Morning Show Host Exits After 20 Years as Scandal Rumors Erupt

Long-time This Morning host Phillip Schofield has agreed to step down from the ITV morning show "with immediate effect" after more than 20 years. The network confirmed the news on Saturday, May 20 amid ongoing rumors of a feud between Schofield and his co-host Holly Willoughby, though ITV did not cite the rumors of the icy relationship as the reason for Schofield's immediate departure. Willoughby will remain on This Morning and will co-present with members of the This Morning family, per ITV.

"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," Schofield, whose final This Morning appearance was on May 18, said in a statement. "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 – and I'll see you all for the Soap Awards next month."

In her own statement, Willoughby said "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."

Schofield began his career on children's TV in the 1980s on the BBC's Broom Cupboard, and later on Saturday morning show Going Live!. He also starred in West End productions and fronted TV game shows like Talking Telephone Numbers and Schofield's Quest before joining This Morning in 2002. He has co-hosted alongside Willoughby since 2009, the pair also presenting ITV's Dancing On Ice together.

Schofield's abrupt exit from the British morning show comes after rumors surfaced recently that there was a "cooling" in the pair's relationship, with sources telling The Sun that issues have "rumbled for some time" on the ITV show. One source claimed, "To those around them on set, it has become clear recently that Holly and Phil are not as close as they once were," adding that "behind the scenes their relationship has cooled." The source added that Schofield and Willoughby were barely speaking to one another. Schofield later acknowledged some strain in the relationship, admitting that "the last few weeks haven't been easy for either of us," though he went on to call Willoughby his "rock", adding, "She is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone."

Amid his departure, Willoughby will take an "early half term holiday", ITV said. She will return to the program on Monday, June 5.