KATIE HIND: How Phillip Schofield hid his pain before his brother’s conviction for child sex abuse

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KATIE HIND: How Phillip Schofield hid his pain before his brother’s conviction for child sex abuse

When Phillip Schofield suddenly failed to appear on This Morning's airwaves last week, worried viewers wondered why. After all, if his side kick Holly

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When Phillip Schofield suddenly failed to appear on This Morning’s airwaves last week, worried viewers wondered why. After all, if his side kick Holly Willoughby was present, so should he be. It was only ever in the most extenuating circumstances that one would be there without the other. 

Even the show’s production staff were baffled. No cars had been booked to transport Schofield from his home to the West London studio for the entire week and they wanted to know why.

For more than two decades, Schofield has interviewed thousands of guests, often about the most agonising of personal situations. But none of his millions of viewers could have known that, for many months, he had been hiding his own devastating pain – his younger brother Timothy was awaiting trial for sexually abusing a teenage boy.

Indeed, it was far from common knowledge at ITV, where Schofield, 61, is viewed as a jewel in the crown of daytime television. Sources at the network say that only a very small number of senior staff were aware of the looming court case.

On Monday, Timothy Schofield, 54, was found guilty on all 11 counts of abusing the boy from when he was under 16. He has been remanded in custody while he awaits sentencing at Bristol Crown Court.

For more than two decades, Schofield has interviewed thousands of guests on This Morning, often about the most agonising of personal situations

For more than two decades, Schofield has interviewed thousands of guests on This Morning, often about the most agonising of personal situations

For more than two decades, Schofield has interviewed thousands of guests on This Morning, often about the most agonising of personal situations

Timothy Schofield, 54, was found guilty on all 11 counts of abusing the boy from when he was under 16

Timothy Schofield, 54, was found guilty on all 11 counts of abusing the boy from when he was under 16

Timothy Schofield, 54, was found guilty on all 11 counts of abusing the boy from when he was under 16

Phillip Schofield with his mother Pat and brother Tim

Phillip Schofield with his mother Pat and brother Tim

Phillip Schofield with his mother Pat and brother Tim

Following the verdicts, a devastated Phillip branded his brother’s crimes ‘despicable’, saying: ‘As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a brother.’

Yet astonishingly, despite the emotional trauma, Phillip will be back on our screens before long.

ITV said yesterday that the host will return to This Morning after the Easter holidays in around two weeks’ time.

‘Phillip is a much loved member of our team and we wanted to make sure we supported him,’ a source at the channel told the Mail. ‘We are so happy he will be back where he belongs.’ Many had feared that following the case he would be taking an extended period of leave.

Understandably, friends of the star are still worried about him – some were so shocked by what happened that they believed Phillip Schofield might retreat from our screens for ever.

‘Can you imagine what he has been through, it is just so awful to see and hear it all come out,’ said one. ‘It was a concern that he might not want to put himself out there again. He must be going through so many devastating emotions right now.’

It is hardly surprising that Schofield would have preferred the case to have remained a secret. It must have been unimaginably awful when, in September 2021, his brother Timothy told him that he and the boy ‘had their time together’.

Timothy had gone to Phillip’s house and claimed it happened ‘just once’ to which Phillip told him ‘it should never happen again’. And as the television host was doing the washing up, his brother then described in detail the boy’s body, prompting him to shout: ‘F***, stop!’

He added: ‘I don’t want you to tell me any more. Regardless of how it happened, it must never happen again.’

Timothy Schofield told his TV star brother in September 2021 that he performed a sex act with the boy 'that last year', according to a witness statement Phillip gave to the court

Timothy Schofield told his TV star brother in September 2021 that he performed a sex act with the boy 'that last year', according to a witness statement Phillip gave to the court

Timothy Schofield told his TV star brother in September 2021 that he performed a sex act with the boy a year before, according to a witness statement given to the court 

Phillip Schofield pictured last week after taking time off work from This Morning as his brother, Timothy, was in court

Phillip Schofield pictured last week after taking time off work from This Morning as his brother, Timothy, was in court

Phillip Schofield pictured last week after taking time off work from This Morning as his brother, Timothy, was in court 

A statement released by Phillip Schofield following his brother's conviction today

A statement released by Phillip Schofield following his brother's conviction today

A statement released by Phillip Schofield following his brother’s conviction today 

