The veteran presenter finally agreed to the network’s ultimatum that he quit after 21 years hosting the daytime programme amid a fallout with his co-star – who told ITV she no longer wanted to work with him.
Schofield, 61 – who was understood to have fled on holiday yesterday to visit his mother in Cornwall – alluded to the feud in ITV’s statement, issued without warning at 3pm.
An insider told The Sun : ‘ITV bosses had to choose which horse to back – Phil or Holly. And it was clear where their loyalties lay.’
They added: ‘Holly is the real winner in all of this as she has emerged victorious and classy.’
The now former co-hosts are said to have had a private chat, thought to be on the phone, since Thursday’s show and called ‘something of a truce’, the source told the newspaper.
Phillip Schofield was yesterday sensationally ousted from This Morning after co-star Holly Willoughby told ITV bosses she no longer wanted to work with him
Former close friends Schofield and Willoughby, pictured together on Dancing on Ice in 2006, had increasingly grown apart in recent months
The pair were the one-time king and queen of daytime television. Their reign on This Morning began in 2009
The once inseparable pair had increasingly grown apart in recent months, but the split became final after Mr Schofield failed to tell Ms Willoughby, 42, about his brother’s child sex trial.
Phillip left the show after frantic meetings between Schofield, his representatives and ITV’s most senior chiefs. They agreed a trade-off in which he was promised he would be able to host a new show solo and that conversations around existing shows would continue, The Mirror reported.
It is not clear exactly who will present the show tomorrow – but it will be someone from the This Morning team.
It is understood that Schofield, who was described as ‘a broken man’, was digging his heels in to stay right up until the end, and that it took ‘much persuasion’ for him to agree to terminate his contract immediately. It means last Thursday was his final appearance on This Morning.
Mr Schofield said: ‘I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story.
‘Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind.
‘I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love.
‘So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future.
‘I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me – especially This Morning’s amazing viewers.’ He made no mention of Ms Willoughby.
The decision was made late on Friday after days of crisis meetings at ITV. It was decided that the announcement would be made yesterday to give Schofield time to leave his West London home to go away on a break and escape the limelight.
Thursday’s ITV show, which Holly closed by saying ‘See you Monday!’, while Phil simply said ‘Bye’, prompted viewers to speculate that he knew it would be his last time on the This Morning sofa
The pair both commented on Schofield’s departure from the show, with Holly Willoughby saying: ‘The sofa won’t be the same without him’
Gino D’Acampo is pictured honouring his promise that he would cook naked on This Morning if they won at the NTA Awards
The split between the pair, pictured in 2014, became final after Schofield failed to tell Willoughby about his brother’s child sex trial
As well as losing his job, he is said to be distraught over his brother Timothy’s 11 convictions on child sex charges. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday.
It can also be revealed there was much wrangling over what the exit strategy would be, whether he went immediately or hung on until the summer break and quietly did not return.
Ms Willoughby, who has found it hard sitting next to him of late, hoped the situation would be dealt with sooner rather than later.
It comes after weeks of fallout between the one-time king and queen of daytime television – with Ms Willoughby taking the crown from the man who mentored her for 14 years.
Ms Willoughby, described as ‘quietly shrewd’ by those who know her, is believed to have told ITV she could no longer share a sofa with him, while making it clear she wants to stay.
One source said: ‘It was basically an ultimatum, Holly won the war. We say what Holly wants, Holly gets and never was a truer word spoken.’
Ms Willoughy also has the full support of Martin Frizell, This Morning’s veteran editor.
He is keen to pair Ms Willoughby with Alison Hammond, the former showbiz reporter who he promoted to the Friday presenter slot two years ago.
Willoughby, described as ‘quietly shrewd’ by those who know her, is believed to have told ITV she could no longer share a sofa with Schofield (pictured on holiday in Dubai in 2016)
Willoughby said she’d ‘never been more proud’ of Schofield when he came out as gay in 2020
The presenters were accused of queue-jumping at the Queen’s lying-in-state last year, which they denied, saying they were working
Schofield, though, had the support of Frizell’s boss, ITV’s head of daytime Emma Gormley. Insiders cite Schofield and Ms Gormley as the ‘losers’ in this.
It comes after Ms Willoughby was also left ‘sad and cross’ after Schofield released a statement about the state of their friendship earlier this month, without consulting her.
Yesterday, she made a brief statement. She wrote: ‘It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour.
‘The sofa won’t feel the same without him.’ She signed off the statement with a pink heart emoji.
ITV sources are now expecting a shake-up on Dancing On Ice, the other show Ms Willoughby and Schofield present together.
One said: ‘Someone is going to have to step back from that too, there is no way they can work together ever again.’ Schofield will continue to work with ITV.
The Mail on Sunday first revealed Mr Schofield and Ms Willoughby’s relationship was under strain since they were accused of jumping queues to pay their respects to the Queen as she lay in state last year.
But it was the fallout over Mr Schofield’s brother’s trial that finally ripped asunder the failing friendship.
The Mail on Sunday also revealed last week how a runner who worked with Schofield ‘mysteriously’ left his role on This Morning after striking up a close friendship with the host.
The man, in his 20s, moved to ITV show Loose Women before leaving the network entirely.