Phillip Schofield has been at the helm of one of ITV’s most popular shows This Morning for 18 years. He started out hosting the programme with Fern Britton before Holly Willoughby took over as co-host in 2009. Phillip and Holly’s onscreen chemistry captivates the UK public on a daily basis. Not only that but the friendship that would emerge during their time on the morning show couch together has endeared many. This was most notably highlighted as Holly comforted the star when he came out as gay in February, after 27 years married to Stephanie Lowe, who he has two daughters with. The host’s TV career has spanned for an impressive three decades, first starting in New Zealand on the show ‘Shazam!’ before returning to the UK and fronting CBBC. As his popularity began to soar and numbers of adoring fans grew, the star was crowned ‘Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelor’ in a magazine poll. But true to form, Phillip remained ever-humble despite the highly flattering award and even made a hilarious joke about the situation.
Phillip Schofield was emerging as one of Britain’s top TV talents at this point in his career, shortly after introducing a small furry puppet named Gordon the Gopher to his shows.
During their unusual double act the cuddly toy would interrupt the star and act in an unruly manner, while the presenter improvised around him.
This was a much welcome relief for the star, who was set to be canned by BBC executives shortly before, who reportedly dubbed him a “cringey wimp” and didn’t believe he belonged in front of their nine million viewers.
But the host reigned it back with his delicate handling of the NASA Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster during a live broadcast.
Phillip and Gordon the Gopher’s unimaginable popularity would lead to hundreds of letters from adoring fans being sent into the studio every day.
But as he became increasingly beloved by the public, the unthinkable would happen – when the star suddenly got the sack live on air in 1987.
The astonishing account was recounted in Robin McGibbon’s 1992 biography ‘Phillip Schofield: The Whole Amazing Story’
He wrote: “It seemed the only way for the dynamic duo to go now was UP.
“Then on-screen in front of millions of adoring fans Phillip was summoned by [Michael] Grade, and given his marching orders.
“It was unthinkable. It was unbearable. And, of course, it was untrue.”
Mr Grade, the BBC’s Director of Programmes, told Phillip to “take the next three years off” and condemned him to work in the post room, as part of the cheeky stunt.
The reason behind it was later revealed to be because he was “going on to bigger and better things” – moving to his “dream” presenting gig, a Saturday morning slot.
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The BBC director’s decision to have some fun on-air with the star, was indicative of Phillip being considered one of their “brightest new stars”.
He was set to front the broadcaster’s new show ‘Going Live!’ alongside Sarah Greene, a programme that would mix pop music, fashion, quizzes and phone-ins from the public.
But Phillip remained ever-modest about his success, claiming to have “simply been in the right place at the time” and that it was “all down to luck”.
The same humble nature that seemed to have won over thousands of young viewers in New Zealand was being mirrored back in the UK.
But now that he was hosting shows in front of millions of Britons, his appeal was extending further than children and teenagers.
He was quickly becoming eye candy for a slightly older audience too – all culminating in him receiving a beyond-flattering award.
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Biographer Mr McGibbon wrote: “His good looks, it appeared, were now attracting an older fan.
“Much to Phillip’s astonishment, he was voted ‘Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelor in a magazine poll.”
He was reported to have been overwhelmed and deeply surprised by the accolade, but quickly reigned in any appearance of ego with a witty comment.
Mr McGibbon added: “The attention was flattering, he said, but if the girls who voted saw him first thing in the morning after a night out they might think differently.”
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