When The Mail on Sunday attempted to publish details of the unrest among staff behind the cameras of This Morning in April 2021, ITV commissioned a high-priced London lawyer to kill the story.
The broadcaster insisted that claims his working environment was ‘toxic and unpleasant’ were untrue – and that there was no culture of fear.
Last Monday, even Phillip Schofield took to Instagram to defend the show he was kicked from last month, saying, “This Morning IS the best show to work, with the best people. In all the years I worked there, there was no toxicity.’
But days after ITV announced it had launched an independent external investigation to be conducted by a top lawyer, The Mail on Sunday can expose the extent of This Morning’s toxic culture and how some staff found the atmosphere so frightening they had to undergo therapy .
Others have had to sign non-disclosure agreements after pay packages were arranged to “cover up” what a former employee described as the “culture of bullying and toxic blame.”
Expelled: Last Monday, Phillip Schofield took to Instagram to defend the show he was ousted from last month
Toxic: The broadcaster insisted claims that the working environment was ‘toxic and unpleasant’ were untrue
Sexism has also been cited by a former employee.
This paper can also reveal that This Morning’s editor, Martin Frizell, was the subject of an investigation in 2019 when a senior female member of staff – a single mother – raised his behavior with ITV executives. The channel said no evidence was found after the probe.
Our file comes after the show’s former medical expert, Dr Ranj Singh, revealed that he too had raised concerns about Mr Frizell’s behavior with daytime network head Emma Gormley.
An investigation has been carried out and again no abuse was found. The Doctor then claims that he has been “guided” out of his role.
Dr. Singh spoke out after ITV’s top management – CEO Carolyn McCall, Television Director Kevin Lygo, Ms Gormley and Mr Frizell – all insisted they had no idea Schofield had been involved with a much younger colleague. They also say they were unaware that the junior member of staff was subsequently transferred to another ITV show, Loose Women, where another man lost his job to make way for him. But their insistence that they were unaware of the whole scandal has sparked anger among ITV staff.
On Tuesday, Martin Goswami, director of strategic partnerships and distribution for the ITV group, will be questioned by a cross-party Commons selection committee about the poison at the heart of the channel. The next day, Dame Carolyn is questioned by the MPs.
Meanwhile, several former employees have shared horror stories with The Mail on Sunday.
One woman said, “I worked there for six years. I have felt a huge sense of relief that this story has finally come out as it deals with abuses of power and cover-ups.
“I left This Morning with a financial payout and had to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to say I wouldn’t talk about the culture of bullying and toxic blaming I went through there.
“Fifteen years later, I still can’t watch the show, and even hearing the theme song gives me a cold sweat. I won’t go into details, but my healing from years of hell—when I wished I’d get run over by a bus on my walk from the office to the studio—begins and ends here with this simple admission that signing a non-disclosure agreement to cover up toxicity is not okay.”
A man in his twenties said: ‘When Phillip said things like ‘We’re all one big happy family’ I thought that was a lot of bullshit***.
“He doesn’t know what researchers and assistant producers go through, and I had to quit. It seriously affected my mental health. I was belittled and not supported.’
The man, who claims to have been demoted from assistant producer to researcher, said he only lasted five months. “After I got a job at This Morning, I felt like I won the lottery,” he said, “but within weeks I felt undermined and ready to fail at every turn.” They wanted me out because my face didn’t fit, I was too quiet, not loud or flashy.
“My producer was a bully. It killed my confidence and ITV offered no support other than to suggest that this was my problem to deal with. I blame the culture at ITV, of which Phil was just a part. They saw me as an outsider because I was from the Northwest. There was a culture that if you weren’t part of the clique you were persona non grata and I felt the hostility almost from the start.”
He described the culture on This Morning as “toxic, highly competitive and cut-throat” and claimed that Schofield was “ignoring” junior staff, adding: “It’s a top-down organisation… and if you’re closer to the bottom, don’t don’t you think it doesn’t mean anything, you’re just disposable.
Another former staff member who left in 2019 told bosses in her exit report that “there is a culture of harassment at This Morning,” adding that she witnessed a number of incidents where she felt one of the bosses was being unreasonable and unkind to a female producer and it created a climate of fear.’ She added, “I’ve also overheard sexist comments.”
Behind the scenes, the program has been on the back burner for the past few weeks. Under very public pressure for ITV to ax This Morning, staff were assured at a meeting that they had ‘nothing to worry about’. But the tensions are palpable.
Bosses were dissatisfied that Carol Vorderman, a former host who participates in the program’s newspaper reviews, responded to Dr.
“It went down like a lead balloon,” says a source at the channel.
“But why shouldn’t she be allowed to support a friend? Is that where we are now?’
Last week, Mr Frizell told a journalist that ‘everything will be made public’ from the KC’s report.
An ITV spokeswoman said last night: ‘ITV and the This Morning team are incredibly proud of the 12.5 hours of award-winning live television they produce each week. It takes a huge team (and) is a fast-paced environment.
“We have robust mechanisms for making complaints and those who are are being investigated appropriately.
“What we’re hearing from the This Morning team is that they just don’t recognize the image some are painting about the show.”