‘She’d be thrilled to work with him’: Holly Willoughby’s ‘close pal Dermot O’Leary lined up as Phillip Schofield’s replacement if he’s axed from This Morning’ amid off-air ‘feud’
Dermot O’Leary has reportedly become the front runner to replace Phillip Schofield on This Morning should the broadcaster be axed amid ‘feud’ rumours with co-host Holly Willoughby.
ITV bosses were said to be in crisis talks over Phillip’s future on the mid morning show, after he reportedly ‘confronted’ Holly in a tense phone call.
Phillip, 60, has been dogged by scandal after his paedophile brother Timothy was convicted – with a cloud also hanging over Holly, 42, after they were both accused of jumping the queue to see the Queen lying in state last year.
And now her close friend Dermot, 49, is tipped to be front-runner to save the programme with a source saying she would be ‘delighted’ to work with him.
The insider told The Sun: ‘Phil’s contract is up for renewal at the end of this year and as it stands, there are a number of people working on the show who think it’s time for a shake-up’.
Famous friends: Dermot O’Leary has reportedly become the front runner to replace Phillip Schofield on This Morning should he be axed amid ‘ feud’ rumours with Holly Willoughby (pictured together in 2013)
Tough times: ITV bosses were said to be in crisis talks over Phillip’s future on the mid morning show, after he reportedly ‘confronted’ Holly in a tense phone call
‘He is a good friend to Holly so naturally she would be thrilled if they were able to work together more often’.
Dermot first joined ITV show in 2021 and presents the show every Friday alongside Alison Hammond.
The source even suggested a Good Morning Britain style set up may occur, with Holly joined by a rotation of co-presenters.
‘There are so many hugely popular stars who fit well with Holly, from Alison and Josie Gibson, to Vernon Kay and Rylan Clark.
MailOnline have contacted ITV and reps for Dermot and Holly for comment.
Amid rumours of their feud, a ‘devastated’ Phillip is said to have phoned Holly to discuss it and is reportedly ‘saddened’ she didn’t speak out, with a pal describing her silence as ‘deafening’.
However, Holly is said to have been ‘blindsided’ after her co-star went behind her back to release an extraordinary statement confirming rumours of a rift.
Chiefs at ITV have now called meetings to discuss what to do next amid the duo’s row and Schofield’s popularity with the programme’s viewers plummeting.
Delighted: Now Holly’s close friend Dermot, 49, is tipped to be front-runner to save the programme (pictured hosting the show together in 2014)
Stars of the show: Dermot first joined ITV show in 2021 and presents the show every Friday alongside Alison Hammond
And the Daily Mail can also reveal that the channel would not confirm that Monday’s episode of This Morning would take place as normal. The pair host the chat show together from Monday to Thursday every week.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Phillip and Holly’s feud has seen then abandon their annual routine of holidaying together with their families.
Amid reports of their feud, Phillip is said to have called Holly to discuss how publicly it has aired, after he released a statement saying the last few weeks hadn’t been ‘easy’.
Phillip has reportedly been left ‘saddened’ that his words didn’t prompt Holly to speak out on the alleged feud too, according to The Sun.
A friend told the publication: ‘Things have been difficult between them, but for it to play out so publicly was the last thing Phil was ever expecting.
‘He has spoken with Holly over the phone about how this all played out. He’s devastated by it all and is incredibly upset.’
Phillip’s contract is up for renewal in September but because he takes the summer holidays off, his final episode would be in July if ITV were to axe him.
According to a source, Phillip wants to stay on This Morning and is said to be ‘scared’ he is going to be pushed out amid rumours of a feud with Holly.
Phone call: A ‘devastated’ Phillip is said to have phoned Holly to discuss it and is reportedly ‘saddened’ she didn’t speak out, with a pal describing her silence as ‘deafening’
Amid claims Holly wants to move on alone on-screen, the source told The Sun: ‘His relationship with Holly had become more distant recently but Phil had no idea it would all become so public and that she wanted to strike out alone.’
MailOnline has contacted ITV and Holly and Phillip’s representatives for comment.
Holly, 42, is said to be mulling over how her career moves forward, as those close to her fear that there is ‘no way back’ for her friendship with Phillip.
