This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield, 61, might have been “put on edge” by the popularity and success of his co-host Holly Willoughby, 42, according to former BBC Radio 5 Live host Jane Garvey, 58.
The Dancing On Ice star’s exit from the network comes as he confessed to having an affair with a younger colleague.
ITV has since confirmed it did investigate rumours of a relationship between Phillip and an employee in 2020.
Holly has also slammed Phillip’s behaviour, describing how “hurt” she felt after her co-star had “lied to her” about the affair when she had apparently asked him.
In a new article for Radio Times, radio presenter Jane has described how “excruciatingly painful” it was to watch Holly and Phillip on the This Morning sofa in the week leading up to his departure.
Admitting she “couldn’t take my eyes off it”, Jane wrote: “We were gnawing on Hobnobs, intruding on private grief. I watched for three terrible days in a row.”
The Times Radio presenter went on to describe how important it had been for the show’s format that Holly and Phillip appeared to be “best buddies” – but how it became clear that this was no longer the case.
She continued: “Snark at daytime telly if you like, but perhaps you’ve never been a shift worker, housebound or a carer.
“For many it’s a lifeline. But that doesn’t mean you can take the audience for granted. They’re not fools. They can smell a rat.”
The broadcaster also noted how the pair had been part of a “traditional formula” of the “distinguished silver-fox type” next to the “younger, female co-presenter who generally had the decency to know her place”.
However, after joining the show, Holly started to earn just as much as her colleague and has made strides on her own in the world of Showbiz, co-presenting I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018, hosting Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof last year and even launching her own lifestyle brand Wylde Moon.
“She was very definitely Holly Willoughby, not that pretty blonde lady who sits there with Phil,” Jane said.
“But surely he was happy for her? After all, he had picked her as his sidekick after the departure of Fern Britton in 2009.
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“Still, I probably don’t need to tell you that if you’re going to earn megabucks for being professionally nice, you’ve got to be ruthless. If your TV partner gets a higher profile or more lines than you, even the most saintly of stars might feel a little on edge.”
Commenting on Phillip’s affair on Saturday, an ITV spokesman told Express.co.uk: “Further to our statement last night, ITV can confirm that when rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and an employee of ITV first began to circulate in early 2020 ITV investigated.
“Both parties were questioned and both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumours as did Phillip’s then agency YMU.
“In addition, ITV spoke to a number of people who worked on This Morning and were not provided with and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour.
“Phillip’s statement yesterday reveals that he lied to people at ITV, from senior management to fellow presenters, to YMU, to the media and to others over this relationship.”
It came after the broadcaster said they were “deeply disappointed by the admissions of deceit” made by Phillip on his social media pages.
“The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust. Philip made assurances to us which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down,” a spokesman said on Friday evening.
“We accept his resignation from ITV and therefore can confirm that he will not be appearing on ITV as had previously been stated.”
Read the whole interview with Jane by visiting www.radiotimes.com.
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