Phillip Schofield has spoken about the affair he had with a younger male colleague for the first time since leaving ITV.
Here are the key points from his interview with The Sun:
– Denied grooming
Schofield said: “I did not (groom him). There are accusations of all sorts of things. It never came across that way (an abuse of power) because we’d become mates. I don’t know about that.
“But of course I understand that there will be a massive judgment, but bearing in mind, I have never exercised that anywhere else.”
– Started in 2017
Schofield told The Sun the affair with the younger colleague began in 2017 after a “consensual moment” in his dressing room.
He said: “It was not a love affair, it was not a relationship, we were not boyfriends; we were mates.
“It wasn’t feelings (I was getting), it was more like mates: excitement.”
The former This Morning presenter said he was struggling with his sexuality at the time, and the pair were together “maybe five or six times”.
He added: “We just didn’t think anyone knew, there was no lying, we thought, stupidly, that nobody knew.”
Schofield said his “greatest apology” over the fallout from the affair was to his former lover.
He went on: “It has brought the greatest misery into his totally innocent life, his totally innocent family, his totally innocent friends. It has brought the greatest grief to them.”
He added: “I am deeply sorry and I apologise to him because I should have known better. I should have acted the way I have always acted. I should not have done it.
“I’m sorry. And I will forever be sorry. I will die sorry. I am so deeply mortified.”
Schofield suggested homophobia could be behind some of the criticism levelled at him over the age gap.
He said: “Attraction is attraction. It’s no different in the gay world as it is in the heterosexual world or in the lesbian world.
“There shouldn’t be a difference. This is where homophobia comes in.
“We did first meet when he was 15, I visited the drama school (he attended).”
He added: “So yeah, there’s a difference. It’s accepted by Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s not accepted if it’s in the gay world.”
He said his wife was “very, very angry” after he confessed to her about his affair with a younger ITV colleague.
Schofield had previously denied rumours about the affair to her when she had asked about them.
He said: “She got off a plane and I phoned her up and texted saying, ‘I need to talk to you’.
“She called back and I told her. She was very, very angry.”
– Holly Willoughby ‘did not know’
The 61-year-old presenter apologised to Willoughby for lying to her about his relationship.
He said: “I’ve lost my best friend. I let her down (Holly). I let that entire show down. I let the viewers down.
“Holly did not know (about the romance). And she was one of the first texts that I sent, to say, ‘I am so, so sorry that I lied to you’.
“She didn’t reply and I understand why she didn’t reply, as well. So yeah. If anyone is in any way linking Holly to this; that is absolutely, wholly untrue.”
– Relationship with Willoughby
Schofield said his friendship with his former co-presenter did not break down following their visit to the late Queen’s lying-in-state, but after his brother Timothy was jailed for 12 years for sexually abusing a boy.
He said: “So we are forever now (associated)… it doesn’t matter now because I’m not going to go out any more … but forever now, you go to the butchers and someone says, ‘Oh do you want to (skip ahead)…?’ ‘No, no, I’ll stand here.’ I’m serious.
“I don’t ever throw anyone under the bus, but I have a very good instinct for these things and I knew it was a bad thing to do.”
He added: “We were texting each other backwards and forwards afterwards. I said to Holly, ‘I knew I should have gone with my gut,’ and she said, ‘I know’.
“But we were shell-shocked, the both of us, completely shell-shocked by the reaction.
“What are the two things you don’t screw up? The Queen and a queue.”
– This Morning
The presenter said he is no longer in contact with anyone from ITV, but is adamant the show should not be axed.