ALISON BOSHOFF asks – why DOES Eamonn Holmes hate Phillip Schofield?
His public relish at the downfall of his former This Morning colleague has left the world of TV agog and his anger shows no sign of abating. So, ALISON BOSHOFF asks – why DOES Eamonn Holmes hate Phillip Schofield with such venom?
With its blaze of bruising publicity, it’s little wonder insiders have dubbed Phillip Schofield’s daytime TV downfall the ‘sofapocalypse’.
But as Phillip retreats to lick his wounds and Holly Willoughby fights for her onscreen survival, there’s one former This Morning colleague who is not weeping into his morning coffee over their fates.
Indeed, Eamonn Holmes is giving every impression of eating up the chaos with a big smile, long spoon and a side order of ice cream and sprinkles.
Again and again he has returned to the topic on his live GB News show.
‘Anyone watching today who has kissed Phillip Schofield, let us know,’ he deadpanned this week, mocking Schofield for saying he had made just one ‘mistake’ in his 41-year career, while attempting to defend his fling with a male colleague aged 20.
As Phillip retreats to lick his wounds and Holly Willoughby fights for her onscreen survival, there’s one former This Morning colleague who is not weeping into his morning coffee over their fates
Indeed, Eamonn Holmes is giving every impression of eating up the chaos with a big smile, long spoon and a side order of ice cream and sprinkles. Again and again he has returned to the topic on his live GB News show
And on Tuesday, the day after her much-mocked ‘are you OK?’ statement, after her two-week break from the show following Schofield’s exit, Eamonn observed of Holly: ‘You think she’s got a big mouth? She won’t be using it today.’
Clearly, the Irishman has a canny sense for what makes good television. But there’s more to Eamonn’s relish at 61-year-old Schofield’s downfall than just wanting to entertain his viewers.
The roots of his loathing for his old colleague go back decades, a roiling mix of grievance at his professional and financial success, and a hatred of what Eamonn perceived to be rude and high-handed behaviour.
Added to this, there seems to be a genuine concern for the young man who became involved with Phillip.
Indeed, Eamonn says he and wife Ruth Langsford, another former This Morning host, were good friends with the youngster, particularly motherly Ruth who worked with him after his ill-fated romance ended and he moved to Loose Women, where she’s a presenter.
But his comments have certainly made life tricky for his wife.
From her hot seat on Loose Women this week, Ruth has had to navigate live handovers with Holly, sometimes only a few hours after her husband’s latest outburst.
‘People in TV are genuinely agog over how aggressively Eamonn has briefed against Phillip, but he thinks Phillip and Holly were a pair of phoneys, that Phillip was a colossal fraud.
He’s genuinely angry,’ says a source. ‘Lord knows what Ruth is thinking.’
Some of Eamonn’s assertions have been challenged. He claimed the young man stayed over with Phillip on ‘playtime’ Thursdays and would arrive back at work on a Friday morning in a taxi paid for by ITV.
Yet Schofield insists he had only around five encounters with the man, that he only came to his flat once and he didn’t have an ITV taxi account.
Friends of Eamonn, meanwhile, tell me they aren’t surprised by the interventions because Eamonn’s oft-expressed view was that he was the only proper journalist on This Morning — and it was unjust that Schofield was not only above him in the hierarchy, but paid so much more than him.
Eamonn was said to be on around £150,000 a year for his one-day-a-week presenting role, while Holly and Phil were on more than £700,000 for their four days.
Some of Eamonn’s assertions have been challenged. He claimed the young man stayed over with Phillip on ‘playtime’ Thursdays and would arrive back at work on a Friday morning in a taxi paid for by ITV
A source tells me: ‘Phillip had the red carpet treatment. He and Holly were seen as stars. All TV is a hierarchy and they were paid far more. Eamonn chafed against it.
‘His rider [the requests a star makes for their dressing room] was a block of inexpensive cheese, but Phillip would get lovely wines brought in from Farr Vintners.
‘Eamonn couldn’t see how someone like him, a proper journalist, would come beneath the bloke who was in the broom cupboard with Gordon The Gopher.’
This angst was only heightened by Eamonn’s troubled past with This Morning editor Martin Frizell. Indeed, Frizell said grimly of the relentless coverage of the scandal last weekend: ‘I think there’s [sic] some scores being settled.’
He named no names, but surely must have been thinking of Eamonn.
Many years ago, Frizell was — just like Eamonn — a noted journalist, covering the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square massacre.
In 2000, he joined his wife, Fiona Phillips, on GMTV as editor of the show. She had been the anchor on GMTV for three years by then, alongside Eamonn, who had been in situ since 1993.
At first, their sofa pairing was harmonious. But Eamonn admitted in his autobiography: ‘He was the boss of both me and his wife — not a scenario they would recommend in Harvard Business School.’ Within weeks of arriving, Frizell told Eamonn he wanted to downgrade him from five days to four, bringing in Andrew Castle.
