Look back at Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield's rocky friendshipMay 12, 2023
From a ‘scary’ first meeting to ruling daytime TV and THAT This Morning ‘civil war’: A look at Holly and Phil’s rocky relationship amid ‘feud’ – after ‘Queue-gate’ and family scandals
Over the years Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby have solidified themselves as the king and queen of daytime TV, having worked together for nearly two decades.
Yet despite being one of TV’s most famous double acts the pair are said to be ‘not as close as they once were’ and now barely speak off camera.
As of late the on-screen chemistry has soured, with reports their relationship has become strained following a string of controversies including Queuegate and Phillip’s brother, Timothy, convicted of child sex offences.
Phillip, 61, has insisted that isn’t the case, calling Holly, 42, his ‘rock’, although he did admit that ‘the last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us.’
Now, as This Morning bosses are said to be in a major crisis, with reports Holly wants to pull the plug on their ITV partnership for good, MailOnline takes a look back at their highs and lows over the years.
From a ‘scary’ first meeting to ruling daytime TV and THAT This Morning ‘civil war’: A look at Holly and Phil’s rocky relationship amid ‘feud’ (pictured on Dancing On Ice in 2006)
2006: A ‘scary’ first meeting
Holly and Phil’s friendship first began in the Noughties when the pair were chosen to host ITV skating competition, Dancing On Ice.
Having worked solely on children’s television ahead of landing the primetime gig, Holly admitted she was ‘scared’ to work alongside the already established Phillip.
Yet she was quickly put at ease, with the pair bonding immediately and becoming fast friends.
Shortly after they started working together, Holly confessed: ‘I love that man. I’d obviously watched him on the telly lots, he was in the Broom Cupboard, he was my children’s TV presenter that I used to watch.
‘I was a bit scared when I first met him but that changed very quickly when I realised he was basically me in the male form.’
2009: Becoming the king and queen of daytime TV
While Holly was enthralled by Phillip’s professionalism and personality, the feeling was obviously mutual.
When Fern Britton decided to step down from This Morning in 2009, Phillip was adamant that Holly be lined up as her replacement.
Speaking about the decision to appoint her, Phil previously confessed: ‘When Fern decided to leave and discussions were starting I said, “There’s only one person. It has to be Holly.”‘
Holly has also credited her pal with helping her land the job, explaining on Elizabeth Day’s podcast How To Fail last year: ‘If it wasn’t for Phil, I wouldn’t be on This Morning now.
‘Because everyone around him at the time when he suggested my name, were like, “What? No! She might be alright in the fashion bit but there’s no way she could interview the Prime Minister…'”
New job: When Fern Britton decided to step down from This Morning in 2009, Phillip was adamant that Holly be lined up as her replacement
2009: Being each other’s shoulder to cry on
The year that Holly began her work on This Morning, the TV presenter welcomed her first child with husband Dan Baldwin.
The blonde beauty went on to welcome two more children but life as a working mother ultimately took its toll on her.
Speaking about how Phil would lift her spirits, Holly previously told Radio Times: ‘We spend quite a lot of time together and quite often I’d come in in the morning and I wouldn’t have slept properly because of the kids or something and he’s my first port of call to talk to, really.’
In turn, Phil could rely on her to be a shoulder to cry on, saying in the same interview: ‘Holly is incredibly sympathetic.
‘She’s the best person to tell secrets to. She’s got a brilliant ability to see sense through mess. She’s also more diplomatic than I am.
‘If we disagree on something, which is rare, we very quickly see the other person’s point of view. And we don’t have egos between the pair of us – there’s none of that nonsense.’
2016: Nursing each other’s hangovers
While Holly and Phil did their best to maintain an air of professionalism on This Morning, away from the cameras the pair were known for letting their hair down.
The pair famously arrived at This Morning still in their party clothes after spending the night letting loose at the 2016 National Television Awards.
After downing tequila shots all evening the hungover duo opened the show in their black tie ensembles while lying on the sofa.
‘Should we be honest?’ Holly said while still wearing her glamorous white gown. ‘I haven’t been home yet. We came straight here.’
Giggling away, the pair admitted they went to Ant McPartlin’s house after the event, where they played Pie-Face the game.
As they struggled to regain any sense of composure, Phillip appeared to completely give up at one point as he fell about hysterically laughing.
The silver fox ended up lying on Holly before lying in the foetal position on the sofa, with his feet up, as if he were in bed.
2016: The pair famously arrived at This Morning still in their party clothes after spending the night letting loose at the National Television Awards
2019: Sparking a This Morning ‘civil war’
Holly and Phil were first rocked by rumours of a fallout in 2019 when sources at This Morning claimed there was a toxic atmosphere backstage.
An ITV source told The Sun at the time: ‘For so long people have been silenced because they are scared for their job. If they speak out publicly about the atmosphere they fear there could be repercussions.’
An insider close to Holly added: ‘It’s true there have been some issues. They’re like brothers and sisters – they have ups and downs but love each other.’
Hitting back at the reports, a spokesperson for ITV said: ‘It’s deeply disappointing and unfair for Phillip to be the target of this sort of malicious gossip.
‘Phillip is a much respected broadcaster and colleague and this is absolutely not a description of This Morning that we recognise.
‘Holly and Phil are great friends both on and off screen and are popular among viewers and colleagues alike.’
Phil also slammed the rumours as he discussed their sibling-like relationship during the Dancing On Ice launch.
The TV star said: ‘Can you imagine a feud between us ever happening? It’s not as if we have to defend anything.
‘It’s a shame… we are so open on the show, we are so open online and we go on holiday together. Holly is the sister I never had, we think at the same speed. It’s so organic… it’s a shame.
