This Morning viewers mock tribute to Holly Willoughby as they say she is ‘forever remembered’ following her resignation: ‘She’s not dead!’
In a dramatic year for daytime TV show This Morning, Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby have now left the sofa they shared together for more than 10 years.
Schofield fell from grace quickly after admitting an affair with a much younger co-star while still married to his wife, and lost his talents before leaving ITV altogether.
Willoughby said her decision in October was to spend more time ‘for me and my family’, and the broadcaster’s managing director for media and entertainment Kevin Ligo said she ‘remains a much-loved member of the ITV family’ and hopes to work with her in the future.
Here’s a timeline of how the events unfolded:
– February 2020: Schofield came out as gay after almost 27 years of marriage to wife Stephanie, in an emotional chat with host and long-time friend Willoughby. A couple is hugging on the sofa.
Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield have faced criticism
September 2022: The co-hosts are facing criticism over claims they skipped the line for Queen Elizabeth II to lie down while attending a segment of This Morning as members of the media.
April 17, 2023: The first hint that something is wrong comes in the first show after the Easter break. Schofield and Willoughby are set to be on the sofa after he took a leave of absence while his brother Timothy is on trial for child sex offences. While Schofield is back in the studio, Willoughby is away, saying she has shingles.
May 10: The Sun reports that the pair are “barely speaking”.
May 11: Schofield calls Holly “his rock” and says they’re “best friends.”
May 15: The couple put on a united front on This Morning and did not address press stories about their relationship.
May 18: Schofield presents what will turn out to be his final episode this morning.
May 20: Schofield is stepping down from this morning with immediate effect. ITV says it will continue to present “peak-time shows”, including The British Soap Awards and a new prime-time series. Willoughby released a statement saying the couch “won’t feel the same without it.”
Hosted by Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond
May 21: Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond have been announced to host the show on Monday 22 May, as Willoughby takes an early half-term break. It was announced that he will return to host duties on June 5.
May 22: O’Leary and Hammond host the show and hail Schofield as ‘one of the best broadcasters this country has ever had’.
May 26: Schofield admits ‘unwise but not illegal’ affair with much younger colleague and resigns from ITV. He confirms the relationship began while he was still with his wife and says he will not be hosting the British Soap Awards, his last public engagement. He apologizes for lying about the relationship. He is rejected by his talent agency IMU.
May 27: Willoughby accuses Schofield of lying to her about the affair, saying his admission was “very damaging”. ITV said the broadcaster “was not provided with and found no evidence of a relationship other than hearsay and rumours” when it looked into the matter in 2020.
May 28: Former This Morning doctor Dr Ranj Singh says the show is “toxic”, adding that he raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” when he worked there two years ago and then felt “outed” for being a whistleblower. ITV responds by saying an external and independent adviser has been appointed to carry out a review following the complaint, which found “no evidence of bullying or discrimination”.
Dame Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive of ITV
May 29: Schofield has released a statement denying ‘toxicity’ on This Morning and saying it’s the same handful of people who are angry with me or the show who seem to have the loudest voices. Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes claims there was a ‘total cover-up’ at ITV over the affair and, in an interview with GB News, says Willoughby should follow Schofield ‘from the door’.
May 31: In the letter, seen by the PA news agency, ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said the broadcaster had instructed a lawyer to carry out an external review of its handling of the Schofield affair. She adds that Jane Mulcahy KC, of Blackstone Chambers, “will conduct an external audit to establish the facts”.
June 1: Dame Carolyn has been called to testify before a parliamentary committee on June 14 to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and handling complaints following Schofield’s departure.
The Sun publishes an interview with Schofield in which he says he feels sorry for Willoughby, but owes his “biggest apology” to his ex-lover. He reiterates that he did not ‘groom’ the man, and that although his wife was ‘very, very angry’ about the affair, his daughters ‘looked after him’ during the conflict.
June 2: The BBC is broadcasting its own interview with Schofield, conducted by media editor Amol Ryan. Schofield says he ‘lost everything’ and the affair had a ‘catastrophic effect’ on his mind. Speaking about the criticism he faced, he says he sees “nothing in front of him” but “blackness and sadness”, and now talks about his career on television “in the past tense”. Schofield is also calling on the media to leave the younger man alone.
June 5: Willoughby makes an emotional return to This Morning, saying she felt ‘shaken, upset, disappointed and worried’ after the revelations about Schofield. The episode averaged 839,000 viewers, the highest daily average for the show since Coronation Day on May 8, and had a peak audience of 1.6 million.
June 14: ITV boss Dame Carolyn is being questioned by MPs along with ITV chief executive Kevin Ligo and general counsel and company secretary Kyle Mullins about Schofield’s departure. Dame Carolyn told the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee that allegations of a toxic culture on This Morning were not recognized by the broadcaster, saying it was deeply disappointing.
September 5: This Morning loses its Best Daytime Show at the National Television Awards to The Repair Shop after being on a winning streak in the daytime category for the last few years.
September 13: Dame Carolyn updates the CMS committee and says the external review is being led by Jane Mulcahy KC and has “conducted a number of witness interviews, with further interviews to continue throughout September”.
October 6: A mall security officer was remanded in custody for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill Willoughby. Gavin Plumb, 36, was charged at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court with soliciting a man named David Nelson to commit murder and abetting a kidnapping between October 2 and 5 in Harlow, Essex. The second man was due to arrive in the UK next week from the US, the court heard.
October 10: Willoughby announced her retirement from presenting This Morning after 14 years, saying on Instagram that it was an ‘honour to just be a part of his story’. Following Willoughby’s announcement, Mr Ligo said: ‘She remains a much-loved member of the ITV family and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.’