ITV daytime stalwart Phillip Schofield has stepped down as presenter of This Morning after days of intense speculation over his relationship with co-host Holly Willoughby.

In a statement released on Saturday, the 61-year-old said he understood ITV had decided “the current situation cannot go on”.

Willoughby herself released a short statement, in which she said the sofa would not be the same without him.

The threat of a This Morning departure has felt imminent since rumours started swirling of a rift between the stars.

The pair used to be firm friends, with their families even taking annual holidays together.

Sky News takes a look at how their working relationship started and where the cracks started to show.

The recent alleged rift

17 April 2023: The first show after the Easter break should have seen both hosts back on the couch after Schofield took leave while his brother was on trial for child sexual offences.

But while Schofield thanked fans for their support as he returned to This Morning for the first time since his paedophile brother was convicted, Willoughby was absent.

She announced she would be away from the show for a week as she was ill with shingles.

Following his brother’s conviction, Schofield branded the crimes “despicable” and said: “As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a brother.”

10 May: The Sun reported Schofield and Willoughby were “barely speaking”. The newspaper cited “insiders” who claimed their relationship had “cooled” and issues had “rumbled for some time”.

12 May: Amid swirling rumours about the pair’s cooling relationship, Schofield hailed Willoughby as his “rock” while admitting “the last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us”.

In a statement, Schofield told the paper: “As I have said before, Holly is my rock. We’re the best of friends – as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone.

“Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her.”

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The co-hosts’ past relationship

2006: The pair first work together on ITV’s Dancing On Ice.

2009: Willoughby joins ITV’s This Morning, replacing Fern Britton. In his memoir, Schofield pinpointed a row between the co-hosts over the content of a show as the catalyst for Britton’s departure.

2011: Willoughby leaves Dancing On Ice and starts presenting The Voice, then on BBC1.

2017: Willoughby reportedly negotiates a pay rise to match Schofield’s salary of £600,000. She was reportedly on around £400,000 before that.

2018: Willoughby returns to Dancing On Ice.

2020: Schofield comes out as gay after 27 years of marriage.

Image:
This Morning co-hosts on the day Phillip Schofield came out on the programme

Willoughby interviews him about it on This Morning, telling him: “I will be by your side forever.”

She also posts a photograph of the two of them on Instagram, and writes: “Never been more proud of my friend than I am today.”

2022: The pair face accusations of queue jumping at the late Queen’s lying in state. More than 37,000 people signed a petition for them to be axed from This Morning.

Addressing the backlash, the hosts insist they were only there in a journalistic capacity and followed the rules set for media.