Why Holly Willoughby’s reaching out to Phillip Schofield

It’s a far cry from Christmases gone by…

holly willoughby phillip schofield

by heat staff |
Published on

Christmas is no doubt going to be very different for Holly Willoughby this year. Once upon a time, the presenter and her estranged BFF Phillip Schofield would drive the excitement for the festive season with fun segments on This Morning, including a Christmas Day edition of the ITV show that had become a recent staple.

But after their heavily publicised friendship breakdown this year – which coincided with Phil’s resignation from ITV following an admission of lying about an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a much younger colleague – and her own shocking step-down from This Morning in October, we’re told that the lead-up to 25 December is bittersweet for Holly.

holly willoughby phillip schofield
the pair hosted dancing on ice together ©Matt Frost/ITV/Shutterstock

With the star still hurt by the end of their friendship, this time of year, where they’d usually enjoy the festivities together, is making Holly feel wistful. After heat previously reported that the former besties had been in touch via text, our source says Holly, 42, is reaching out again to Phil – although she accepts their former closeness is over for good.

“It’s all been extremely heartbreaking, as what happened between them was like losing a colleague and a best friend at the same time,” we’re told.

holly willoughby and dan baldwin
husband dan is a big support ©Getty Images: Ricky Vigil M/GC Images

“She will always want the best for Phil and wish him well, but they are no longer friends. They have exchanged the odd message, and Holly has said she will send him a Christmas card. They’ll never lose contact, but she thinks it’s better for them both to move on.”

Since hanging up her This Morning boots after 14 years, Holly has been lying low. Her social media has remained untouched since the 10 October announcement of her exit, while it’s been claimed the mum of three is “reluctant” to return to her position as Dancing On Ice host in January, a role she previously held with Phillip.

Several reports have named Stephen Mulhern as the one being lined up for the vacant presenting spot, with the other co-host yet to be announced. Our source says, “Having left This Morning, some people on her team have been advising her to cut loose from DOI, as well. There’s still so much controversy connected to Phil, so it’s felt she should leave that chapter of her life behind”

The Brighton-born TV star has also paused a £1million deal with Marks & Spencer – who she has fronted collections for since 2018 – as she comes to terms with what has been a challenging year. As she’d typically work with them on a Christmas campaign, a source said, “She decided to take time away from the limelight for a while. She just wants time with her family.”

heat magazine cover

And now, our source says that a low-key Christmas with her husband Dan Baldwin, their three children Harry, 14, Belle, 12, and Chester, ten, and golden retriever Bailey is primarily what Holly is focusing on.

Our insider says, “Holly really wants her Christmas to be a family affair with no talk of work. Dan is really supporting her through this break and encouraging her to be selective about what she takes on next, and what route she chooses in 2024. But before all that, they’re planning to have a close family Christmas at home, spoiling the kids, cooking up a storm, and doing all the traditional activities for the big day.

“Holly has always carried the weight of starting another series of Dancing On Ice right after Christmas on her shoulders, but this year, she is yearning for that load to feel lighter and not have any pressure around her. She wants a stress-free Christmas given the tumultuous year she’s had.”

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