Piers Morgan has revealed Phillip Schofield is “utterly heartbroken” over his dramatic exit from This Morning.
The TV presenter announced his departure from the programme last week, after 21 years at the helm.
In his column for The Sun newspaper, Piers said the ongoing scandal surrounding Phillip has been “brutal to watch”.
Piers wrote: “I don’t know the full story behind Phillip Schofield’s downfall, but where I feel personal empathy with him is over the manner of his sacking.
“For ITV to not even give him the chance to say a proper goodbye to his large, loyal audience after 21 years struck me as needlessly churlish, and I know about it, because he told me himself.”
While Piers alleged Phillip was “sacked”, ITV said in a statement this week that his “decision to step down from This Morning was (as his statement made clear) a decision agreed between Phillip and ITV.”
The 58-year-old continued: “Phillip’s not the evil monster he’s being painted as, nor is he the angel his previously halo-clad reputation suggested.”
“One thing’s for sure, what’s happened to him is further evidence that the abyss-like depths of ruthless backstabbing in the world of daytime television makes even the seething cesspit of Westminster politics seem like an oasis of loyalty by comparison.
“One minute Schofield was the undisputed king of morning TV and fast heading to bona fide national treasure status, the next he’s a dethroned, shamed, vilified, national disgrace and social media laughing stock.
“And many of those people he mistakenly thought were faithful friends and colleagues have been happily tossing him on the bonfire in a blizzard of lurid leaks, smears and damaging headlines.”
Phillip announced his departure from This Morning in a statement shared to his Instagram Stories on Saturday.
He 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,” the 61-year-old added.
His co-host Holly Willoughby then said in a statement: “Hi guys. 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 added.
After Phillip announced his departure, ITV confirmed Holly will stay on the show, and will “co-present with members of the This Morning family” in the interim.
However, the presenter is taking early half-term holiday leave this week, and will return on June 5.
Amid Holly’s absence, Alison and Dermot stepped in to host the show on Monday.
Opening the show, Alison told viewers: “Now we can’t start today’s show without paying tribute to the man who’s spent the last two decades sitting on This Morning’s sofa, Phillip Schofield.”
Dermot continued: “As a show, everyone on and off the screen at ITV and This Morning want to say a huge thank you to Phil for what he has done to make the show such a success over the last 21 years.”
Alison added: “Quite simply we all know he is one of the best live television broadcasters this country has ever had and we and all the team wish him all the best for the future.”
For anyone who missed it;
– Todays This Morning intro with no people in it (usually has Phillip, Holly, Alison and Dermot)
– Alison and Dermot’s “tribute” to Phillip Schofield #thismorning pic.twitter.com/gruHKzXpKc
— Dave (@DavidMackayy) May 22, 2023
His departure came amid rumours of a feud between Phillip and Holly, after The Sun reported that they were “not as close as they once were”.
The popular presenting duo, who have co-hosted This Morning since 2009, had been friends for years, and have even holidayed with each other’s families.
Although their “feud” has only come to light in recent days, it has been brewing for “three years” – starting when Holly chose to leave Phillip’s agency YMU Group, of which he is a shareholder.
“Holly quietly started to distance herself from Phil back in 2020,” a source told the publication.
“She created her own female-led agency for a reason — and that was to champion women.”
“The legal issues [with YMU] rumbled on for 18 months but Holly fought for what was right. Ultimately, Phil chose to stay and Holly chose to leave, it wasn’t easy at the time.”
A source also claimed that Holly’s brief presenting gig on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here back in 2018, when Ant McPartlin took a break, caused a strain on her relationship with Phillip.
“It was widely known in the industry that Phil was annoyed Holly was offered the jungle,” they said.
“It was a massive break for her and she more than proved her mettle. Phil was naturally jealous it wasn’t him.”
“Holly’s star has started to shine brighter. She has become a TV personality people want to work with.”
“The BBC have been pursuing her for a number of roles and she was down to the final two for their reboot of Survivor but was unable to make the dates work,” the source continued.
“Professionally, Holly is proving to be a huge success in her own right and it is clear to some Phil is being left behind.”
“When they first started working together in 2009, Phil was the bigger star and he led the way.”
“Now the tables have turned. Holly is the bigger star in the duo and that must be difficult for Phil to have to accept.”
It’s been an eventful few months for the duo, as they both came under fire when they were accused of skipping the queue to see the Queen lying-in-state last September.
Phillip was also recently absent from This Morning for a few weeks during his brother’s sex abuse trial, and Holly was struck down by the shingles.
The source said: “The court case has been difficult and while Phil has done nothing wrong, it has impacted both of them and been a real strain.”
“Although their partnership had been weakening, this was a real catalyst for change.”
“Holly has been advised to focus on her own career and keep moving forwards,” the source continued.
“Her husband Dan Baldwin is a TV executive and he is incredibly supportive of her solo moves.”