Phillip Schofield: I know what he's really like when off-camera, says Bev Turner
Having been a guest on This Morning many times over the years I had the opportunity to observe the Holly and Phil dynamic in action and recently, something had clearly changed.
From day one, Phil clearly felt he was the ‘driver’, whilst Holly had to be content as the ‘passenger.’
She has always been pretty in the traditional, non-threatening way that most blokes like: big eyes and big boobs; quick to smile at her male co-presenter’s jokes and never at risk of saying anything remotely controversial or opinionated – he kind of girl-woman that some TV bosses just love.
But recently, it was clear from her on-air body-language that she was growing tired of this old-fashioned role-playing. She was caught rolling her eyes when Phil spoke over her yet again, controlling an interview that she evidently wanted to steer. Was this because tensions were bubbling behind the scenes due to the potential fall-out from Philip’s brother’s looming paedophile court-case? Perhaps.
But also, in 2020 Holly started her own business, Wyldemoon and like celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Rhiannon in America, has evidently grown-up through the challenge of developing her own business: a wellness brand which offers “Lifestyle and guidance to help you reconnect with yourself.”
It’s easy to take pot-shots at an Instagram feed which posts about the female menstrual cycle and the lunar calendar, but Holly has captured a zeitgeist: how to look after your mental and physical health in an increasingly disconnected world by tapping into the forces of nature. It might sound cheesy but it’s a business-model paved with gold. I, for one, have been surprised by the maturity of the brand and its content.
Personally, I’d have preferred Holly to have found such depths of philosophical contemplation during the pandemic when she was actively contributing to the demise of a nation’s mental wellbeing by peddling unnecessary fear on TV every-day and hugging Phil through a ridiculous plastic sheet. They were two of the key perpetrators of fear, encouraging the theatre of the absurd whilst people locked themselves up at home and daytime TV viewing figures rocketed.
I found myself on the receiving end of that show’s obsession with Covid-19 when I tried to explain some hard, scientific facts about the so-called vaccine’s inability to halt transmission of the Sars-Covid-2 virus.
In a clip which went viral and continues to pop up on social channels to this day, Dermot O’Leary and Matthew Wright tried to shout me down about how “the greatest minds in science” had developed the drug and why would I be so cynical? I answered “Because of the facts. There is no long-term data.” The silence of Alison Hammond - a strong woman who I adore - said more than the blokes trying to shut me up.
But what of Phil throughout that whole time?...Phil did what Phil does: toe the channel’s line; makes presenting a live TV show look easy and keep his cards close to his chest. In person, he was always tricky to read.
Admittedly, when you’re hosting a daily live show, there is not much time to chat with guests who pop in and out of the studio. But when hosting To The Point on GB News, I always make an effort to shake hands with new guests (the regulars will not escape without a hug!) not only because it’s important to make guests feel relaxed and welcome, but because it’s simply polite.
I was on the show on the day that they announced the revelation about his sexuality. We were told, as we waited in the Green Room, that there was about to be a big story. Kevin Lygo of ITV was in the building; Phil’s lovely managers from the Peter Powell-owned James Grant agency were there which was unusual and when Holly and Phil sat on the sofa to deliver the worst kept secret in showbiz you could hear a pin drop.
All I could think about was his wife and kids…plus which newspaper must have threatened to out him in order for Schofield to take matters in his own hands so publicly.
But Phil always struck me as guarded – even after his gay revelation was made public. This is unusual in TV presenters who tend towards the heart-on-your-sleeve extrovert types.
Of course, when someone is that recognisable, they can develop a veneer to protect their privacy (or maybe he just didn’t like me!) but on a couple of occasions I tried to initiate conversations about friends who had moved to a home very close to his in the Oxfordshire countryside but felt the chat was quickly cauterised by him. Similarly, when we realised he had moved to a home very close to mine, there was little swapping of local knowledge.
If I was being suspicious, I’d say he had the energy of a man who wasn’t being completely honest. It might be exaggerating to say that he was ‘hiding something,’ but he certainly was not an open book.
Now, the man who hosted the most successful daytime TV show in British history will be drawing up the next chapter of his own life: can he avoid any backlash from his brother’s sexual assault conviction and continue with a staggeringly lucrative TV career? Or will there be more revelations to come about his own life?
Either way, Holly’s moon is rising and Schofield is now the one being eclipsed.