Phil and Holly: is this the end for the nation’s favourite duo?

This Morning hosts facing ‘tabloid feeding frenzy’ amid rumours of a falling out

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield illustration
Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield are said to be having a ‘relationship crisis’
(Image credit: Illustrated/Getty Images)

Speculation is rife that the relationship between “This Morning” darlings Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby is on the rocks, with rumours of behind-the-scenes tension.

The “golden couple of daytime TV” are having a “relationship crisis”, said Anita Singh, arts and entertainment editor of The Telegraph. “This is the duo who have spent the past decade-and-a-half describing each other as ‘best friends’ in gushing social media posts,” said Singh, “who holidayed together each year; and whose giggly on-screen chemistry was for so long a hit with audiences, especially when they partied so hard after winning a National Television Award that they rolled up to work the following morning without having gone to bed.”

But now there are rumours that Schofield is “on his way out” of the show, “ending a 14-year partnership that once looked unbreakable”.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

‘Sickly sweet and then sour’

Three recent events “probably explain the ‘strains’ in their relationship”, wrote Andrew Billen for The Times.

The first was when Schofield came out as gay in 2020. “There were suggestions”, said Billen, that the host’s announcement was “less voluntary than he was letting on” and viewers were “surely entitled to wonder whether he had been entirely upfront with them”.

Then, last year, the press accused Schofield and Willoughby of “leap-frogging the queue for the Queen’s coffin”, bringing Willoughby her first taste of bad publicity, and, last month, Schofield’s brother Tim was convicted of sexual offences against children. Willoughby was reportedly angry she had not been warned of it.

A report in The Sun that Schofield has hired a lawyer and a PR expert did little to dampen the gossip.

Now it is Schofield’s “This Morning” career that “is lying in state on a catafalque and the queue to view it currently runs to 10 miles”, said The Guardian’s Marina Hyde. Viewers of Monday’s programme claimed they could feel the tension, although “these daytime shows often have the feel of a hostage video”, she added.

“The nation’s favourite cocktail” is “on the rocks”, said Hyde. It was “sickly sweet at first and then quite sour”.

Just a rough patch?

Television hosts “sentenced to the morning shift face many challenges”, sympathised Billen in The Times, including “being on air at a time when few are at their most social”.

“Getting up in the dark is grim, going to bed early dull,” he wrote. “To additionally be expected to look good, conduct examinations of a dozen guests and feel warmth towards your co-presenter is to ask a lot.” So, “let us hope this is a hiccup, a rough patch in an otherwise blissful Phil and Holly union”.

To make things harder, “viewers have been tuning into the ITV chat show like armchair Poirots, scrutinising every sideways glance or rictus grin for the signs of poorly concealed fury”, said The Independent’s culture reporter Louis Chilton. Schofield has “dismissed the idea of any bad blood between them” and “both presenters have smiled through this week’s broadcasts as if the ongoing tabloid feeding frenzy was a forgotten dream”.

It is a “potentially messy situation” but they “lost their audience’s sympathy months ago” after they skipped the queue to see the Queen, he said. If the rumours are true, “This Morning” will need an overhaul. Given its “peach of a time slot, there’ll be no shortage of presenters queuing up to replace them”, said Chilton. “If only they can make sure to wait their turn.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.