Phillip Schofield was once so powerful at ITV that he could make or break the careers of anyone who worked at the channel, whether they were in front of or behind the camera.
As many network employees said: he ran the show. And his influence was not limited to This Morning, the show he hosted for 21 years, but to the entire network.
“What Phillip wanted, Phillip got,” says one former staff member. ‘If he didn’t want someone there, then they would leave. If he wanted something to change, they changed it.
So when Schofield decided he didn’t want to risk having a much younger ex-lover reveal details of his affair, he hired lawyers to negotiate a confidentiality agreement, which the individual involved voluntarily signed as part of an agreement to pay a substantial sum. and the document was set aside never to be mentioned again.
Given the power he wielded, Schofield was no doubt confident that, like the affair itself, the existence of this NDA, while perfectly legal, would not become public knowledge.
But when asked about its existence in recent days, Schofield’s lawyer was clear and confirmed that not only had an agreement been signed but a six-figure payment had been handed over.
And now, for the first time, the Mail can reveal the terrible impact the affair had on the life of the person concerned – who was, after all, 34 years younger than Schofield.
Phillip Schofield with his lover and Holly Willoughby on the sofa This Morning
The former producer, who left ITV with a payout in 2020, has seen his life turn upside down since May last year when Schofield, after being confronted about lies he had told about the affair, issued a statement to the Mail confirming that there was room taken.
A week later, in a bid to rehabilitate himself, the presenter gave an interview to BBC journalist Amol Rajan, before retiring from public life to lick his wounds and spend time with his elderly mother.
Meanwhile, the young man, after being forced to abandon a career he loved, is still trying to rebuild his life.
While he has never been named by the mainstream media, given rumors circulating on social media platforms, he has required legal help to maintain his privacy and it is no secret that the star, once thought to be worth £20 million, has financed a lot. of those expenses.
A former colleague said: “He had been involved in ITV for most of his adult life, had friends there, a support network and, above all, absolutely loved the job.”
“Things went wrong with Phillip, he moved on to Loose Women, which was apparently a promotion, but then after a short time that came to an end.
“Now it turns out that they have gagged him. It all seems very unfair. He’s been struggling for some time, he had a lot of friends at ITV and we often think of him and hope he’s okay.
“It’s been tumultuous for him, just when he was getting his life together.”
Friends of the man, known as Person to sign a confidentiality agreement.
“No one says they want [speak out] but not having the option is cruel,’ the friend added.
Of course, person X is not the only person who has lost out from the affair. Schofield himself had to resign from all his ITV commitments, lost lucrative brand deals and was stripped of all his charity roles.
He has to spend his days in the west London enclave of Chiswick, where he has lived since separating from his wife Stephanie Lowe in 2020, while his former ITV colleagues continue successful television careers.
Phillip Schofield was seen for the first time since it emerged he paid the broker he was in a relationship with a six-figure sum and asked him to sign a confidentiality agreement. He was seen walking around west London with a new puppy.
Only on Friday would you have been hard-pressed to miss the channel’s announcement that his former partner Ben Shephard will be replacing him on This Morning alongside Cat Deeley.
Industry insiders say there is now “literally no chance of recovery.”
The seeds of his dramatic fall from grace were sown more than a decade ago when a mutual friend of Schofield and his wife Stephanie asked him if he could give a talk at a drama school in the northwest of England, where a 15-year-old student – An old relative of the friend was a student.
Happy to oblige, Schofield, then in his late 40s, made time in his busy schedule to make the trip and, as expected, his visit caused great excitement.
As always, Schofield was enthusiastic, encouraging and generous with his time and certainly inspired the teenager whose relative had arranged the visit.
The boy expressed interest in a career in television, and when the time was right, Schofield set up an interview for him, but nothing more.
Bright and handsome, although in some ways young for his age, the young man made a good impression when he was finally invited to London and began working on This Morning as a teenager. About a year later, he began his affair.
While all of her colleagues deny that they were aware of the affair, there were certainly clues. Schofield decided to invite the man, now 27 (the same age as Schofield’s youngest daughter), to glitzy industry functions, often to the astonishment of other station employees. One year, for example, he was a guest on the ITV VIP boat to the National Television Awards.
Phillip Schofield came out as gay on This Morning with the support of Holly Willoughby in February 2020.
At one particular awards ceremony in 2019, she surprised her ITV colleagues by, as one put it, “declaring her love for Phil in no uncertain terms” as she entered the channel’s box.
Shortly after, he was moved to the lunchtime talk show Loose Women. The network later insisted it was a promotion, but others say they didn’t give him much choice in the matter. Whatever the truth, it meant Schofield didn’t have to deal with the consequences of his ill-advised relationship on a daily basis.
Now that the world knows about the NDA, it would be intriguing to know what the celebrities who spoke publicly in support of Schofield are thinking at the time the scandal broke.
Sir Elton John jumped to his defence, saying the whole scandal was “homophobic”, while actor Rupert Everett said the media should “drop” the story, despite ITV launching an independent investigation into the matter.
Jeremy Clarkson also spoke out in favor of Schofield, stating that “no crime had been committed” and, as recently as last weekend, Schofield’s former ITV colleague Lorraine Kelly admitted she was “heartbroken” when he was revealed the relationship.
“It’s a shame that the incredible career he has had ends like this,” he told the Sunday Times. He added that “everyone lost their minds a little bit” during the scandal.
What cannot be denied is that the lives of two men are in tatters and the nation has lost one of its most notable broadcasters.
And all because Schofield made the fateful decision to travel north from his home in Oxfordshire to share his experience with some eager young drama students.