Happier times: A look back at Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield’s first ever This Morning episode as their friendship lies in tatters amid feud

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were ITV’s golden couple, but cracks are beginning to show in their once close friendship. 

The pals, who have holidayed together and supported each other over the last 15 years, are said to be feuding behind-the-scenes with ITV holding crisis talks. 

Holly, 42, joined the show in 2009 after Fern Britton left, with Phil instrumental in securing her as his co-host thanks to being a hit with their presenting dynamic on Dancing On Ice. 

And their chemistry on set was palpable during their first ever This Morning episode as Phil played a prank on his new co-host.

Phil told viewers as he welcomed Holly to the show for the first time: ‘Morning! Just as the titles started I said, “nah, I’m not doing it”, before pretending to walk off set. 

Happier times: Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were ITV’s golden couple, but cracks are beginning to show in their once close friendship

Tatters: The pals who have holidayed together and supported each other over the years are said to be feuding behind-the-scenes, with ITV holding crisis talks

‘I know! Come back, I’m holding on very tightly’, Holly replied as she held tightly onto Phil’s arm. 

‘Welcome. How do you feel?’, Phil asked. 

Holly said: ‘Like this isn’t really happening.’

Phil told her: ‘Well you just said that a second ago, which makes me just a tad nervous.’

The duo reflected on their first ever show in 2018 when the This Morning studio moved offices. 

Holly said: ‘I know, I’d just had Harry then, so Harry was about three months old I think, and I just remember this was one of the scariest things in my telly career I’d ever had to do.

‘Because it’s a huge show and I loved it as a viewer, so to come in that day and have to stand next to you as well, I mean the whole thing was just terrifying.’ 

However, their 15-year ITV partnership is teetering on the edge of collapse with a feud playing out off camera.

Dynamic duo: Phil was by Holly’s side during her pregnancies with Belle, 12, and Chester, eight 

READ MORE: ITV bosses ‘plot presenter clear out with Phillip facing the axe’ 

Awkward: Holly and Phillip on This Morning today

Feuding Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield returned to This Morning today – as insiders branded the show’s rating plunge a ‘wake up call’ amid claims Phillip could be axed.

According to reports the previously close friends now barely speak behind the scenes and have called in lawyers and PR experts to salvage their on screen reputations.

Bosses from the broadcaster were allegedly furious after Phillip broke his silence with a shock statement about the fall out with his co-host of 14 years, admitting ‘the last few weeks haven’t been easy for us’. 

Until recently, Holly is said to have put their growing differences aside because she felt strong loyalty towards her co-host, who was key to her landing the This Morning job in 2009. 

But Phillip’s release of a statement about their friendship without first consulting her has hit her hard, friends say, and now Holly thinks it is time to go it alone. 

But how did the feud begin? 


Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby begin their working relationship after signing on to ITV show Dancing On Ice. 

Phil, as the more experienced presenter, is reportedly paid £200,000 more than his younger co-host, who’s background was in children’s television.

The two impress viewers and ITV bosses with their onscreen chemistry while their friendship soon develops off screen. 


Phillip’s This Morning co-host Fern Britton suddenly quits the ITV flagship show.

Fern was half way through her £1.5 million contract with ITV when she handed in her notice after seven years on This Morning with Phillip. 

It was claimed at the time she felt ‘undervalued by ITV’ and that she was ‘living in Phil’s shadow’.

Close: Until recently, Holly is said to have put their growing differences aside because she felt strong loyalty towards her co-host,  (pictured on their first show together)

Four years after her departure, Phillip admitted he and Fern no longer spoke. 

In his autobiography Life Is What You Make It, the presenter wrote of the argument he had with Fern which ended their friendship.

The pair exchanged fraught words in their make-up room in 2009 over the content of the show and Phil said he was ‘stunned’ when she accused him of ‘meddling’.

He wrote: ‘I walked back into the make-up room and calmly said, “Please don’t do that to me again”.

‘I think, for whatever reason, that was the point Fern decided she didn’t want to do This Morning any more.’ 

