Fresh off the back of official confirmation that Phillip Schofield had left his role as presenter of This Morning, as well as leaving ITV after confirming an affair with a younger man, it is understood that his co-host Holly Willoughby will also take a leave of absence.
Phil, who spent around 20 years hosting This Morning, had initially only confirmed a departure from the flagship daytime programme earlier this month amid rumours of a heated feud with Holly. Yet last week the presenter confirmed the shocking news that not only has he resigned from his duties with ITV with 'immediate effect', but that he had an affair with a younger male co-worker.
The statement, which was published through the Daily Mail on Friday, 26 May and revealed that he was also dropped by his agency, reads: "The first thing I want to say is: I am deeply sorry for having lied to them (the Daily Mail), 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."
Phillip continued: 'I am painfully conscious that I have lied to my employers at ITV, to my colleagues and friends, to my agents, to the media and therefore the public, and most importantly of all to my family. I am so very, very sorry, as I am for having been unfaithful to my wife."
Even though Phillip's leave from the show is permanent, Holly Willoughby is expected to return to her hosting duties. In the meantime, Dermot O'Leary and Alison Hammond presented the show as understudies - which includes that contentious tribute to Schofield.
Here is everything you need to know. Including the reason why Holly Willoughby is taking a break from This Morning and when she is expected to return.
Why did Phillip Schofield leave This Morning?
After months of rumours that both Holly and Phill had been embroiled in a heated feud, Schofield sensationally announced that he had quit the ITV daytime show on Saturday (20 May).
Bringing an end to his 20-year-long run as host of This Morning, Phillip Schofield wrote on Instagram: "I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story. Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind.
"I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love. So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me – especially This Morning’s amazing viewers – and I’ll see you all for the Soap Awards next month.”
Speculation first started when Phillip took pre-planned leave from the show around the time that his brother, Timothy Schofield, faced a criminal trial over sex abuse charges. He was convicted of 11 sexual offences involving a child in total, including two counts of sexual activity with a child that saw him jailed for 12 years.
Following the confirmation from Phil that he had indeed been embroiled in an affair with a fellow ITV colleague, which has been heavily scrutinised by former co-workers like Eamonn Holmes, he assured that it was not the reason behind him leaving This Morning.
Holly also took time off in April to recover from shingles. All of this followed heaps of criticism from the public and media over claims the duo had skipped the queue to see the late Queen Elizabeth II lying in state back in September.
A permanent replacement for Phillip Schofield is yet to be confirmed.
What did Holly Willoughby say about Phillip Schofield leaving ITV and This Morning?
Reacting to the news that her co-host of over a dozen years had left the programme, Holly Willoughby first issued the following statement: "It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him.”
Upon the Phillip Schofield announcement that he had resigned from ITV and confirmed a relationship with a younger colleague, Holly posted the following reaction on Instagram: "When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not. It's been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie."
Why is Holly Willoughby taking a break from This Morning and will she return?
In the wake of Schofield's decision, Holly Willoughby will not be appearing on This Morning as she has decided to take a break from the show.
Holly has decided to take her half-term break early. It has been confirmed that this is not the end of her run on the programme and she will indeed return to front This Morning soon.
When is Holly Willoughby expected to return to This Morning?
ITV bosses have confirmed that Holly Willoughby will return to her normal duties as host of This Morning from Monday, 5 June.