Holly Willoughby breaks silence over Phillip Schofield’s affair, calls lies ‘very hurtful’
Phillip Schofield’s former This Morning co-presenter Holly Willoughby has spoken out for the first time since he admitted to an affair with a younger male colleague.
On Friday (26 May), Schofield, 61, revealed that he had conducted a relationship with a junior member of This Morning staff who he met when the unnamed man was a teenager.
In a statement to the Daily Mail, the former ITV presenter said that he was asked to help the man “get into television” but clarified that the affair was “unwise, but not illegal”. He admitted to lying to colleagues, friends, his talent agency and the media to cover it up.
Schofield, who came out as gay in 2020, is now no longer working with ITV in any capacity, will not present the British Soap Awards next month or front a new prime-time series for the broadcaster.
Talent agency YMU, who had represented the TV personality for 35 years, cut ties with him over the matter.
Schofield’s admission came barely a week after he announced he was stepping down from This Morning after more than two decades, amid rumours of a feud with Willoughby, saying that the show itself had “become the story”.
Reports of tensions between the two presenters had gathered steam on social media and in the press, with rumours that the atmosphere on the show had become strained and the couple were no longer as close as they once had been.
Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield with the Best Daytime award for This Morning in the winners’ room at the National Television Awards 2022. (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
On 10 May, The Sun reported that the pair were “barely speaking” off camera due to ongoing issues. A day later, Schofield addressed claims of a feud in a statement where he praised Willoughby and intimated that their relationship was still solid.
He stated: “We’re the best of friends – as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone. Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her.”
Following the announcement that Schofield had quit the ITV breakfast talk show, Willoughby said that This Morning “won’t feel the same without him”.
“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,” Willoughby said in a statement. “The sofa won’t feel the same without him.”
Willoughby has now responded to Schofield’s bombshell admission of his affair with a junior colleague and how he lied to cover it up.
Taking to Instagram Stories on Saturday (27 May), Willoughby, 42, shared with her more than 8 million followers that she had asked Schofield “directly” about the relationship and was “hurt” to find out that he had not told her the truth.
“It’s taken time to process yesterday’s news,” Willoughby posted. “When reports of this relationship 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.”
Social media users have widely speculated about Willoughby’s prior knowledge of Schofield’s extramarital relationship, and many appear less than convinced by her statement on Instagram.
Earlier on Saturday, ITV confirmed that it did investigate rumours of a relationship between Schofield and a younger man working on the show when they first began to circulate in 2020. According to an ITV spokesperson, both parties “categorically and repeatedly denied” the rumours.
“ITV spoke to a number of people who worked on This Morning and were not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour,” the spokesperson continued.
“Phillip’s statement yesterday reveals that he lied to people at ITV, from senior management to fellow presenters, to YMU, to the media and to others over this relationship.”