One of the most recognizable faces on British TV has surprised viewers and the wider industry by coming out as gay.
Phillip Schofield, who co-hosts ITV’s mid-morning chat show This Morning, posted a lengthy message to his Instagram today to say that after being married to wife Steph for the past 27 years, he was coming out.
Related: Jameela Jamil comes out on Twitter
Schofield, 57, got his first big break on TV when he began working for Children’s BBC in 1985. He has been a near-constant presence on British TV screens since that time, graduating to co-hosting This Morning in 2002. He also co-hosts primetime show Dancing on Ice.
His full statement reads as follows.
“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 [Willoughby], 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.”
Schofield co-hosts This Morning with Holly Willoughby. On today’s show, which aired minutes after Schofield’s Instagram posting appeared. Willoughby and Schofield addressed his coming out as the first topic of discussion.
“This is a big day, I know this is something you’ve been living with for a really long time,” said Willoughby.
Schofield said everyone he’s talked to had been supportive and told him they loved him and were proud of him.
“Every person I tell it gets a little lighter and a little lighter,” he said. “At the same time I have made this decision which is essential for me and essential for my head and that is principally the reason I have done this. They have been supporting while we get to this moment because we all know it was coming.”
Schofield and Willoughby have interviewed many members of the public and celebrities, and many of their interviewees have touched upon LGBTQ issues.
‘Everyone does these things at their own speed in their own time when the time is right,” said Schofield. “There’s no question it has in recent times consumed by 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 it sitting here and I’m listening to their story and thinking oh my God you’re so brave, and I’m thinking I have to be that person.”
LGBT advocacy group Stonewall was among the first to congratulate Schofield.
“Incredibly brave and moving announcement from Phillip Schofield this morning. It takes a lot of courage and is always a hugely personal decision to be open about who you are. Congrats Phillip.”
Incredibly brave and moving announcement from Phillip Schofield this morning. It takes a lot of courage and is always a hugely personal decision to be open about who you are. Congrats Phillip ? https://t.co/TY32BaL2vL
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) February 7, 2020
A tweet from fellow broadcaster Richard Osman summed up the high regard with which Schofield is held in the British TV industry.
When you create a new entertainment show and start discussing who should host, the first name on the list is always Phillip Schofield. That’s a fact. He’s just the very best at what he does, and the public adore him. Looking forward to many more years of his charm and brilliance.
— Richard Osman (@richardosman) February 7, 2020
“When you create a new entertainment show and start discussing who should host, the first name on the list is always Phillip Schofield,” said Osman. “That’s a fact. He’s just the very best at what he does, and the public adore him. Looking forward to many more years of his charm and brilliance.”