Joel Dommett was brought in to present This Morning with Holly Willoughby

Joel Dommett was brought in to present This Morning with Holly Willoughby

Joel Dommett was brought in to present This Morning with Holly Willoughby

Alison Hammond (left) - who normally presents with Dermot O'Leary (right) - and Joel Dommett were brought in to present the show alongside Holly Willoughby

Alison Hammond (left) - who normally presents with Dermot O'Leary (right) - and Joel Dommett were brought in to present the show alongside Holly Willoughby

Alison Hammond (left) – who normally presents with Dermot O’Leary (right) – and Joel Dommett were brought in to present the show alongside Holly Willoughby

The court heard how Timothy was in a heightened state of agitation and was threatening to kill himself.

That Phillip was able to carry on working despite keeping this painful secret about his brother from his immediate colleagues is quite extraordinary. In ITV’s daytime television wing, very little remains a secret. As one source said: ‘It’s gossip central; everyone knows one another’s business and what’s going on around the place. And things spread like wildfire. It is amazing, and a testament to the bosses’s loyalty, that this was all kept quiet from us.

‘Rumours did eventually start to swirl but it was just not discussed.’

The Daily Mail can reveal that Phillip Schofield went to his bosses some weeks ago and asked for leave so that he could cope with his brother’s court case out of the public eye.

They immediately agreed and, says one source, ‘couldn’t do enough to help him’. He is after all, much loved at the channel.

Meanwhile, Schofield was supported by his close friend and confidant Martin Frizell – This Morning’s editor – and, of course, Ms Willoughby, 42.

While ITV and its executives have said as little as they possibly can on the matter, Ms Willoughby enthusiastically took to Instagram to post about Schofield’s replacements, Alison Hammond and Joel Dommett, the host of ITV’s Saturday night show The Masked Singer.

‘Love you @alisonhammond55, same time tomorrow,’ she said of Ms Hammond alongside a picture of them with their hands in the air. And she posted a photo of her with Dommett on the show’s set. There was no mention of Schofield.

‘Holly is loyal to Phil and she will always be there for him,’ a friend of hers tells me. ‘And she will always be there for This Morning too. She sees it as her role to keep things going.’

She will, of course, be sitting alongside him when Phillip returns in a fortnight’s time – just as she was when he sensationally announced live on the programme in February 2020 that he is gay, despite being married to wife Stephanie since March 1993.

Timothy Schofield (seen on the left with his head covered next to another man) was convicted of three counts of causing a child to watch sexual activity, three of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, three of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, and two of sexual activity with a child

Timothy Schofield (seen on the left with his head covered next to another man) was convicted of three counts of causing a child to watch sexual activity, three of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, three of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, and two of sexual activity with a child

Timothy Schofield (seen on the left with his head covered next to another man) was convicted of three counts of causing a child to watch sexual activity, three of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, three of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, and two of sexual activity with a child 

Timothy Schofield - seen leaving court earlier in the trial - was convicted of all charges

Timothy Schofield - seen leaving court earlier in the trial - was convicted of all charges

Timothy Schofield – seen leaving court earlier in the trial – was convicted of all charges 

Clearly emotional, he was interviewed by Ms Willoughby about his decision to come out, and told her he had been inspired by the ‘brave’ guests who have appeared on the show and thought: ‘I have to be that person.’

In an extraordinary piece of television, he was comforted on screen by Ms Willoughby, Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.

There is no doubt that things have been turbulent recently for Schofield, who made his name presenting children’s television on BBC1.

His decision to come out is not the only reason he has made the headlines in recent times.

Last September he and Ms Willoughby were embroiled in what became known as ‘Queuegate’ after they used Press passes to jump the queue to see the Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall. The scandal prompted a nine-minute-long segment on This Morning as Ms Willoughby attempted to justify the duo’s decision not to wait in long queues like other celebrities including David Beckham and their ITV colleague Susanna Reid.

As Schofield claimed he was ‘unfairly targeted’ over his decision not to queue, his bosses insisted there was no wrongdoing. However, in the court of public opinion he and Ms Willoughby were found guilty, which caused a significant dent in their popularity with viewers.

Whether this latest ordeal will win viewers’ sympathy is open to question. But there is no doubt that ITV are giving him even more love than usual as he prepares for a future estranged from the brother he was once so close to.

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