and the BBC added that the issue put “additional strain on an already fragile relationship”.

It appears ITV then decided the situation could not continue and Schofield released a statement via social media, stating he had agreed to step down from “This Morning” “with immediate effect”. 

An uncertain future

Upon his departure, ITV thanked the presenter, with managing director Kevin Lygo describing him as “one of the best broadcasters of his generation”. It was also confirmed that Schofield is set to front a “brand new peak time series” in the future.

But beleaguered by controversy, some critics are unsure of a clear path forward for Schofield. Writing in the Daily Mail, Tory MP Nadine Dorries criticised the decision to allow him to present the British Soap Awards next month, and said: “Why does the channel think that’s a good look – or even what the British public wants?”

The i news site also reported that ITV insiders fear a “public backlash” when the presenter makes a “high risk” return to present the awards ceremony in June. The newspaper also understands that Schofield will continue to appear on “Dancing on Ice”.