Phillip Schofield has given an emotional interview to BBC News, saying he has “lost everything” and his career is over after a past affair with a younger male colleague was revealed.
The former This Morning host said he has been experiencing suicidal thoughts, telling presenter Amol Rajan: “Do you want me to die? Because that’s where I am.”
He resigned from ITV last month and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to the “unwise, but not illegal” relationship.
Schofield, 61, denied he had ever had a sexual relationship with his former lover when he was underage, and also denied allegations he had groomed the man.
Schofield said the relationship started when the man was about 20 and was “consensual”. He said they were “not boyfriends”, and had five or six romantic encounters over a few months.
What is ‘grooming’?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘grooming’ as “the criminal activity of becoming friends with a child in order to try to persuade the child to have a sexual relationship”.
Children’s charity NSPCC says: “Anybody can be a groomer, no matter their age, gender or race. Grooming can take place over a short or long period of time – from weeks to years. Groomers may also build a relationship with the young person’s family or friends to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative.
“Children and young people can be groomed online, in person, or both – by a stranger or someone they know. This could be a family member, a friend or someone who has targeted them, like a teacher, faith group leader or sports coach.”
What has Phillip Schofield said about the affair?
Schofield said he had followed the man on Twitter when he was 15 when a friend asked him to, as the teenager was a fan.
He went on to say the pair were “hardly” in touch, but the young man had later gotten in contact to ask “if he could visit the studios, work experience-type of thing. I said come down and have a look, for sure, which he did”. He later helped the man get a job on This Morning.
Schofield said the relationship began in 2017 after a “consensual moment” in his dressing room, but said it was “not a love affair, it was not a relationship, we were not boyfriends; we were mates”.
Speaking about the reaction to the affair, Schofield said: “It is relentless, and it is day after day, after day after day.
“If you don’t think that that is going to have the most catastrophic effect on someone’s mind… do want me to die? Because that’s where I am. I have lost everything.”
Schofield said he sees “nothing ahead of me but blackness and sadness” following the fallout from the affair.
“I’m not in television any more, I don’t know what I am even remotely if I get through this,” he said.
“I don’t know even remotely how I move forward… what am I going to do with my days? I see nothing ahead of me but blackness and sadness and regret and remorse and guilt.
“I did something very wrong and then I lied about it consistently and you can’t live with that. How do you live with that?”
He also said homophobia played a part in some of the coverage of the relationship, claiming that “if it was male-female then it wouldn’t be such a scandal”.
In an earlier interview, the presenter told The Sun the news of the affair breaking had brought “the greatest misery” to his former lover’s “totally innocent life”.
Schofield said he is sorry for lying to his “best friend” Holly Willoughby, but owes his “greatest apology” to the man.
He told the newspaper he has been “vaping a lot” and drinking Southern Comfort liqueur since revealing his affair.
He said he thought it “looked shocking” when an old photograph, featuring both him and the man who would later become his lover, emerged online.
Schofield also told the newspaper he did not “lie to protect” his career, but the colleague “didn’t want his name in public”.
ITV executives are expected to appear before the Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee on Tuesday for a televised grilling by MPs over their handling of the affair.
Bosses claim they were lied to by Schofield, who, when questioned during an internal investigation into the allegations, denied a relationship.
ITV’s explanation has been dismissed by critics, including former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes, who claimed in an explosive interview on GB News that Schofield’s lover was ferried to ITV’s studios from the presenter’s home in cars paid for by the company.