Celebrity Big Brother: why Fern Britton fell out with Phillip Schofield

She's spilling the tea on their bitter rift

Fern Britton and Philip Schofield together

by Sarah O'Byrne |
Updated on

As telly legend Fern Britton entered the Celebrity Big Brother house this week, she teased that she was finally ready to tell all on her famous feud with TV presenter Phillip Schofield, who she worked with on This Morning for seven years. She revealed just before going on the show, “Apparently I’ve signed up to spill the beans! Well, right now, I can tell you that I think let’s approach with caution and kindness. It’s fair to say that towards the end we were not getting on. Things were tricky.”

Fern and Phillip were once morning TV’s most famous duo, presenting This Morning from 2002 until Fern’s exit in 2009 amid persistent rumours of tension between the two of them. She was replaced by Holly Willoughby, who quit the show last year, just months after Phillip resigned after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a much younger colleague – leaving This Morning plagued by rumours of a toxic working environment.

Fern Britton with her housemates on Celebrity Big Brother
Fern on her first day in the Celebrity Big Brother house ©Shutterstock

Last week 66-year-old Fern opened to The Mirror about why she walked away 15 years ago, revealing, “I did love This Morning… I wasn’t expecting to resign on the day I resigned.”

At the time it was reported that her decision was due to earning much less than her male co-star. But she told a radio show in 2020, “There was also a persistent rumour that I left because Phillip was being paid more than me and I always say to people, ‘Why would I leave a show to go to nothing if I was worried about money?’"

She added, “Something happened and I thought, ‘That’s it really’ and I walked away and resigned. I was treated pretty poorly, actually. And after a while I just thought, ‘Sod it’.”

Fern Britton in her ITV promo pic for Celebrity Big Brother
Fern has said she'll "spill the beans" with "kindness" on Celeb BB ©ITV

Phillip has also been outspoken about their rift, revealing to us (heat mag) in 2013 that the pair were "not really" in touch anymore.

"We were involved in the show and mates at the time, but we don't really," he said. "I see Phil [Fern's then-husband, chef Phil Vickery] when he's in This Morning. But we're not in touch now."

And in his autobiography, Life Is What You Make It, released in 2020, Phillip claimed their big blow-up was actually over the content of an episode, where Fern accused him of “meddling”. He wrote: “I walked back into the make-up room and calmly said, ‘Please don’t do that to me again’… I think, for whatever reason, that was the point Fern decided she didn't want to do This Morning anymore.”

He also offered an insight into their close relationship before it all went wrong, revealing he even had a rude nickname for her. Revealing the origins of the unusual moniker, he said, “We laughed when she said she had dropped a pot of mint sauce on her kitchen floor at home and it had splashed up the inside of her nighty. In make-­up I called her ‘Minty minge’. On the telly, just calling her ‘Minty’ had the desired effect.”

Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield at a TV awards ceremony in 2004
Best buds Fern and Phil at a TV awards ceremony in 2004 ©Getty

And last week, Fern revealed more about the fallout, telling The Mirror that she wanted to go to Basra with This Morning to cover the Iraq War but Phillip said he “didn’t look good in an orange jumpsuit” and wouldn’t go. She revealed she told him, “I don't think they're going to be taking you hostage and sticking you in Guantanamo Bay”, adding, “But anyway, he wouldn't come. So that was fine. And I went with a director, she and I, and whenever we see each other, we’re Basra buddies.”

The pair have kind of made up since those days, however, with Fern recording a video message for him in 2022 to congratulate him on 40 years in television. On the clip shown on TV, she told Phillip, “Forty years is an incredible milestone and it's time for you to stop and look back and see all that you have achieved and be proud of it. So I'm wishing you a very happy future. Congratulations and keep going.”

Let’s see how long this truce lasts for now Fern is back on our TVs…

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