Shamed Phillip Schofield has revealed he texted former co-host Holly Willoughby begging for forgiveness over his This Morning affair lies but she never replied.
Breaking his silence for the first time since the scandal erupted, the presenter explained how he messaged his close friend to say he was ‘so, so sorry’ for lying to her about his ‘unwise, but not illegal’ relationship with a much younger colleague.
Schofield lifted the lid on how Willoughby distanced herself from him when his paedophile brother was jailed and confirmed they are no longer speaking.
The 61-year-old, resigned from ITV on Friday and was dropped by his agency YMU after admitting to the tryst, while the network has instructed a barrister to review the facts around the star’s exit.
Willoughby is among those who may be grilled by the lawyer over the scandal, but those in her circle insisted last night that she has ‘nothing to hide’.
Phillip Schofield has revealed Holly Willoughby did not reply to his text which said he was ‘so, so sorry’ for lying to her about his ‘unwise, but not illegal’ relationship with a much younger colleague
Last Friday, Schofield admitted that he had lied to ITV, his co-host, his agency YMU and lawyers about his relationship with a much younger colleague
Breaking his silence last night, Schofield claimed Willoughby distanced herself from him after his paedophile brother was convicted
Timothy Schofield (pictured) was jailed for 12 years for a slew of child sex offences including abusing a teenage boy he groomed
Alison Hammond, Dermot O’Leary, Eamonn Holmes, Ruth Langsford and Dr Ranj Singh may all be asked to give statements to employment lawyer Jane Mulcahy KC.
Breaking his silence for the first time since his sudden departure from ITV, Schofield told The Sun: ‘I’ve lost my best friend. I let her down. I let that entire show down. I let the viewers down.
‘Holly did not know. And she was one of the first texts that I sent, to say, ”I am so, so sorry that I lied to you”.
‘She didn’t reply, and I understand why she didn’t reply, as well. So yeah. If anyone is in any way linking Holly to this — that is absolutely, wholly untrue.’
Since Schofield’s resignation, This Morning has been plagued by allegations of ‘toxicity’ – which has also impacted Willoughby’s standing.
Producers have also faced guests turning down offers to appear on This Morning – and its biggest sponsor, car dealer Arnold Clark, has confirmed it will not be renewing an existing multi-million-pound deal with the channel in autumn.
Yet Holly Willoughby is determined to fight to keep her spot on This Morning’s sofa and hopes to ‘ride out’ the ongoing scandal surrounding Schofield that has plunged ITV into a crisis, a source has claimed.
It comes amid fears that the programme will lose more of its advertisers as one insider said ‘brands do not feel ITV is a safe bet at the moment’.
However, a friend of Willoughby said the star ‘has nothing to hide’ from an ITV probe.
The star was in Portugal when she found out top silk Jane Mulcahy KC would be carrying out ‘an external review to establish the facts’.
A source told The Mirror: ‘Holly will of course 100% cooperate with the inquiry should she be asked, as she has nothing to hide whatsoever.
‘She has made crystal clear that Phil lied to her about his relationship with the runner, and is super relaxed about giving her version of events.’
Schofield claimed his relationship with his former best friend broke down after his brother was jailed, which made her distance herself from the friendship.
The veteran ITV presenter had stepped down from his role on This Morning just days after his paedophile brother Timothy Schofield was jailed for 12 years for a slew of child sex offences including abusing a teenage boy he groomed.
The star’s 54-year-old brother was convicted of 11 sexual offences involving a child between October 2016 and October 2019, including two of sexual activity with a child, after a trial at Exeter Crown Court in April.
During the bombshell interview, Schofield said that Willoughby had been one of the first people he confided in after his brother confessed to the horrendous behaviour.
ITV boss Carolyn McCall will appear before MPs to face questions over the Phillip Schofield scandal
He said that his co-host had been incredibly supportive throughout the trial, ‘holding [his] hand every step of the way’.
Last Friday, Schofield admitted that he had lied to ITV, his co-host, his agency YMU and lawyers about his relationship with a much younger colleague.
The revelation sent ITV into meltdown, being forced to launch an external investigation into the affair, after a number of former workers claimed the station’s bosses must have known about their romance.
Last night, Schofield insisted he ‘did not’ groom the young boy, who he had met when he was just 15 years old.
The young man then asked the former host for a job, landing a role in ITV production when he turned 18. The affair began sometime after that.
Schofield has now insisted his interactions with the younger male before he joined This Morning were ‘completely innocent.’
He told The Sun: ‘I did not, I did not [groom him].
‘There are accusations of all sorts of things. It never came across that way because we’d become mates. I don’t know about that.
‘But of course I understand that there will be a massive judgment, but bearing in mind, I have never exercised that anywhere else.’
