Why Holly Willoughby still feels guilty over Phillip Schofield

Moving on means saying goodbye to his family, too

holly willoughby and phillip schofield

by heatworld |
Published on

Former BFFs and This Morning co-presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield saw their friendship shattered by daytime TV’s biggest scandal. But while Holly has left both Phil and the show behind after quitting This Morning in October, heat has been told that, behind the scenes, she’s wracked with guilt about how the rift has affected her relationship with Phillip’s wife Steph and daughters Molly, 30, and Ruby, 27.

“Holly has had to move on with her life, but that hasn’t stopped her feeling guilty about how she left things with Steph, Molly and Ruby,” says an insider.

holly willoughby phillip schofield
at the races with phil and steph in 2017 ©Getty Images: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

“They were like a second family to her and Dan [Baldwin, her husband] for many years, and she was always very protective of the girls. Holly’s kids all adored Ruby and Molly, and they all loved their time together, especially the holidays in Portugal.”

Well known for their friendship in front of and behind the cameras, Holly, 43, and Phillip, 61, found themselves at the centre of public scandal last year amid reports of a feud between the co-hosts. Things reached breaking point last May when Phil resigned from ITV after admitting to lying about an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a much younger colleague. The pair’s friendship never recovered, and Holly left This Morning in the autumn amid the further trauma of an alleged kidnap plot.

Holly shocked viewers by making her on-screen comeback last month, returning to co-host Dancing On Ice with Phillip’s replacement Stephen Mulhern. But while her former co-star has kept a low profile, he was pictured last week with daughter Molly, after Ben Shephard and Cat Deeley were announced as their This Morning replacements.

Steph and their two girls have stuck by Phil’s side throughout the scandal, which hit the headlines again last week as it was reported that the presenter paid his younger lover a six-figure sum in exchange for his silence about the affair. While Holly claimed Phil lied to her about the relationship – something she said she found “very hurtful” – heat has previously reported that the pair have had some contact. But their friendship has undeniably suffered, and we’re told it’s the distance from Phillip’s family that’s hurting Holly the most.

“Everything has changed – things can’t just go back to how they were, even though it had nothing to do with Steph and the girls,” says our source.

“Phil betrayed Holly and let her down badly. And, as much as she loves his family and feels a lot of sympathy for them, she couldn’t carry on that relationship after their fallout. It’s something she’ll never really get over. She had to cut the whole family off in order to move on.”

Phillip and Holly first worked together as co-hosts on Dancing On Ice in 2006. Their chemistry onscreen soon developed into a close friendship offscreen. They were infamous for their big nights out, and also went on family holidays together. The Schofields particularly enjoyed time with Holly and Dan, and their kids Harry, 14, Belle, 12, and Chester, eight, in Portugal, where both families had holiday homes.

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Steph and Phil married in 1993, and stayed together even after Phillip came out as gay in 2020. In the wake of the revelation about his affair, it was Steph who Holly reportedly reached out to, with the pair speaking regularly. But now, our source says Holly knows she has to leave the past behind.

We’re told, “Doing Dancing On Ice with Stephen has really put a spring back in Holly’s step and she feels free again. Her work-life balance is so much better. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t think about Steph and the girls, and the impact this has had on their lives.”

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