Alison Hammond, a presenter on the popular TV programme This Morning, has become emotional on air while discussing the recent departure of her former colleague Phillip Schofield. Schofield has expressed concerns that his career may be over after admitting to an affair with a younger male coworker. During Friday’s episode, Hammond acknowledged Schofield’s apology and urged the public not to be overly critical of his actions.
Schofield, 61 years old, left the ITV show last week after confessing to having lied about the affair with a male colleague, whom he first met when the young man was 15 years old and helped him enter the industry. ITV has since appointed a barrister to lead a review into the handling of the brief relationship.
This week, This Morning has been hosted by Hammond and Dermot O’Leary instead of the usual presenters, Schofield and Holly Willoughby. O’Leary acknowledged that Schofield’s actions were wrong but also expressed concern for his mental health, given the extensive media coverage.
In a recent interview with the BBC’s Amol Rajan, Schofield admitted to feeling suicidal and compared the media’s treatment of him to that of Caroline Flack, the former Love Island presenter who took her own life in 2020. Several Twitter users criticised Schofield’s comparison as “distasteful.”
On This Morning, O’Leary and Hammond discussed the importance of mental health awareness, with Hammond stating, “There’s [only] so much a man can take, isn’t there? And I don’t want any death in this situation.”
Schofield, who is married with two children, received significant support in 2020 after revealing that he is gay. Gyles Brandreth, another regular on This Morning, described the controversy surrounding Schofield as “a human story but with public implications.”
Richard Bacon, a fellow broadcaster, took to Twitter to express his support for Schofield, urging people to “stop piling in on this human being.” Former Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan also called for an end to the “relentless persecution” of Schofield, arguing that he has not committed any crime and is not a government minister.
However, Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of the Sun, disagreed with Schofield’s claim that the public scrutiny of his relationship was homophobic. Political commentator Bushra Shaikh also criticised Schofield, accusing him of shedding “crocodile tears.”
On 14 June, ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall is expected to answer questions from MPs on the situation at ITV and This Morning. Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, described Schofield’s interview as “very hard to listen to” and emphasised the devastating impact of the incident on both individuals’ lives and careers.
Lauren Beeching, founder of crisis management agency Honest London, believes that the public’s response to Schofield’s interview has intensified the “witch hunt” against him. However, she does not think his career is necessarily over, stating that public outrage often lessens over time, allowing for reputation rebuilding.
Simon Wadsworth, founder of reputations management consultancy Igniyte, also sees Schofield’s interview as a “positive step” that could help sway public opinion in his favour. He believes that, in the long term, Schofield’s TV career is not over and that the presenter should take time to rebuild and reassess.
Alison Hammond confirmed on Friday’s episode of This Morning that Holly Willoughby would return to co-host the show on Monday alongside Josie Gibson. ITV has not issued any further statements, referring back to the independent review into its handling of the relationship between Schofield and his colleague, which was set up earlier this week.
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