Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary step in at post-Schofield This Morning
Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary have been announced as temporary presenters of ITV’s This Morning, as former host Phillip Schofield battles to save his television career.
Schofield announced on Saturday he would step down from presenting the daytime talkshow with immediate effect, after ITV bosses told him “the current situation can’t go on” following weeks of damaging news stories.
The presenter had faced extensive coverage that he had fallen out with This Morning co-presenter Holly Willoughby, was criticised for appearing to skip the queue to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin, and watched as his brother was imprisoned for sex offences involving achild.
Schofield, who will not be given a chance to say goodbye to viewers after 21 years on air, said he was stepping down for the good of the show. The presenter, who the Mirror claimed earned £600,000 a year for his work on This Morning in 2017, now faces a battle to retain his other high-profile jobs.
ITV has promised him that he will still be able to host next month’s British Soap Awards and an as-yet-unnamed primetime show. But it did not comment on whether he will co-host the next year’s series of iceskating show Dancing on Ice, which he co-hosts with Willoughby.
Losing the presenter slot on This Morning will also hit his ability to strike lucrative endorsement deals with brands, having recently lost his roles as the voice of WeBuyAnyCar and at in-house Waitrose wine brand.
ITV said Willoughby, who has co-hosted This Morning since 2009, will take an unplanned holiday, ensuring she does not need to comment on Schofield’s departure. She will return to screens on 4 June.
It has said Willoughby will continue to host the show and will “co-present with members of the This Morning family” until bosses find a permanent replacement for Schofield.
Hammond and O’Leary, who usually co-host This Morning on Fridays, will take over for Monday’s show. Birmingham-born Hammond is a favourite to be promoted to fill Schofield’s space on the sofa after becoming a cult figure for her interviews with celebrities.
Schofield said in a statement: “I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story. Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind.
“I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love. So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future.”
Willoughby said in a brief statement: “It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The sofa won’t feel the same without him.”
Schofield took leave from the show last month during his brother’s sexual abuse trial at Exeter crown court. Timothy Schofield, 54, who was a civilian police worker with the Avon and Somerset force at the time of the abuse, was found guilty of 11 sexual offences involving a child. Phillip Schofield had publicly disowned his brother and took pre-planned leave from presenting duties during this period.