Lauren Windle offers a further update on Phillip Schofield’s axing from ITV follow revelations of an affair with a much younger colleague.


Source: Reuters

Two weeks ago I wrote an article explaining the facts of the reported feud between This Morning presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. At the time there were plenty of rumours and the public rift was hitting the front pages so it felt right to address it.

There we were thinking we had a pretty good grasp on the situation… we knew nothing. The whole thing has blown up in the last fortnight. Phillip has now been axed from the popular show and all his other ITV programmes (Dancing on Ice, The Cube, British Soap Awards), as it emerged that he had been having an affair with a much younger colleague. 

So, here’s a full timeline of events for those who are confused about what’s actually happened:

  • 2020: rumours circulated about Phillip’s relationship with a young male runner on the show but the press never published anything as ITV stepped in to deny them. They said they investigated but couldn’t find any evidence to support the claims.
  • Feb 2020: Phillip Schofield, who was married with two adult children, came out as gay on air with the support of co-presenter Holly Willoughby.
  • Sept 2022: Outrage that they “jumped the 12-hour queue” to see the Queen lying in state caused the public to turn on the popular pair and caused a rupture in their friendship.
  • March 2023: With their relationship thawing, Phillip’s younger brother Timothy stood trial for sexual offences involving a child. Phillip submitted a written statement to court, saying that his brother had told him about the crimes and Phillip had responded by telling him “never do it again”. Timothy was found guilty and Phillip stayed off air during the trial and after. Holly felt blindsided by the situation and was annoyed that he hadn’t told her before the news became public.
  • May 19, 2023: Phillip resigned from This Morning, saying in a statement: “I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on.” He was told he would still present a “peak time” show on ITV.
  • May 26, 2023: Phillip told the Daily Mail that he had had an “unwise but not illegal” romance with the younger runner, and he confessed to having lied about it to Holly, his family, the network and his agent. News continued to be drip fed to the public about the nature of the relationship; the runner was just a 15-year-old boy when he first met Phillip and it was Phillip who got him a job on This Morning when he was 19.
  • The news caused a media storm. Phillip was dropped by ITV and his agency. ITV have launched a full scale investigation and boss Carolyn McCall said in a letter to the UK culture secretary, Lucy Frazer: “Given Phillip’s admission of the extent of his deception the work will extend to cover any related issues that may emerge. This work will be carried out as quickly as possible and we will be happy to share the outcome.”

Holly Willoughby is due back on the show on Monday but the future of This Morning, its bosses and presenters is unclear as people wonder if they can survive the scandal.

When it comes to offering a biblical perspective on all this, I think it’s fair to say that Phillip would have benefitted from taking Jesus’ advice a while back. There are a number of decisions that he made that were, simply put, poor. The infidelity and the lies are clearly ill advised as both have their own place in the ten commandments. Also an older, more powerful and successful man, meeting a child and taking time to charm him and bring him opportunities over the years – sounds like grooming to me. The man may have been old enough to legally consent when they started their physical relationship, but can someone truly consent when they have been carefully prepared for another’s advances?

We don’t know what happened behind closed doors, and the man in question will not be speaking to give his side of events. He has requested anonymity in the press which he has been given. Phillip is probably right (unless there’s more we don’t know), his affair probably was “unwise but not illegal”, but is that what passes the bar for acceptable behaviour these days?

The affair probably was “unwise but not illegal”, but is that what passes the bar for acceptable behaviour these days?

My prayer is that we would all take this as a lesson. Something being technically legal – doesn’t make it the right thing to do. It does not make it moral. It does not make it ethical. It does not make it kind. It does not make it uplifting. If you want guidelines for being a good, community-minded person who leaves those around you better off… you don’t need the law, you need the Bible.

The Bible is clear about treating others in the way you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). It spells out that we need to prioritise kindness and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32) and that we shouldn’t gossip or corrupt or manipulate others (Ephesians 4:29). We shouldn’t celebrate another’s downfall (Proverbs 24:17) but build each other up (Romans 15:1-2). Will you get arrested if you don’t do this? Probably not. Being selfish is usually not illegal. But is that the point? Not at all.