…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
Once considered morning television’s golden duo, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby faced a tumultuous end to their time presenting together on This Morning.
Their on-screen banter and chemistry had been widely praised, but by their final week, they had become the subject of mockery even in the House of Commons.
The Fall from Grace
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden compared Schofield and Willoughby’s supposed turbulent relationship to that of Labour counterparts Angela Rayner and her leader.
Dowden suggested that the duo’s camaraderie on camera was merely a facade, with underlying tensions evident off-screen.
This comparison marked a significant decline for the once-revered duo.
Viral Moments and Strong Friendship
Schofield and Willoughby had enjoyed viral moments, capturing viewers’ attention and affection.
Their infectious laughter during a chef’s humorous remark, their emotional Covid-proof hug using a “cuddle curtain” during the pandemic, and their tipsy appearance after an awards ceremony were all examples of their popular on-screen dynamic.
Viewership numbers remained strong, and their friendship appeared to strengthen over the years, leading them to even go on holidays together.
Schofield praised Willoughby for her support when he came out as gay in 2020, expressing his gratitude for her kindness and wisdom.
PR Crisis and Personal Challenges
The duo faced their first major public relations crisis in September, when they were criticized for allegedly skipping a lengthy queue during their visit to Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state.
Although they were granted press access like many other journalists, they became the target of public anger.
Another blow came when Schofield’s brother, Timothy, was found guilty of sexual offenses involving a child.
Willoughby reportedly had no prior knowledge of the trial until Schofield asked for time off.
The case itself and the lack of warning about it reportedly upset Willoughby.
Speculations of a Feud and Frostiness
Upon Schofield’s return to the show, critics and viewers noticed an apparent frostiness between the two presenters.
Speculative headlines and rumors swirled around their relationship.
Schofield released a statement acknowledging the challenging period they had experienced, asserting that they were still best friends.
However, reports suggested that Willoughby felt blindsided by the statement, leading to further speculation about their dynamic.
Departure and Potential Replacements
Schofield ultimately announced his departure from This Morning, with immediate effect.
Although officially stated as a resignation, reports suggested he was actually let go by the network.
The BBC speculated that the significant age gap between Schofield (61) and Willoughby (42) may have played a role in ITV’s decision, but other factors were likely considered.
Willoughby’s industry connections and her husband’s successful TV production company may have contributed to ITV’s desire to keep her on the show.
What Lies Ahead?
PR experts suggested that the controversy surrounding Schofield and Willoughby may have been exploited by those vying for potential replacements, leading to a reevaluation of the show’s format.
ITV may prioritize keeping Willoughby satisfied to prevent her from joining a rival broadcaster.
As the dust settles, the search for new hosts and the reshaping of This Morning may present opportunities for other TV personalities to step into the duo’s shoes.
The unraveling of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby’s partnership on This Morning has captivated audiences, but the future of the popular daytime show remains uncertain.
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