In September 2009 ,Holly is announced as Fern’s replacement on This Morning.

Quit: Phillip’s This Morning co-host Fern Britton suddenly quit the ITV flagship show in 2009, leading Phil to put Holly’s name forward 

Co-stars: The pair first started working together on ITV’s Dancing On Ice in 2006


Holly returns to present Dancing On Ice alongside Phillip after an absence from the show to focus on other projects.

It’s reported ITV’s golden girl has received a £200,000 pay rise to match Phillip’s salary, alongside a pay rise from This Morning to match his annual salary of approximately £600,000 to £700,000. 


Phillip comes out as gay, and speaks to Holly live This Morning. During the emotional on air chat, Phil thanks his co-star and friend for her support, calling her ‘the sister I’ve never had.’

‘Sister’: Phil came out as gay in 2020 and shared an emotional conversation with Holly on This Morning during which he called her ‘the sister I’ve never had’

September 2022

After almost 15 years of friendship, the first signs of a feud begin when the pair are criticised after failing to queue for the Queen’s Lying in State.

The presenters are seen on the camera feed after using press accreditation to ensure they didn’t have to wait for hours to enter Westminster Hall alongside thousands of wellwishers and other celebrities including David Beckham and their ITV colleague Susanna Reid, who both queued.

Furious fans accuse Holly and Phil of lacking in ‘common decency’ and say they should be ‘ashamed’ of themselves.

A petition is signed by 73,000 fans calling for them to be sacked over the scandal.

Three days after the incident the pair issue a statement live on This Morning but both stop short of using the word ‘sorry’ – a move which creates even more backlash.

Holly is said to be particularly upset over the reaction and ‘has never had to deal with anger and vitriol like this in her life’, with the situation even forcing her off social media as the criticism continues for weeks.

Friends for years: Off camera Holly and Phil regularly socialised together and jetted off for annual summer holidays with their families

April 2023 

Phillip is absent from This Morning for two weeks while his brother Timothy, 54, is tried at Exeter Crown Court of sexually abusing a teenage boy.

After he is convicted, the TV star said: ‘I no longer have a brother.’

The Mail’s Katie Hind has been told that at the heart of Holly and Phil’s fall-out is a dispute over whether he confided in her that his brother faced charges of child sex offences.

Friends say Holly was in the dark until Phil took his leave from the ITV daytime show to avoid the limelight while the trial took place  – something he is at pains to deny.

Phil returns to This Morning after Holly’s presenting stint with Alison Hammond is praised by viewers.

May 2023 

The Mail on Sunday first reveal cracks are showing in their relationship with the strains beginning with the fallout from the queue-jump allegations.

Sources reveal that the pair no longer speak to each other when the cameras on This Morning stop rolling. 

Viewers notice – to the dismay of the This Morning production team, who have witnessed the demise in the pair’s relationship. 

Amid the flurry of reports Phil releases an extraordinary statement to insist that there has been no fallout with his co-host.

‘Holly is my rock,’ Phil tells The Sun.

Backlash: The feud began in September when the pair (pictured in August 22) were criticised after failing to queue for the Queen’s Lying in State

Still on air: After a weekend dealing with the fallout of Phillip’s statement, the pair returned to screens together, notably failing to address the feud

‘We’re the best of friends — as always, she is 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.’

As Phillip admits that ‘the last few weeks haven’t been easy for us,’ sources close to Holly tell MailOnline that she had no idea that Phillip was going to make a statement. 

Meanwhile, it emerges that a runner on This Morning who struck up a friendship with Schofield quit suddenly. The man, in his 20s, moved to ITV’s Loose Women before leaving the network amid claims of a rift.

ITV and Schofield insist the Loose Women job was a promotion. But a source said: ‘He and Phil were close, then he just went off to Loose Women, which is a rival show. It was odd. Some of the network’s biggest names expressed surprise. He was popular. It was mysterious.’

After a weekend dealing with the fallout of Phillip’s statement, the pair return to screens together, notably failing to address the feud. 

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