Phillip Schofield: his downfall from 'Queuegate' to 'unwise not illegal'
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I’m grateful to Holly Willoughby for reaching out from the sofa of ITV’s This Morning to check in with such scripted, perfectly rehearsed, PR sanctioned sincerity. Up until that moment, I just didn’t know what to think.
Willoughby’s address to the nation will surely go down as one of the most cringe-inducing moments in TV - one that Channel5 are already planning to broadcast at least a dozen times in its next ‘When TV Goes Wrong’ compilation. The only issue is whether it comes before or after Philip Schofield’s equally perfectly rehearsed and delivered “unwise but not illegal” line which will follow him for the rest of his career, if indeed, he still has one.
Television has always lived in its own wee bubble, but the events which “rocked” - cliche copyright of every tabloid - the morning show have eclipsed the tide of froth surrounding even Meghan and Harry.
In a nutshell, Schofield had an affair with a younger colleague, lied about it - the two kinda go hand in hand - got rumbled, resigned, and sparked a level of coverage that remains barely one notch below hysterical.
I get he was the darling of daytime telly - that strange place of pastel coloured sofas, banal chat, recipes, fashion, and interviews with fallen stars seeking public redemption. Two schools of thought. Whatever went on is either a police matter or it isn’t. Unwise but not illegal - but that vast canyon in between has been filled with gossip, speculation, and enough bile to drag an entire continent to the bottom of the ocean.
Judging by the former colleagues weighing in with their size 12s, Schofield wasn’t not universally popular, but the sound of grinding axes says more about the ghastly Dan Wootton, the pompous Eamon Holmes, the permanently furious ‘celebrity cleaner’ Kim Woodburn and their cast of hangers-on.
The press is having a field day because, boy, do we love seeing a celebrity fall from grace. In truth, they’ve been waiting for this moment since ‘Queuegate’ when Schofield and Willoughby were accused of skipping the queue at the Queen’s lying in state. In the court of public opinion they were found guilty and sentenced to lifelong mockery. Rightly or wrongly they were now ‘too big for their boots.’ and no among of whining could change the narrative.
But, that’s now gone to a whole new level on social media where Schofield’s lawyers would need to employ a small army if they wanted to deal with every single malicious, defamatory tweet and post about what happened. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issue - or, like most folk, don’t care that much - it’s beyond brutal.
We’ve become a horrible, two-faced society, one which tweets #BeKind and then joins the pile-on to inflict more misery on someone we don’t even know, but boy do we love seeing a celebrity fall from grace.
I suspect it will be a lot easier to relaunch This Morning - and they will so long as it rakes in advertisers’ cash - with the same content but different presenters sitting on another pastel-coloured sofa doing pretty the same content than it will be for Schofield to resurrect his career. Unwise may well be the under-statement of the century.