Phillip Schofield feared coming out would 'look like publicity stunt'

Phillip Schofield feared his coming out interview would ‘look like a publicity stunt’ as he details the careful planning behind the scenes planning

He came out as gay on This Morning in February – and married father-of-two Phillip Schofield has admitted he feared his coming out would ‘look like a publicity stunt’.

In an honest podcast Life, Interrupted with Simon Thomas, Phillip, 58, also detailed the careful planning that went on behind the scenes at This Morning. 

He said: ‘I discussed how we were going to do it with Steph [his wife] obviously and then my team around me…And I said to Holly it has to be on This Morning, I owe it to our viewers because you know it is all a family, they have to be the first to hear…

Concerns: Phillip Schofield feared his coming out interview back in February would ‘look like a publicity stunt’ as he detailed the careful planning behind the scenes planning (pictured)

‘So I said I think I’m going to do it on a Thursday, like first thing on a Thursday and then I will get up and go and then you carry on and we’ll get someone else in to finish the show with you and and she went “What?!” I said “Well, I think that’s probably best”.

‘She said “There’s no chance, no chance you are going to do that and then get up and go and then I continue without you. What are you saying? No, we do this together. We do it together and then we leave together” 

‘And I said “Well it has to be a Friday then”’

A friend in need… Holly proved the depth of their friendship as she supported him during the announcement and Phillip said there is no one else on the planet who could have done it 

He continued: ‘Eamonn and Ruth were brought into the conversation much later but they were as obviously as gracious as you would expect them to be that I needed to nick 10 minutes of their show. 

‘And so that was it, that was decided. And then the date was decided because we didn’t want it to be too close to the NTAs, we didn’t want to look like it was a publicity thing. 

‘And then I can remember saying “This is ridiculous, you know, this is the biggest thing I’m ever gonna do in my life. 

He said: ‘She couldn’t give me an easy ride, it had to be tough questions. But at the same time making sure that I was okay because she knew that I wasn’t. It was tough. That was a very difficult gig for her but she was so magnificent’

‘How is this a publicity stunt for what?” And then, you know, the date was set, it’s going to be Friday, the seventh of February and I describe this all in detail of the moment that led up to my thumb pressing that button and posting the message.

Detailing further, he said: ‘And then we went upstairs and I sat on the sofa with Holly, and there’s no way it would have been anyone else. There’s not a single person on this planet that I would have done that with other than Holly, it was only going to be her. And she was unbelievable. 

‘When you’re sitting opposite a mate who is doing this? It’s a fine line. She had to ask the right questions she had. 

‘She couldn’t give me an easy ride, it had to be tough questions. But at the same time making sure that I was okay because she knew that I wasn’t. It was tough. That was a very difficult gig for her but she was so magnificent.’

Phillip said it was difficult going through the pandemic a month after coming out. 

His loves: Phillip pictured with his wife Stephanie and their daughters at the National Television Awards in 2018

He said: ‘Yeah. You know, I was happy to receive the hugs, people saying “Oh my God, you’re so brave, oh, are you okay, let’s have dinner” and then nothing – I was stuck inside. 

‘And thank God I had the mornings with Holly. And so every day we’d sit in the make-up room, just the two of us doing our own make-up and talking throughout the whole of lockdown, which is the most extraordinary, beautiful experience to look back on. 

‘I think the one thing I’ll take away from all of this is the mornings that we had, with Holly and I looking a bit dazed trying to make a TV programme with hardly any people and wondering what the hell was happening next.’ 

During the chat, Phillip discussed his father Brian’s heart attack which saw him ‘die’ in front of him 36 years ago, when Brian was aged 49. 

Phillip saved his father’s life and he lived until 2008. 

‘I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay’: Phillip’s statement in full 

You never know what’s going on in someone’s seemingly perfect life, what issues they are struggling with, or the state of their wellbeing – and so you won’t know what has been consuming me for the last few years. With the strength and support of my wife and my daughters, I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay. 

This is something that has caused many heart-breaking conversations at home. I have been married to Steph for nearly 27 years, and we have two beautiful grown-up daughters, Molly and Ruby.

My family have held me so close: they have tried to cheer me up, to smother me with kindness and love, despite their own confusion. Yet still I can’t sleep and there have been some very dark moments.

My inner conflict contrasts with an outside world that has changed so very much for the better. Today, quite rightly, being gay is a reason to celebrate and be proud. Yes, I am feeling pain and confusion, but that comes only from the hurt that I am causing to my family.

Steph has been incredible – I love her so very much. She is the kindest soul I have ever met. My girls have been astonishing in their love, hugs and encouraging words of comfort. Both mine and Steph’s entire families have stunned me with their love, instant acceptance and support.

Of course they are worried about Steph but I know they will scoop us both us.

My friends are the best, especially Holly, who has been so kind and wise – and who has hugged me as I sobbed on her shoulder. At ITV, I couldn’t hope to work with more wonderful, supportive teams.

Every day on This Morning, I sit in awe of those we meet who have been brave and open in confronting their truth – so now it’s my turn to share mine. This will probably all come as something and I understand, but only by facing this, by being honest, can I hope to find peace in my mind and a way forward. Please be kind, especially to my family. Phillip’. 

He said: ‘I was on the TV and the radio and so I had a very busy, hectic, lovely social life. And it was one of those incredibly rare moments when I was home…

‘He went into the kitchen and did something that he very seldom ever did and got a glass of water and came in and sat in his chair in the sitting room…And then he had the most spectacular heart attack right there in front of us and and dropped dead in his chair. 

