Former This Morning host Phillip Schofield received incredible support when he announced he was gay on live TV in February 2020 but has had a difficult journey since after he admitted to an ‘unwise’ affair, which left his career in tatters
It has been four years since Phillip Schofield sensationally came out to the nation and was met with immense support.
However, he has had a tumultuous journey in the years following, with a subsequent dramatic exit from ITV. So what is next for the TV stalwart?
The former This Morning and Dancing On Ice presenter emotionally announced he was gay on live TV in February 2020, as he sat on the sofa alongside then best pal Holly Willoughby. His voice trembled as he revealed that after 27 years of marriage to his wife Stephanie, he had come to terms with the fact he was instead attracted to the same sex.
PR expert Mayah Riaz said the star’s coming out was “inspiring.” She told the Mirror: “The way he chose to come out publicly was commendable, as he took control of his own narrative by sharing his truth in an emotional interview. This allowed him to be seen as authentic and speak directly to his audience, which garnered significant support from both the public and the LGBTQ+ community. The support he received was overwhelming, with many praising his bravery and honesty.”
However, Phillip’s journey since has been filled with challenges and controversies due to his affair being exposed. In May 2023, he admitted to an affair with a younger, male ITV colleague – that he lied to his bosses and family about – which left his career in tatters and This Morning plunged into scandal.
After years of cover-ups, with Phil allegedly lying to the whole ITV team – including best friend and co-presenter Holly Willoughby – his extra-marital affair finally came to light with the TV star sharing all in a bombshell statement.
He said: “The first thing I want to say is: I am deeply sorry for having lied to them, and to many others about a relationship that I had with someone working on This Morning. I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning.
“Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than just a friendship. That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over.”
Publicity guru Mayah continued: “When Phillip was forced to come clean about his affair, there was a negative reaction from the public. This was a complete opposite reaction he received to when he initially came out. He was seen as being dishonest with the public and this was the reason he received such a public backlash.
“Due to the nature of the affair being exposed, control was taken out of Phillip’s hands, therefore, he was trying his best to exercise damage control. Due to his affair dominating headlines for weeks, as well as impacting negatively the reputation of his co-presenter, Holly, he had to speak out.”
Speaking about how heartbreaking it would have been for the presenter to quit the daytime show, which he hosted from 2002, Mayah said he took one for the team. She said: “Phillip would have loved to have stayed at This Morning. However, his role was untenable and it was impacting on Holly’s reputation too.
“Viewers were switching off and losing trust in him. Also, he had to leave due to the friendship between him and Holly breaking, which appeared to be beyond comparable.” Despite the scandal, Mayah believes there is ‘potential’ for him to make a return to our screens.
But a TV appearance may not be his first step back into the limelight. “He is an experienced presenter and people have realised how this scandal has impacted his mental health, so may not be so harsh on him if he return,” Mayah explained. “His absence off screens has allowed time for reflection and personal growth. However, the timing and manner of his return would need to be carefully considered.”
The expert has suggested he could be well-suited to present for channels such as GB News or TalkTV. But before then, he could pursue presenting in a different format. “He could continue in presenting, leveraging his experience to connect with audiences,” Mayah suggested. “Though this might be via other media platforms, such as hosting podcasts or a radio slot.
“He could write books, where he can share his experiences and insights. Additionally, given his ability to connect with people and his relatability, Philip could potentially engage in advocacy work, focusing on LGBTQ+ issues and promoting inclusivity.”