‘Everyone who knows us, I mean, everyone at This Morning was like, “What the hell?” The atmosphere in our studio is so wonderful, there’s such a lovely team. Everyone is lovely.’
Holly was equally as vocal, telling Closer magazine: ‘We ring each other and talk to each other all the time anyway, about this and other things.
‘We know what we’re like. It would be impossible for us to fake the giggles. I’m on the telly for two and a half hours – let me tell you, I’m not that good an actress.
‘If I was, I’d be doing something else.’
Toxic: Holly and Phil were first rocked by rumours of a fallout in 2019 when sources at This Morning claimed there was a toxic atmosphere backstage
2020: Making a life-changing announcement
In February 2020, Phillip’s life changed forever when he publicly came out as gay.
The TV presenter first took to Instagram to reveal the news in a lengthy and impassioned post before appearing on This Morning to discuss his announcement with his co-host and best friend, during which he broke down in tears.
After 27 years of marriage to his wife Steph, he revealed that he suffered ‘inner conflict’ and was now ready to ‘celebrate and be proud’ of his sexuality.
Kicking off the subject on This Morning, supportive Holly said: ‘I think we all just take a breath at that point, reading that I can hear your voice, the pain, how difficult it is for you, this is a big day. I know this is something you’ve been living with for a really long time’.
Phil responded: ‘It’s funny because everyone I’ve spoken to, and you, have all been so supportive and so loving and caring, and my entire family to a person have grabbed us and said it’s ok, we love you we’re proud of you…
‘Every person I tell it gets a little lighter and a little lighter, at the same time I have made this decision which is essential for me and essential for my head and that is principally the reason I have done this. They have been supporting while we get to this moment because we all know it was coming…
‘We’ve never had any secrets. It is tough but it’s not something that has happened quickly, I have had to deal with this in my head for quite some time, we’ve gone through this together, we have been honest and have been open and Stephanie as I said, you know’.
2022: Forming a ‘support group’
Three years on from the This Morning ‘civil war’, Phillip insisted everything was going well behind the scenes, saying ‘it’s more than a job, it’s my support group’.
Sharing how much he misses the ITV breakfast show when taking time away, he explained: ‘It’s like ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!’ Everyone knows everything about everybody, and that’s nice…so I always miss that friendship group.
‘This Morning is more than just a show, it’s such a lovely group of people to come to work with and you do miss that – it’s not really a job!
‘It’s more than a job, it’s much much more than that… and I’m not gonna lie, This Morning is one of my support groups and that’s a lovely thing to have.’
Holly echoed her pal as she described the show as ‘one big family’, detailing how she feels refreshed after the break.
She explained: ‘When I come back in September I’m ready to start again. It’s a real re-set for me.’
Sharing that they have a ‘boxset watching group’ and another for being a bit more ‘outrageous’, Phillip revealed that he and Holly keep in touch by ‘telling each other stories and update on things that we’ve done and sending pictures of where we are.’
A friend in need: In February 2020, Phillip’s life changed forever when he publicly came out as gay, with Holly supporting him on the sofa
2023: From best friends to ‘barely speaking’
The pair’s relationship is said to have become strained in recent months.
They came under fire when they were accused of skipping the queue to see the Queen lying-in-state last September.
As they battled the backlash the pair then faced the news of Phillip’s brother Timothy Schofield.
The Mail’s Katie Hind has been told that at the heart of the fall-out is a dispute over whether Schofield confided in Holly that his brother Timothy, a police IT worker, faced charges of child sex offences.
Friends say Holly was in the dark until Phillip took a week’s leave from the ITV daytime show to avoid the limelight while the trial took place last month – something he is at pains to deny.
Timothy Schofield was convicted of 11 offences and will be sentenced on 19 May.
Sources close to Holly claim she is ‘deeply upset’ that she found out what was happening from a third party.
Following claims that they are ‘not as close as they once were’ and now barely speak off camera, Phillip broke his silence to insist that there has been no fallout with his co-host of 14 years.
Yet Holly was left blindsided after he released an extraordinary statement about their rumoured feud.
Awkward: On Thursday, the pair put on brave faces as they appeared on screen following claims they are ‘not as close as they once were’ and viewers felt they could pick up on tensions
As Phillip admitted that ‘the last few weeks haven’t been easy for us,’ sources close to Holly told MailOnline that she had no idea that Phil was going to make a statement. They added the first she saw of it was when it was published online.
Holly’s spokesman declined to comment when asked if she was kept in the dark over the court case. Phillip’s said it was ‘categorically untrue’.
Bosses are said to be in a major crisis, with reports Holly wants to pull the plug on their ITV partnership for good.
Controversy: Phillip’s younger brother Timothy was convicted of child sex offences
But Phillip has now spoken out on the reports their relationship has become strained following a string of controversies including Queuegate and his brother, Timothy, being convicted of child sex offences.
‘The last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us. As I have said before, Holly is my rock,’ Phil told The Sun.
‘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.’
The pair were reunited on the This Morning sofa this month and did their best to make it look carefree, bopping along to Lulu’s Boom Bang A Bang on Thursday’s show.
But the extra-bright smiles and jovial playing around were a pretence, the Mail understands, to publicly bat off claims that their once-close friendship had broken down to ‘literally nothing’.
In Phil’s absence from This Morning, Holly was paired with Alison Hammond and ITV bosses were said to be overjoyed by their chemistry and are now looking for more opportunities to pair them up.
And ITV favourite Holly has reportedly made it clear she wants to remain hosting the daytime show if Phil ever expressed an interest in leaving.
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