‘My mum ran next door, my brother dialled an ambulance and I grabbed him by the ankles and pulled him off his chair. I started doing CPR in the way you’re supposed to do it but nothing was happening. 

‘I was doing mouth to mouth and CPR and nothing happened. And so I then put my left hand on his chest and was wheeling my right fist to the top of my head and smashing it down onto his chest. 

‘I did that about three times and he made a noise. I thought, well, maybe this could be working and so I just kept doing that and doing mouth mouth and doing that.’

Supportive: He was supported by Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, with whom he has been locked in a ‘civil war’ behind the scenes on ITV

Simon: Was this based on any training you’d had or just stuff you’d read?

Phillip worked on his father until the paramedics came. 

He said: ‘They zapped him and his eyes opened and he said I’m alright. And he couldn’t remember any of it but he immediately opened his eyes. 

‘They took him into the hospital and he was being checked and my hands were being checked because I bruised him so badly that I broke both arms. 

‘And he had quadruple heart bypass but the only thing he said hurt when he came around in the hospital was his chest…

‘Because I’d been thumping him for about 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived. It gave him another 25 years which was something else.’

Life, Interrupted is available on Global Player or wherever you get your podcasts, from 11th January, with new episodes every Monday thereafter. 

‘I’ve no secrets’: Full transcript from Phillip Schofield’s interview with Holly Willoughby on This Morning

‘It’s funny because, everyone I’ve spoken to, you, have all been so supportive and so loving and caring.

‘And my entire family to a person have grabbed us and said it’s OK, it’s OK, we love you, we’re proud of you.

‘And every person I tell it gets a little lighter and a little lighter but at the same time, you know, I have made this decision which is essential for me and essential for my head and that’s principally the decision why I’ve done this.

‘Of course I’m really very aware that Steph and the girls are at home watching this and we’re all together, and we spent a lot of time together, we spend a lot of time together obviously.

‘And they’ve been supporting us as we got to this moment and we all knew it was coming.

A pillar of support: TV presenter Phillip Schofield on ITV’s This Morning talking with Holly Willoughby today about his announcement that he is gay

‘So, yeah, I mean I feel a little lighter, but I’m also very aware, there’s no question that it causes pain and it causes upset. I’ve no secrets. We’ve never had any secrets. Tough, it is tough, but this is not something that’s happened quickly. I’ve had to deal with this in my head for quite some time.

‘We’ve gone through this together and we’ve been honest and we’ve been open. Steph, as I said, I can’t write in any statement what I feel about that women.

‘She is amazing, she’s incredible. There’s no one in my life who would have supported me the way, as a wife, as the way she supported me. She’s astonishing, literally astonishing.

‘It’s a good question (why now). You know this has been bothering me for a very long time and I think everybody does these things at their own speed, at their own time, when they feel the time is right.

‘I’ve no secrets’: Full transcript from Phillip Schofield’s interview with Holly Willoughby on This Morning

‘And there’s no question that it has in recent times consumed my head and has become an issue in my head.

‘And so I got to the stage where I thought we sit here every day, and I’m over there and some amazingly brave incredible person is sitting here, and I’m listening to their story and thinking ‘oh my God, you’re so brave, oh my God, you’re so brave’.

‘And I’m thinking ‘I have to be that person, I have to be that person’. I think all you can be in your life is honest with yourself. I was getting to the point where I knew I wasn’t honest with myself, I was getting to the point where I didn’t like myself very much because I wasn’t being honest with myself.

‘And so, when is the right time, when is the right time to do it? And as a family, it’s the right time.

‘There are people around the world, there are people in this country, there will be people watching this, and we always say talk to someone, and believe me, believe me, when we say that and we do say that a lot on this show, you must talk to someone, you must talk to someone, i have and it’s helped a lot.

‘And it’s brought me back – i mentioned those dark places in the statement – talking to people does bring you back. And in some cases talking to people saves you. You have to discuss it, with my friends, with my family, with my wife, we’ve talked it through – and we have to talk it through.

‘This is my decision, this is absolutely my decision. It was something I knew that I had to do. And I don’t know what the world will be like now – I don’t know how this will be taken, or what people will think.

He said: ‘But at the same time I will sit here and say actually, I’m proud of myself today. And I am proud of myself today’

‘But would I say is that yes, I am very conscious of the hurt, and so my overriding emotion with my family is obviously going to be guilt, because I do feel guilty that this can’t be anything other than a painful process for them.

‘But at the same time I will sit here and say actually, I’m proud of myself today. And I am proud of myself today. It wasn’t easy but they (my daughters) were, they are so amazing in their love and support.

‘I sat them down and I told them and they jumped up and they gave me a hug, a big hug, a long hug, and then they hugged Steph and they said it’s OK, we’ll be OK, we’ll always be a family, always us four, is what we always call ourselves. We’ll always be that.

‘It was the same with my mum, my mum is watching this today. She’s been on the phone this morning – hope you’re OK. I went down to see her, she’s down in Cornwall, and I went down to see her. And I told her and she said ‘oh, OK, well, I don’t care’ – and that’s the same with everyone.

‘No I don’t think so (thinking about future relationships) – I’m not thinking there. I’m doing each day at a time now, this has always been a slow process and there is no fast process after this.

‘This was the big day and this was the day that I knew everything was pointing towards and I could not have don’t it if it hadn’t been you. So afterwards I don’t know, but no, there’s no one, I’m not rushing out to anybody.’

His side of the story: Phillip was open and honest during the appearance in which he chatted to his good friend

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