Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby used to discuss the daily headlines on This Morning –but last week, there was one story that wasn’t been mentioned at all ahead of his abrupt exit.
It was the supposed drama surrounding their friendship, amid claims that they’d experienced a ‘fallout’ behind the scenes.
Speculation was rife that the stars of the ITV programme could end up quitting their long-time positions amid the controversy, after it was alleged that they’re ‘barely speaking’ when the cameras aren’t around.
While Phillip, 61, insisted that he and Holly, 42, were still ‘best friends’ and that she was his ‘rock’, the reports told a different story altogether.
However, it was then confirmed on Saturday, May 20 that Phillip would be leaving the show, with Holly remaining as co-host along with the rest of the This Morning team.
So what happened in the lead-up to this alleged ‘fallout’, and what’s been said about their relationship by some of those who know them in real life?
What happened leading up to the ‘fallout’, including queuegate?
The reports of Holly and Phillip’s ‘fallout’ behind the scenes of This Morning might have seemed sudden to some, but to others who had been following the pair for years, it felt more like an inevitable escalation of recent events.
Last year, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the duo found themselves in hot water when they were accused of skipping the queue to visit the late Queen Elizabeth II lying in state at Westminster Abbey.
Despite ITV issuing a statement in their defence, and the presenters insisting that they didn’t break any rules or take anyone’s place in the queue, the criticism has continued to plague them for months.
There have been other instances in the past when it was alleged that Phillip and Holly’s relationship had soured behind the scenes, with the pair each maintaining over the years that they’d always remained as close as can be.
However, it was recently claimed that Holly considered quitting This Morning to remove herself from the latest controversy, while Phillip allegedly rejected ITV’s calls for him to step down himself before he finally decided to quit.
What could the ‘fallout’ mean for This Morning?
While Eamonn Holmes has insisted that This Morning is an ‘institution’ and it doesn’t matter who hosts it, Phillip leaving the programme will inevitably mark a massive shift when Holly returns to her post in June following the half-term break.
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Phillip has fronted the show since 2002, while Holly first began her role in 2009, with Amanda Holden briefly taking her spot when she was on maternity leave in 2014.
Striking the perfect formula of presenters for a TV show can be make or break situation, whether or not the format is polished to perfection.
In his statement to say he would be stepping down, Phil wrote: ‘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.’
Holly will return to present the ITV show alongside other personalities from the This Morning family, while Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary took over from Monday May 22 as her extended half-term break began.
What have their co-stars said about the drama?
As expected, many of the biggest stars on ITV’s daytime news programmes remained tight-lipped over the situation ahead of Phillip’s exit.
Nonetheless, Lorraine Kelly wasn’t afraid to share her twopence the other day before it was confirmed he’d be leaving, stating: ‘Do you know what? They were back today and it was business as usual and everyone is just getting on with it.’
Continuing to The Sun, she said: ‘I would be sad if they left the show but I don’t think that is ever likely to happen and I think they’re just getting on with it.’
However, former This Morning star Eamonn wasn’t quite so sympathetic when he disclosed his views on his GB News breakfast show.
‘I think there should’ve been a special award for Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby for best actors,’ he said brutally.
‘They may or may not be together on the telly today, but he’s brought in lawyers, she’s brought in [a] PR team. The public surely have sussed that there’s no chemistry, that there’s a broken fit between the two of them.’
After Phillip’s exit, he commented once again, ranting: ‘Oh please just stop this. He was sacked. All this nonsense of “I’ve decided to step down”. I’m sure you did – here’s your P45, now step down.’
Following Phil’s quitting statement, Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director, Media and Entertainment said: ‘Phillip is hands down one of the best broadcasters of his generation and we thank him for his two decades worth of absolutely terrific television on the This Morning sofa.
‘This Morning is made by one of the best and most diligent teams in television, who produce over 12 hours of live television each week.’
‘We look forward to continuing our relationship with Phillip starting with The British Soap Awards in June and a brand new peak time series to come.’
On Monday’s This Morning, Alison and Dermot also paid tribute to Phillip, with the former beginning by stating: ‘Now, 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.’
The latter then continued: ‘So, as a show, everyone on and off screen at ITV, and This Morning, want to say a huge thank you to Phil for what he’s done to make this show such a success over the last 21 years.’
What have Phillip and Holly said about the ‘fallout’?
Prior to queuegate in 2022, Phillip addressed the rumours of a ‘feud’ with Holly, stating emphatically: ‘When they’re writing “Phillip and Holly feud”, we couldn’t have been closer, because I’d told her my secret and she was holding me together at work.’
Holly also spoke out on the speculation in 2021, saying that it was ‘a particularly difficult time’.
‘But I remember having a conversation with Phil and it was like, “But we know,”’ she recollected. ‘I have to believe that, as long as you know inside, and you know the truth – you know your truth – then everything is okay.’
However, they’ve been less united when it comes to this new wave of rumours. Phillip issued a statement, telling his followers: ‘As I have said before, Holly is my rock.
‘We’re the best of friends — as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone.’
He continued to The Sun: ‘Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her. The last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us.’
Holly’s response? She’s stayed quiet.
After Phillip took to Instagram to quit, however, Holly did respond with a statement of her own, thanking him for their 13 years together on the show.
‘Hi everyone…’, she began.
‘It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour.’
‘The sofa won’t feel the same without him’, she concluded, suggesting she plans to stay on as host for the foreseeable.
Who could replace Phillip Schofield on This Morning?
There’s been plenty of speculation over possible replacements for Phillip on This Morning, with some viewers instantly thinking that either of Friday’s hosts Alison and Dermot could be natural fits.
Others have suggested TV personalities such as Rylan Clark could be a contender, with the former X Factor star issuing a brilliant response to a troll who was not happy about the idea.
‘Please God not Rylan to replace @Schofe. He’s on everything and is even more fake than Phil,’ the troll tweeted, to which he simply replied: ‘Morning,’ with a thumbs-up emoji.
Other names mentioned by the bookies include Rochelle Humes, Joel Dommett and Josie Gibson, with some even speculating if Piers Morgan could make a shock return to ITV.
He issued a fiery reaction on Twitter by writing: ‘Thanks to everyone suggesting I might replace Philip Schofield at This Morning in a Lazarus-like comeback to ITV.
‘Unfortunately, there’s just one problem: I still don’t believe a single word Meghan Markle says!’
Have Phillip and Holly spoken since his This Morning exit?
It was claimed that after Phillip’s final ever This Morning show on Thursday May 18, he and Holly are said to have had a private phone conversation.
It was alleged that they called a ‘truce’ during their chat, before he released his statement publicly announcing to the nation that their daytime show partnership had come to an end.
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Phillip was spotted paying a visit to Cornwall to seek solace with his 85-year-old mum Pat in the aftermath of the huge ITV shake-up, walking along the coastal path by the sea.
Meanwhile, on the Instagram account for Wylde Moon, the lifestyle company founded by Holly, a post was put up on Sunday all about self-care, which included images of a bubble bath, a journal and a soothing candle.
Who could play them in a TV drama?
When thinking about who could possibly play Phillip and Holly in a hypothetical TV drama about the goings-on behind the scenes of This Morning, a few household names come to mind.
For Holly, perhaps an actress such as Sienna Miller, Lucy Boynton or Imogen Poots, all of whom have the acting chops to capture her signature cheerful nature and frequent giggles?
For Phillip, how about Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg or Tom Hollander, all chameleons capable of completely transforming into different characters?
If you have any better suggestions, we’re all ears.
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV.
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