He also told the newspaper that he did not ‘lie to protect’ his career, but the colleague who ‘did not want his name in public.
Schofield said the romance began after a ‘consensual moment’ in his dressing room in 2017 but insisted ‘it was not a love affair’.
‘It was not a relationship, we were not boyfriends; we were mates.’
‘It wasn’t feelings [I was getting], it was more like mates: excitement.’
The former This Morning presenter said he was struggling with his sexuality at the time, and the pair were together ‘maybe five or six times’.
He added: ‘We just didn’t think anyone knew, there was no lying, we thought, stupidly, that nobody knew.’
Schofield said his ‘greatest apology’ over the fallout from the affair was to his former lover.
He went on: ‘It has brought the greatest misery into his totally innocent life, his totally innocent family, his totally innocent friends. It has brought the greatest grief to them.’
He added: ‘I am deeply sorry and I apologise to him because I should have known better. I should have acted the way I have always acted. I should not have done it.
‘I’m sorry. And I will forever be sorry. I will die sorry. I am so deeply mortified.’
Schofield suggested homophobia could be behind some of the criticism levelled at him over the age gap.
He said: ‘Attraction is attraction. It’s no different in the gay world as it is in the heterosexual world or in the lesbian world.
‘There shouldn’t be a difference. This is where homophobia comes in.
‘We did first meet when he was 15, I visited the drama school (he attended).’
He added: ‘So yeah, there’s a difference. It’s accepted by Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s not accepted if it’s in the gay world.’
The fling took place while the TV star was still married to his wife of 30 years Stephanie Lowe, whom he has two daughters with.
Schofield’s loyal wife has been left both furious and devastated by his admission that he had an affair with a much younger colleague during their marriage.
Friends say that Ms Lowe, the mother of the presenter’s two grown-up daughters, had no idea he was in a relationship because Schofield had always described the man as a friend and colleague.
Recalling the moment he confessed to the affair, having previously denied it when she had asked him, the former host said: ‘She got off a plane and I phoned her up and texted saying, ‘I need to talk to you’. She called back and I told her.’
‘She was very, very angry.’
It can also be revealed that the former This Morning star’s eldest daughter Molly only found out about her father’s statement to the Daily Mail in which he admitted lying over the relationship with the man just minutes before the story broke.
Friends say that she was at work at YMU, the talent agency that represented Schofield for 35 years, when she found out.
Staff there say she was in such shock she had to be comforted before going home.
An interview between Schofield and the BBC’s Amol Rajan will be released today.
In a trailer released by the broadcaster, Schofield said: ‘It was a totally innocent picture, a totally innocent Twitter follow, of which I follow 11,400 people, and then it was a completely innocent backwards and forwards over a period of time about a job, about careers.
‘What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with talking to someone no matter what age they are?
Holly Willoughby is spending half term more than a thousand miles away from the This Morning drama as she holidays with family in Portugal, it has been revealed (Pictured: Holly on a previous trip)
Holly Willoughby has been spotted on holiday in Portugal. She is pictured with Phillip Schofield on this Morning earlier this month
Schofield was seen today in London for the first time since quitting ITV and This Morning
Phillip Schofield broke his silence tonight, saying he’s ‘broken and ashamed’ but not a groomer in his first interview since admitting an affair
The former This Morning star said the affair ‘never came across’ as an abuse of power because he and his lover were ‘mates’
‘Does that mean that if you’re following anyone on Twitter that you absolutely don’t talk to anybody else or you don’t give advice?’
He added: ‘The brief communications backwards and forwards up to the point that he came to work on This Morning I think was just chat.’
It follows the revelation that under-fire ITV boss Carolyn McCall has been called to appear before MPs to face questions over how the broadcaster approaches safeguarding and complaint handling.
The ITV star has been pictured out for dinner with her parents Linda and Brian (pictured together), sister Kelly, and three children near to her £8million Algarve villa.
Holly has often spent time with her mother Linda while taking a break from her life on TV
She has even mimicked her mother’s dress sense. For her 40th birthday (right) Holly wore a dark floral dress that her mother wore when she was younger (left)
Holly has even attended red carpet events with her mother. Pictured: Holly and Linda at the 2102 Pride of Britain Awards in London
Family: Holly is pictured with Terry in a beaming snap, which she previously shared to Instagram
Schofield’s admission to the affair with his junior colleague plunged the station into a crisis, seeing sponsors back out of multi-million-pound deals.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has today written to Dame Carolyn asking her to attend Parliament at 10am on Wednesday, June 14.
It comes after she was forced into a humiliating climbdown yesterday by announcing the broadcaster was bringing in a barrister to ‘carry out an external review to establish the facts’ around the chaos that has engulfed ITV since Schofield made his statement last week.
