Phillip Schofield latest: Ex-This Morning host regrets affair and has had ‘suicidal thoughts’
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Phillip Schofield has finally come forward with the details of his affair that landed him in controversy, which he said has cost him his career. In an ‘emotional and frank’ interview with the BBC on Thursday (June 1), the former This Morning host said he has “lost everything” and does not see a future for his career.
The 61-year-old last week confessed to an affair in which he formed a relationship with a “much younger” male colleague on ITV whilst still married to his wife. And now, he said the affair was “a grave error” and he “shouldn’t have done it” as he battles with suicidal thoughts since the news broke out.
He insisted the pair were “not boyfriends” and they only had five or six romantic encounters over a few months, adding they had a ‘consensual’ relationship but admitted it was his fault as he was older.
He also cast doubts over his future in his TV career, adding: “I have to talk about television in the past tense, which breaks my heart…I have lost everything. What am I going to do with my days? I see nothing ahead of me but blackness, and sadness, and regret, and remorse, and guilt. I did something very wrong, and then I lied about it consistently."
Referring to his former colleague, he said the man was “an innocent party”. He said: “I was older, I should have known better. [The affair] was consensual, but it was my fault." Schofield, who appeared distressed and exhausted, and spoke quietly as he said he was "desperately sorry".
According to him, his colleague was 20 years old when he first had any kind of sexual contact with him. He also confirmed he first met the man when he was invited to appear as part of an event at a drama school many years ago.
He and the man then began communicating on Twitter after they followed each other after the event. Schofield said the man asked for advice on working in the TV industry. The presenter characterised their communication as "completely innocent backwards-and-forwards over a period of time, about a job, about careers".
He asked: "What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with talking to someone no matter what age they are, does that mean if you’re following anyone on Twitter that you don’t give advice?"
He continued: "I’ve done it all my life. I’m best friends with the people who got me into television, and I’ve always believed in paying it forward, so I didn’t think about it."
Schofield said their interactions turned romantic "a few months" after the man began working on This Morning. He said: "We become mates. And, you know, you go around studios, you hang out together, you know, chat to each other, that sort of stuff.
"In my dressing room one day, something happened…I kissed someone in the workplace, which led on to a little bit more." The TV presenter said he got the man jobs on other shows he worked on "because he was a very good runner, and it’s always nice to have a team around you of people that you know".
He added: "I fully appreciate there is a massive age gap, but that happens in life. I think there is an enormous amount of homophobia that happens to be male, but if it was male-female then it wouldn’t be such a scandal.
His admission of the affair raised questions about the power balance between the pair and whether or not Schofield had taken advantage of his position. He said: "I understand that, and it’s a very valid question to put to me. If it’s an abuse of power, it’s not in my nature to be that person, but of course it could be perceived as that. But that wasn’t how it felt at the time."
Schofield then paid tribute to his daughters, who he said had helped him cope with suicidal thoughts in recent days. He said: "Last week, if my daughters hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here. They’ve been by my side every moment because they’re scared to let me out of their sight."
ITV previously said it had investigated reports of a relationship, but that both parties had repeatedly denied it. Asked how much his colleagues knew, including co-host Holly Willoughby, Schofield said: "Nobody ever asked me about being gay. When the rumour (about the affair) got bigger, then we were both asked."
Asked if he loved his former colleague, Schofield said "No, we were just mates… we weren’t boyfriends, we weren’t in a relationship." He also denied making the man sign a non-disclosure agreement and said he would be free to speak to the media if he wanted to.
Schofield added that, contrary to some press reports, the man was not regularly taken by taxis between Schofield’s London home and the This Morning studios. He said: "He didn’t frequently come to my flat, he came to the flat once, to my recollection, he didn’t stay over.
Schofield also denied he had organised for the man to be moved off This Morning to work on another ITV daytime programme when their relationship ended. He said: "Absolutely categorically not - he was a really good colleague and runner, very good. He applied to go to [another ITV programme] and got the job entirely on his own merits.”
Schofield also emphatically denied a claim that a newspaper had done a deal with him and his management in 2019, where the media outlet allegedly agreed not to write the story about the young man in return for the exclusive interview about him coming out as gay.
"Absolutely categorically untrue," Schofield said, adding that he was encouraged to do an interview with the Sun by a media advisor as part of his announcement.
Schofield said telling his wife Stephanie Lowe about his affair "was the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had to have with her”. He added: "She is extremely disappointed because I lied to her as well".