Holly Willoughby triumphed in her ‘feud’ against Phillip Schofield as ITV bosses saw her as the future of This Morning.
The duo’s reign as the star couple of the ITV show came to an end on Saturday when Phil stepped down with immediate effect.
The TV presenter, 61, pulled out of the program after reports of a feud with his co-host Holly Willoughby, 42 – with Thursday 18 May being his last ever show.
Phillip’s resignation completes Holly’s rise to the top after 14 years – having initially been called up to This Morning to replace Fern Britton in 2009.
At the time, Phillip was by far the more famous star and Holly was initially in his shadow.
Victory: Holly Willoughby triumphed in her ‘feud’ against Phillip Schofield as ITV bosses saw her as the future of This Morning
End of an era: The duo’s reign as the star couple of the ITV show came to an end on Saturday when Phil quit with immediate effect
However, their falling out has revealed Holly’s true worth on the show as ITV bosses have chosen to unequivocally support her.
A source told The sun: ‘Holly is the real winner in all of this as she has emerged victorious and stylish. She played a masterstroke.
The situation between the crumbling partnership became so serious that ITV bosses had to choose which horse to lean on: Phil or Holly. And it was clear where their loyalties lay.
“Getting rid of Phil will never be easy. But producers had to think about the longevity of the show. Holly was his future and they want to keep her happy.’
Holly quickly won over viewers with her engaging personality and down-to-earth nature when she joined This Morning and she became a permanent face on the show.
In 2018, Phillip was widely said to be “exasperated” after Holly was chosen to replace Ant McPartlin as co-host of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here with Declan Donnelly.
The role was Holly’s first big solo break as she began making a new one for herself alongside Phillip.
She later chose to leave her and Phillip’s old management, YMU Group, to start her own agency – Roxy Management.
Phillip said: ‘I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect in the hope that the show has a bright future ahead’
Rising star: Holly started making a name for herself alongside Phil when she hosted I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here in 2018
However, her relationship with her old management became fraught when they became embroiled in a legal battle over her future earnings.
The case was settled out of court, with Holly making £1 million off them.
She became the presenter of Take Off With Bradley & Holly on BBC1 and launched her own lifestyle brand Wylde Moon in 2021.
Profitable partnerships followed for the presenter, including with Marks and Spencer, which reportedly earned her £950,000.
Phil has tried launching his own side projects – such as the gameshow The Cube on ITV – but time and time again they have failed to take off.
Phillip acknowledged on Saturday that This Morning “has become the story” after 10 days of intense media scrutiny amid reports of an altercation between the show’s two hosts.
In a statement released Saturday, Phillip said: ‘I’ve always taken pride in writing fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story.
“During my career in TV – including the very difficult past few days – I have always tried my best to be honorable and kind.
Holly shared her own statement saying, “I want to take this opportunity to thank fim for all his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The bank won’t feel the same without him’
History: The presenting duo (pictured in November 2009) have been working together for over a decade after Holly took over Fern Britton as Phillip’s co-host in 2009.
Early years: Phillip joined This Morning in 2002 where he co-hosted with Fern Britton for seven years (pictured with Fern in 2005)
“I understand that ITV has decided that the current situation cannot continue and I want to do what I can to protect the show I love.
So I’ve agreed to step down from This Morning effective immediately, in hopes that the show has a bright future.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me – especially the wonderful viewers of This Morning – and I’ll see you all next month at the Soap Awards.”
But it seemed that Schofield may already have known his time was up when he opted out of the show on Thursday.
On his last appearance as presenter of This Morning, body language expert Judi James said: ‘Holly did start to pick at his fingers, Phil kept his hands in his pockets, bouncing on his heels with a glint in his eye and a mouth clamp.
He kept his lips pursed but lifted his chin with the corners of his mouth pulled down for parting, which could be a sign of resilience.
“Holly was the one who said ‘See you Monday!'” with a perky tilt of her head, raising her left hand in a swing that didn’t mirror Phil and just shouting ‘Bye!’
When the camera pulled away, their smiles looked as incongruous as the robot’s. Phil stepped back from Holly as she walked across the street to talk to the store expert and reached out to hug her.’
Speaking out: Phillip broke his silence earlier this month to insist there has been no falling out with Holly following a string of controversies, including Queuegate and his brother, Timothy, who have been convicted of child offenses
Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director, Media and Entertainment said: ‘Phillip is without a doubt one of the best broadcasters of his generation and we thank him for his two decades of absolutely amazing television on the This Morning bank.
“This Morning was created by one of television’s best and most diligent teams, producing over 12 hours of live television every week.”
“We look forward to continuing our relationship with Phillip, starting with the British Soap Awards in June and a brand new peak time series coming up.”
Holly uploaded a separate statement to her Instagram account saying: ‘Hello everyone… it’s been over 13 amazing years presenting This Morning with Phil and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank fim for all his knowledge , his experience and his humour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him.’
Holly will return to This Morning on Monday 5th June after taking an early half break from Monday 22nd May.
Phillip’s dramatic departure from This Morning comes amid reports that he and Holly weren’t as close as they used to be and barely spoke off camera.
In a surprise move, Phillip broke his silence earlier this month to insist there was no radioactive falloutIt’s his co-host of 14 years after a series of controversies, including Queuegate and his brother, Timothy, who have been convicted of child crimes.
As Phillip admitted that “the past few weeks haven’t been easy for us,” sources close to Holly told MailOnline she had no idea Phillip would be making a statement. She added that the first she saw of it was when it was published online.
Controversy: Phillip said his family has been through a ‘real ordeal’ after his younger brother Timothy (pictured) was convicted of child crimes
“The past few weeks have not been easy for either of us. Like I’ve said before, Holly is my rock,” Phil said The sun.
“We’re the best of friends — as always, she’s been an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes, and on the phone.” Holly has always been there for me through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her.’
Bosses are said to be in crisis over the move, with reports that Holly wanted to pull the plug on their working relationship for good.
There had been talk of why their 14-year reign as ‘besties’ is over, but the Mail’s Katie Hind has been told that at the heart of the feud is a dispute over whether Phillip confided in Holly that his brother Timothy , a police IT employee, accused of child crimes.
Friends say Holly was in limbo until Phillip took a week’s leave from the ITV daytime show to avoid the spotlight while the trial took place last month – something he’s willing to deny to his right.
Timothy Schofield, 54, was convicted of 11 offenses and was sentenced to 12 years in prison on May 19.