Home   News   Article

NICKY MARR: I'm cynical about why Phillip Schofield's affair attracting wall-to-wall media coverage

By Nicky Marr

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Philip Schofield.
Philip Schofield.

I SHOULD have spent Monday morning planning for an upcoming workshop, but I got distracted by a BBC ‘Breaking News’ alert on my phone.

Was it to be another interest rate rise? Or maybe the Scottish Government were finally going to announce a timetable for dualling the A9?

No. The BBC issued a ‘stop everything’ alert to let me and millions of others know that Holly Willoughby was about to take to the This Morning sofa for her ‘opening speech’ about carrying on with the programme without Phillip Schofield.

In a heavily trailed, carefully worded, and well-rehearsed piece to camera, Willoughby, dressed in squeaky-clean white and clutching the hand of a someone I’ve never seen before, took a “deep breath”, asked those of us at home, “firstly, are you OK? I hope so”, then talked of being “shaken, troubled, let-down” by Schofield who “was not telling the truth”, and that “that’s a lot to process”.

Not a This Morning super-fan, I checked-in with myself and found I was doing just fine, and not feeling any of the things she imagined I might be. Instead, I’m feeling somewhat bemused about the wall-to-wall coverage this affair is

getting, cynically wondering what else we might be being distracted from.

But if a text alert wasn’t alarmist enough, the BBC then proceeded to live report not just Willoughby’s opening statement, but the whole show, with online commentary and analysis of links, topics, the handover to Loose Women, and the fans’ reaction on Twitter. They had five journalists on that one job, plus two editors.

Overkill? Oh, I would say so. And the BBC weren’t the only ones. And I get that by writing this I’m only adding to the hugely overblown coverage of one co-host’s feelings about another’s affair.

The phrase of this whole debacle, which has seen Schofield drop in status from national treasure to national disgrace, has to be ‘unwise but not illegal’.

Click here to read more from Nicky Marr

So far, this is what we know.

Schofield, before he came out as gay and separated from his wife, had an affair with a much younger colleague at work. He had met the boy while he was a teenager and had helped him to get the job on the show. The affair didn’t – we are told – start until the younger man was over the age of consent. And they kept it a secret.

Of course the affair was secret. Schofield was married with a family, a career, and a reputation to protect, and he hadn’t yet come out. The star of the show and a young staffer were hardly going to be seen holding hands in the green room, were they?

And of course their affair was unwise. Most of them are. But showbiz careers are rarely lost over infidelity – a breakfast-time scandal will hit the front page of the red-tops and blow over before tea-time tomorrow.

And if we are judging the affair purely on age difference, it’s less icky than 83-year-old Al Pacino’s announcement that he’s expecting a baby with his 29-year-old girlfriend.

The real worry in all of this is the power imbalance between Schofield and his younger colleague, and the suggestions of grooming. Hopefully the truth will all come out during the forthcoming inquiry into how ITV managed what has been described by some insiders as a ‘toxic environment’.

On-air partnerships come and go, we know that. I had several co-hosts during my 13 years at MFR; each transition was unsettling, but brought something fresh, and ultimately something positive.

Willoughby has decades of presenting ahead of her. But where does this leave Schofield? His fall from grace has been catastrophic. If it turns out that his only crime was an unwise affair, his fall has been disproportionate too.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More