Really, I should have put money on Holly wearing white. Of course she was going to wear white. White! The colour of angels, the colour of truth and purity, the colour of Phil’s ashen complexion these days and, coincidentally, the principal colour of a whitewash, too.
In her white button through summer dress, Holly gulped and stared straight down the camera to deliver her mission statement, a 240-word spun sugar testimony upon which much depended. Not just the future of This Morning but – much more importantly – the future of Holly herself.
‘Right. Deep breath. Firstly, are you OK? It feels very strange indeed sitting here without Phil,’ she began, the first and only time she referred to her ex-colleague by name. From this point onwards, she further distanced herself from her former best friend by referring to him using third person pronouns only.
‘We gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth, who acted in a way that they themselves felt that they had to resign from ITV, and step down from a career that they loved,’ she said. Anything else? Yes. ‘It’s equally hard to see the toll that it’s taken on their own mental health,’ she said, her halo shining and her pretty face crimping into an expression she perhaps hoped conveyed concern and sympathy, but only made her look like a lightly troubled marshmallow.
Holly gulped and stared straight down the camera to deliver her mission statement
Someone, they, their? It was bizarre. As if Phil had suddenly become transgender and non-binary overnight, not that Holly would know. Despite the closeness and friendship that developed between them over 14 years of working together, apparently he was not always candid about important emotional matters. As is entirely his right.
Holly pushed on, her glassy-eyed angelcore vibe pierced with an occasional, regretful half smile. Was she a hostage pleading for help, a nun soliciting funds for the Turn A Blind Eye Convent, an actress giving a masterclass in how to emote in those big scenes when you chip your nail polish or can’t get the WiFi to work properly? It was hard to tell.
One thing was clear – Holly cared. And she cared that you cared, too – although her assumption that viewers shared her feelings of being ‘shaken, troubled and let down’ was perhaps a conjecture too far. Yet once you waded through the shallows of her compassion, her statement was utterly brutal – more notable for what it didn’t say rather than for what it did.
Most importantly, it reinforced the fact that Schofield had lied both to her and to ITV, thus hardening the company line that everything is his fault. Her tone was emollient and caring, but showing a vague concern for the welfare of someone in trouble is not the same thing as actually giving them support. She said she was still full of questions, but aren’t we all?
For there is a terrible disconnect in this story, a rock in the river, a tidal divergence of truths that is still hard to fathom. If we are to believe Phillip Schofield’s version of events, as relayed in his BBC interview last week, then why all the fuss?
‘Right. Deep breath. Firstly, are you OK? It feels very strange indeed sitting here without Phil,’ she began, the first and only time she referred to her ex-colleague by name
According to him, there was no toxicity on the show and no grooming on his part. He had a small fling over a short period of time with a 20-year-old. When it ended, the two men remained friends. If this is the case, then surely it was none of Holly’s business? Or anyone else’s, for that matter. Why was she even asking him who he was having sex with? And if the truth lies elsewhere, then surely they are all complicit in something much bigger and more scandalous.
Amid the deafening sound of axes being ground by disgruntled This Morning alumni, none of it makes much sense. Meanwhile, Holly spoke bravely of a ‘desire to heal’ and wants to ‘get back to a place of warmth and magic’ where we can ‘find strength in each other’.
What the hell is she going on about? Either she has booked in for a Turn That Frown Upside Down cranial massage treatment in the Disneyland crystal spa or the lawyers told her to ‘just keep waffling, love, we’ll give you a signal when the two minutes are up’.
After Holly thanked viewers for all their ‘kind messages’ – tacitly further underlining her adopted status as The Innocent Party, Monday’s programme unfurled as usual. Gyles Brandreth, tips on how to Beat The Pollen Bomb, suggestions on how to avoid holiday rental scams and a recipe for barbequed chilli prawns. ‘I’ve gotten better with spice,’ said whiter than white Holly, having a taste. Well, I’m afraid the jury is still out on that one.