PHILLIP Schofield has today bravely revealed he is gay – as he paid tribute to the support of his “incredible” wife and daughters.
The 57-year-old This Morning star – who has been married for nearly 27 years – opened up to friend and co-host Holly Willoughby as he described his “inner conflict”.
Fighting back tears, the much-loved presenter said he was aware of the “pain and upset” caused but that it had consumed him for years.
In an incredibly moving interview, he told Holly: “It’s tough but this is not something that’s happened quickly, I’ve had to deal this in my head for quite some time.
“I got to the stage where I thought we sit here, every day, and some amazingly brave person is sitting over there and I’m thinking ‘I have to be that person’.
“All you can be in your life is honest with yourself. I was getting to a stage in my life where I was thinking I don’t really like myself because I’m not being honest with myself.
“We always say ‘talk to someone’… and you must talk to someone. It’s brought me back from some dark places and in some cases talking to people saves you.”
In emotional live on air scenes, he then hugged Holly, who vowed she would always sit next to him and be there “forever and ever”.
It came as…
As Phillip said he “couldn’t have done it” without his friend and co-host, she told him: “Come and sit here now, where you should be” – moving him to sit next to her on the couch.
Holly, wiping away tears, held hands with Phillip on the sofa as he told her she was the “sister he never had”.
And Holly, 38, said she could feel the “relief” from Phillip after he bravely opened up.
Phillip, who married Stephanie Lowe in March 1993, said he felt “overriding guilt” over the impact his statement would have on his wife and daughters.
But he said they had immediately supported him, saying wife Steph had been “simply astonishing”.
Wearing his wedding ring as he sat down to make the announcement today, he said he had “never had any secrets” from Steph – saying the relationship was always “honest and open”.
And he recounted how he was immediately wrapped up in a “big and long” hug by his daughters when he told them.
With the strength and support of my wife and my daughters, I have been coming to the terms with the fact that I am gay.
Phillip also revealed the moment he told his mum Pat Wallingford, who supportively told him she “didn’t care”
And Phillip said he had started to feel “lighter” after telling his family and friends – saying talking about these things is “saves you”.
But when Holly asked him any future relationships, he said: “I don’t think so, I’m not thinking there, I’m doing each day at a time now.
“And this has always been a slow process and there’s no fast process after, this was the big day, and this was the day I knew that everything was pointing towards.
“I could not have done it if it hadn’t been for you, so afterwards I don’t know, there’s no one, I’m not rushing to anybody.”
The presenter had first made the announcement on Instagram.
He wrote on social media today: “With the strength and support of my wife and my daughters, I have been coming to the terms with the fact that I am gay.”
He added: “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 I still can’t sleep and there have been some very dark moments.”
Phillip met while Stephanie was working as a BBC production assistant and he was working for BBC children’s television.
They have two daughters together, Ruby, 24, and Molly, 27.
The announcement came just a few weeks shy of the couple’s 27th wedding anniversary on March 30.
Phillip had previously marked his silver wedding anniversary in 2018 on Instagram, gushing: “2 birthdays and a Silver Wedding Anniversary in one week!
“That’s a lot of cards. Happy 25th Mrs S.”
Phillip has co-hosted the daytime show with Holly Willoughby for more than a decade, with the pair often left in fits of laughter during segments.
And Holly threw her support behind Phillip, writing on Instagram: “Never been more proud of my friend than I am today.”
Stars have flocked to support Phillip after the announcement
Presenter and stylist Gok Wan said on Twitter: “So much love to you, such bravery.”
Comedian Matt Lucas commented on Twitter about the news that presenter Phillip Schofield has come out as gay. He said on Twitter: “I’m not surprised about Philip Schofield.
“Growing up I remember him presenting with Gordon the Gopher from inside that closet!
“Joking aside, that cannot have been an easy statement to make. People come out at different stages in their lives. Good luck Philip.”
Actor and comedian David Walliams said on Twitter: “I am sending all my love to Phillip Schofield today. I have always held him in the highest regard, and now have nothing but respect and admiration for him.
“Let’s hope we are moving towards a world where no-one has to come out anymore, they can just be who they are and celebrate that.”
Phillip’s full statement:
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 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 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, 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 up.
My friends are the best, especially Holly, who has been so kind and wife – 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 not it’s my turn to share mine.
This will probably all come as something as a surprise 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.
The popular presenter first began his career in the media in 1982 – working in New Zealand radio before returning to the UK to work for the BBC.
He then hosted ITV shows including Schofield’s Quest before snagging the role as This Morning presenter in 2002 with Fern Britton.
Holly Willoughby then replaced Fern, with she and Phillip becoming close friends and even taking family holidays together.
They also host Dancing on Ice together.
Schofield is also known for his work with charities, becoming the patron for the charity CHASE hospice care for children.
He also became an Honorary Patron of the Blue Lamp Foundation.