Holly Willoughby is spending half term more than a thousand miles away from the This Morning drama as she holidays with family in Portugal, it has also been revealed.
The ITV star has been pictured out for dinner with her parents Linda and Brian, sister Kelly, and three children near to her £8million Algarve villa.
An onlooker said Willoughby, 42, appeared to be trying to stay under the radar, wearing a hat and sunglasses.
‘The area is a holiday hotspot for Brits, so she is probably worried about being asked about the This Morning scandal,’ they told The Sun.
‘At one point, Holly spoke at length to a waiter who it seemed like she knew personally.
ITV announced it had commissioned an external inquiry into Phillip Schofield’s relationship with a much younger colleague
Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers has been instructed by ITV to carry out an external review
‘She seemed to be having a great time – unlike her old pal Phillip.’
Willoughby is believed to have spent the week in the 23C sun as the Phillip Schofield scandal deepens.
Willoughby is due to return to This Morning next Monday following the half-term break, having taken the early holiday when news of Schofield’s departure emerged.
Willoughby has been silent since putting out an Instagram statement on Saturday which said it had ‘taken time to process yesterday’s news’ following Schofield’s statement, adding: ‘When reports of this relationship first 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.’
She is due to return to This Morning next Monday following the half-term break, but former presenter Eamonn Holmes predicted she will not return to the sofa following Schofield’s bombshell exit.
When did Phillip Schofield resign from This Morning?
Phillip Schofield’s fall from grace has been swift. The veteran TV star, who has admitted to an affair with a much younger male colleague while still married to his wife, has lost his high-profile job on This Morning, his lucrative contract with ITV and his talent representation.
This is a timeline of how events unfolded:
February 2020: Schofield comes out as gay after nearly 27 years of marriage to wife Stephanie, in an emotional on-air chat with co-host and long-time friend Holly Willoughby. The pair embrace on the sofa.
September 2022: The co-hosts face criticism over claims they skipped the queue for the Queen’s lying in state while attending as members of the media to film a segment for This Morning.
April 17 2023: The first hint something might be wrong comes in the first show after the Easter break. They should have both been on the sofa after Schofield took leave while he brother Timothy was on trial for child sex offences. While Schofield is back in the studio, Willoughby is absent, saying she has shingles.
May 10: There are reports the pair are ‘barely speaking’.
May 11: Schofield calls Holly ‘his rock’ and says they are ‘the best of friends’.
May 15: The pair put on a united front on This Morning and make no reference to stories about their relationship.
May 18: Schofield presents what will turn out to be his last episode of This Morning.
May 20: Schofield steps down from This Morning with immediate effect. ITV says he will continue to present ‘peak time shows’, including The British Soap Awards and a new prime-time series. Willoughby releases a statement saying the sofa ‘won’t feel the same without him’.
May 21: It is announced that Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond will host the show on Monday May 22, as Willoughby takes early half-term leave. It is announced she will return to hosting duties on June 5.
May 22: O’Leary and Hammond host the show and hail Schofield as ‘one of the best live television broadcasters this country has ever had’.
May 26: Schofield admits to an ‘unwise but not illegal’ affair with a much younger male colleague and resigns from ITV. He confirms that the relationship began while he was still with his wife and says he will not be hosting the British Soap Awards. He apologises for lying about the relationship. He is dropped by his talent agency YMU.
May 27: Willoughby accuses Schofield of lying to her about the affair, saying his admission is ‘very hurtful’. ITV says the broadcaster was ‘not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour’ when it looked into the matter in 2020.
May 28: Former This Morning resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh says the show is ‘toxic’, adding he raised concerns about ‘bullying and discrimination’ two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was ‘managed out’ for whistleblowing. ITV responds by saying an external and independent adviser was appointed to carry out a review after the complaint, which found ‘no evidence of bullying or discrimination’.
May 29: Schofield releases a statement denying ‘toxicity’ at This Morning and says ‘it’s the same handful of people with a grudge against me or the show who seem to have the loudest voice’. Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes alleges there was a ‘total cover-up’ at ITV over the affair and says Willoughby should follow Schofield ‘out the door’.
May 31: ITV’s chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall says that the broadcaster has instructed a barrister to conduct an external review of how it has handled Schofield’s affair. She adds that Jane Mulcahy KC, of Blackstone Chambers, will ‘carry out an external review to establish the facts’.
June 1: Dame Carolyn has been called to give evidence to a parliamentary committee on June 14, to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following the departure of Schofield.
June 1: Schofield says he’s ‘broken and ashamed’ but not a groomer in first interview since he admitted affair with younger male colleague.