Phillip Schofield reveals how ‘astonishing’ best friend Holly Willoughby made him change his coming out plan
Phillip Schofield broke down in tears while reflecting on the incredible support of his best friend and This Morning co-host Holly Willoughby in the lead-up to his momentous coming out.
The television presenter came out as gay on Instagram in February, and later that day, he spoke to Willoughby on This Morning about the inner turmoil he had felt.
Speaking to Chris Evans on the How to Wow podcast, Schofield revealed that Willoughby pulled him aside a couple of years before he came out to check if he was OK.
When he said he was fine, she replied: “Well, you will tell me, you will talk to me, won’t you?” And I said, ‘Yeah, of course.'”
Willoughby went on to prove herself a dedicated friend and ally, supporting him and standing by his side during his coming out process.
Holly Willoughby wanted to be with Phillip Schofield before and after he came out as gay.
Before he came out on This Morning, Phillip Schofield went for a drink with Willoughby to formulate a plan to help him tell the public that he was gay.
“We stayed very sober, which is unlike us, because it was a serious, serious subject,” Schofield said.
“I said: ‘I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think what I should do is that we’ll do it on a Thursday morning,’ because we don’t do Fridays, and I said: ‘We’ll do it on a Thursday morning and I want you to interview me, and then I’ll go and you’ll carry on and we’ll get someone in to do the rest of the show.’
“And she burst out laughing and said: ‘Are you joking? That’s ridiculous, you honestly believe that you are going to do something like that and then get up and go without me?’
“She said: ‘We do this and we do it together and we leave together, so it has to be a Friday.'”
Schofield continued: “Holly has been astonishing,” before choking up. “Literally the best mate.
“She’s serene, she’s calming and sensible, and she’s balanced, and not just for me, but also for [Schofield’s wife] Steph. She’s been balanced across the board.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Schofield said he had a “really, really tough time in the press” leading up to his coming out, saying “inaccurate and very untrue” stories were published about him.
He said this, along with hiding his sexuality, almost pushed him “over the edge”.
After he came out, one of the journalists who had given him a hard time texted him to say that he had advanced the LGBT+ cause by 10 years by speaking publicly about his sexuality.
The talkshow host also responded to persistent speculation in the media about whether he and his wife Steph will divorce after he came out.
Holly has been astonishing. Literally the best mate. She’s serene, she’s calming and sensible, and she’s balanced, and not just for me, but also for Steph.
When Evans asked him how long the wedding ring will stay on for, Schofield responded: “That’s a very good question, Chris. I don’t know. I am still married to Steph.
“There’s a great deal of talk of divorce, [but] we have not discussed that at all.”
He noted that a media outlet recently claimed to publish photos of the inside of his and Steph’s home in Surrey, but that the images were actually from the set of How To Spend It, and added: “I have no issue with this, but they’ve been discussing at great length the conversations that we’ve had about divorce.
“And that’s not been discussed. We are picking our way through, and however that works… it’s a work in progress.”
In October, Schofield published his autobiography Life’s What You Make It, where he opened up about seeing a therapist and taking medication to help with his mental health issues.
He wrote: “My mental health is still a work in progress. I talk regularly to a professional team who tell me that everything will be OK.
“Sometimes I have my doubts. If I’m totally honest with you, as I’ve said before, it’s not in my nature to hurt people and so, with that in mind, I’m finding it hard to pick my way through the debris.
“Is there a way to reveal a secret like this to the world and not hurt your wife or your family? The answer is obviously not. But we are close and loving. We’ll get through.”