ITV's This Morning 'needs Philip Schofield back' to stay relevant, expert claims

Phillip Schofield might be on the brink of a television revival despite his absence from the spotlight for over a year, according to a PR expert. The ex-ITV star, who was a staple on This Morning for two decades, faced a scandal last May when he confessed to an "unwise but not illegal" affair with a younger male colleague. Since then, the veteran presenter has stayed away from public attention.

The 62 year old issued an apology for misleading statements about the affair, and after his management team stepped back and close friend Holly Willoughby expressed feelings of betrayal, it seemed his career could have had hit rock bottom.

He reportedly "lost everything" following the backlash and took shelter at his mother's place in Cornwall. Sightings of him have been scarce, limited to occasional dog walks with his family. Recently, however, he was seen with Declan Donnelly, fuelling speculation that he might be joining I'm A Celebrity, reports the Mirror.

Edward Coram James, CEO of Go Up and a PR and crisis management specialist, has voiced that Phil is likely to make a comeback soon. He criticized ITV's hasty and "disproportionate" reaction to Phillip's controversy last year and suggested that the network needs its well-known personality back to boost ratings.

New hosts Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard, announced in March, have been met with mixed reviews from viewers. Some fans took to social media to express their confusion over the choice of the pair as replacements for Holly and Phillip.

One viewer wrote: "I don't even watch morning TV but for the life of me I CANNOT understand why these two aren't the main hosts! Mind boggling."

However, a spokesperson for This Morning defended the new hosts, previously telling The Mirror: "Ben and Cat have recorded the best audience reach of the year so far on This Morning with 4.5 million viewers across one week."

They also revealed that viewing figures for January - March 2024 were up 5% compared to the same period in 2023. PR expert Ed said British TV channels were facing stiff competition from American streaming giants, suggesting that well-known hosts with plenty of experience, like Phillip, are needed to keep audiences tuning in.

He said: "If they are to stand even the slightest chance of remaining relevant, they will need all of the help and pulling power that they can get. Schofield has always proven himself to be popular. He's now proven himself to be flexible and disciplined.

"Attributes that will be absolutely crucial for the likes of ITV in the years ahead, and attributes that ITV showed a total lack of in the way that they handled the initial scandal. To put it simply: ITV needs Schofield a whole lot more than Schofield needs ITV."

When approached by OK!, ITV did not wish to comment on the matter.

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby presenting this morning
Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby presenting this morning

"Having witnessed Schofield's handling of the fallout, there is every reason to believe that he could regain his moniker. The TV networks would be foolish to ignore it. If they are to stand even the slightest chance of remaining relevant, they will need all of the help and pulling power that they can get."

Ed also praised Phillip's ability to stay out of the limelight to let the scandal pass. "It takes serious, serious discipline to go radio silent for as long as Schofield did," he explained.

"Crucially, his discipline allowed him to go through the crisis without compromising his personal brand." He also said he was impressed with Phillip's ability to show "kindness" to himself and others during the time of crisis.

"Schofield managed not only to navigate his crisis with discipline, he managed to navigate it with kindness. Kindness to himself, and kindness to others. The kindness to himself came in him going offline. He did not need to see some of the vitriol being written on social media, and what better way to avoid such insults than to disengage entirely? And kindness to others. Even in his darkest hour, he avoided lending an unkind word, even to his most vocal detractors. As such, his brand may have lost a few feathers, but it's far from knocked out."