The shake-up ended with a titanic clash over Eamonn’s hours and pay.
Eamonn wanted to be paid as per his five-day-a-week contract, while management felt he should take a pay cut to reflect the lesser hours worked.
Lawyers were called in. Eamonn kept his money, but started to look for a new job.
(One pal from those days sighs: ‘He definitely had a point, but it is easier to cross Eamonn than it is to cross a road.’)
Eamonn told friends later: ‘I can’t tell you how awful Martin Frizell made life for me. He made my existence a living hell.’
This angst was only heightened by Eamonn’s troubled past with This Morning editor Martin Frizell (left)
A year after leaving GMTV, Eamonn started presenting This Morning on Fridays with wife Ruth, while Fern Britton and Schofield were the Monday to Thursday team.
Again, at first all seemed well. But Fern quit in 2009, allegedly tired of Phillip’s power on the programme and his higher salary (although she later denied she’d departed because of money).
Phillip was allowed to choose her successor — step forward his ‘bestie’ Holly Willoughby — and, in 2016, the pair were joined by Eamonn’s former boss Frizell.
Frizell was delighted by Phillip, whom he regarded as the ‘king’ of the show. For his part, Phillip called Frizell: ‘The best captain we have ever had.’
Where did all of this leave Eamonn? Out in the cold, apparently.
A source said: ‘Phillip was very dismissive of Eamonn, quite openly, and so was Martin. We used to call Eamonn and Ruth ‘the B team’.
Guests were cherry-picked to be on the show from Monday to Thursday — that’s where the prestige was.
‘On a personal level, Phillip and Eamonn never got on. Eamonn found him snippy and passive- aggressive, and thought he treated the lower-down people on the show very badly.
Phillip was impolite. He would ignore you and then be nice to you, and you were meant to be grateful for that. It made Eamonn furious.’
A source said: ‘Phillip was very dismissive of Eamonn, quite openly, and so was Martin. We used to call Eamonn and Ruth ‘the B team’
In the run-up to the 2019 general election, tensions came to a head. Frizell was insistent Eamonn should present then Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with a This Morning Christmas bauble.
Eamonn was equally insistent that he would do no such thing, saying it would breach impartiality rules for broadcasters in the weeks before an election.
‘He and Frizz didn’t speak again after that,’ says the senior source.
In late 2019, Schofield’s much-gossiped about relationship with his young runner came to an end.
Some say he declared his love for ‘Schofe’ at the National Television Awards in January 2020 — others claim they had an altercation.
TV presenter Piers Morgan says the former happened, while GB News host Dan Wootton says he saw confrontations between the man and Phillip and Holly separately that night.
A few weeks later, Phillip ‘came out’ to none other than Eamonn and Ruth on the Friday edition of This Morning. Afterwards, Eamonn said he had only been told what was happening 20 minutes before.
Onscreen, Eamonn joked to Phillip that discovering he was gay settled a question: ‘There is this great imponderable in life that has always bothered me.
‘I thought how come hecan sit in a hot tub with Holly Willoughby and Steph [Phillip’s wife] doesn’t have a problem and Dan [Holly’s husband] doesn’t have a problem?’
In late 2019, Schofield’s much-gossiped about relationship with his young runner came to an end. Some say he declared his love for ‘Schofe’ at the National Television Awards in January 2020 — others claim they had an altercation
Phillip, however, fully defended Eamonn, tweeting: ‘Can I just say that @EamonnHolmes & @RuthieeL were utterly magnificent with me today, privately downstairs just the three of us and upstairs in front of the world.
‘I couldn’t have hoped for a better, calming and loving set of hugs and support, I adore them both.’
However, Eamonn now says he feels he was ‘used’ on that day.
In October 2020, Phillip released his big-money autobiography, Life’s What You Make It. A sign of the lack of goodwill between the two men is that he misspelled Eamonn’s name throughout.
Within nine months, he and Ruth were on a warning that Frizell wanted to shake-up the presenting team to include popular stand-in Alison Hammond.
The married couple, both 60 at the time, were ‘surprised and furious’ to be told they were losing their regular weekly gig.
Well-connected sources claimed they felt ‘cast onto the scrapheap’. When they left, many colleagues got in touch to offer their good wishes for the future.
From Phillip and Holly there was not a solitary word, call, text or card. Eamonn told pals that Holly was ‘blank, aloof and cold’ when they were colleagues — and now it’s as if he never existed.
‘He says that [Phillip and Holly] were rude, cold and poisonous towards him which he still cannot understand.
‘Eamonn’s view is Holly and Phil always thought they were way above the audience, and way above Eamonn and Ruth — and they were wrong on both counts.’
As Holly fights to retain goodwill among viewers — and for her continued career on This Morning — you have to wonder: does she ever reflect on how life might be easier if she had Eamonn on her side?
Source: Read Full Article