Sources close to the star say she was ‘surprised and sad’ that her co-star, 61, released a statement on Thursday night where he confirmed their friendship had been under strain recently.
Revealed: Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield ‘are barely speaking’ off-screen
Holly Willoughby was left blindsided on Thursday night after her This Morning co-star Phillip Schofield released an extraordinary statement about their rumoured feud.
He said: ‘The last few weeks haven’t been easy for either of us. As I have said before, Holly is my rock.
‘We’re the best of friends – as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone. Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I’ve been there for her.’
However, friends of Holly view the outburst as a ‘betrayal’ and some of her loved ones are now urging her to ditch Phillip – the man who gave her her break on This Morning back in 2009.
One said: ‘The statement came out of nowhere for Holly and it was upsetting. What a betrayal. It feels like Phil is looking after himself here, with no regard for her.
‘Can she move forward with Phil? Probably not. That’s certainly what those who care for her are saying.’
Meanwhile, it has also been reported that Phillip is fighting to keep his job on the ITV breakfast show.
A source told The Mirror: ‘Monday is very much D-day.’
Another insider claimed if viewers do not believe in Holly and Phillip’s relationship and chemistry off-screen, then ITV ‘will act’.
They added: ‘Phil’s position is looking increasingly precarious. Monday is very much D-day, but the same could apply to any day next week, no one is bigger than the brand.’
Rumours of a rift began after it was claimed Holly was upset that she heard from a third party about Phillip’s brother Timothy’s child sex court case in March.
Phillip’s statement to The Sun newspaper read: ‘Holly’s support throughout meant the world to me, as did the support of my bosses at ITV, my editor Martin Frizell and the whole This Morning family.
‘And of course Holly has herself been ill with shingles.’
Meanwhile, This Morning editor Mr Frizell has pulled his support for Phillip having previously been a staunch supporter of the star.
Sources said he is fed up with clearing up Phillip’s ‘mess’. Holly has made it clear that she has no intentions to leave This Morning.
Future: Chiefs at ITV have now called meetings to discuss what to do next amid the duo’s row and Schofield’s popularity with the programme’s viewers plummeting
Recent controversies included his refusal to address jumping the queue to see the late Queen laying in state last September.
It is likely that if Phillip does depart, it would become her show or she would be joined by Alison Hammond.
Holly and Phillip were reunited on the This Morning sofa this month and did their best to make it look carefree, bopping along to Lulu’s Boom Bang A Bang on Thursday’s show.
But the extra-bright smiles and jovial playing around were a pretence, the Mail understands, to publicly bat off claims that their once-close friendship had broken down to ‘literally nothing’.
Seconds after the music stopped, Holly nervously played with her wedding ring, unable to look her co-star in the eye as she wished her son Harry a happy 14th birthday.
Phil joined in, but there was a definite chill in the air.
Fans have also claimed Holly has removed Phillip from her Twitter in the midst of their alleged fall-out.
As social media erupted with comments about the pair’s on-screen interactions, some noted the changes in Holly’s social media account.
Twitter users claimed Holly’s Twitter bio previously featured Phillip, with a tagline reading: I was introduced to this by a Twitter legend’ with Phillip’s name linked in her bio’, however the bio now lists her career accolades.
Holly’s Twitter bio currently reads: ‘Broadcaster, Founder of Wyldemoon, Brand ambassador for Marks & Spencer and Garnier, Author of Reflections.’ It is not clear when the change was made despite the fan speculation.
There has been talk as to why their 14-year reign as ‘besties’ is over, but the Mail has been told that at the heart of the fall-out is a dispute over whether Phillip confided in Holly that his brother Timothy, a police IT worker, faced charges of child sex offences.
Not so long ago, the pair were undeniably close. After a National Television Awards win in 2016 they turned up for their slot seemingly hungover from celebrating the night before
History: The presenting duo (pictured in November 2009) have worked together for more than a decade after Holly took over from Fern Britton as Phillip’s co-host back in 2009
Friends say Holly was in the dark until Phillip took a week’s leave from the ITV daytime show to avoid the limelight while the trial took place last month – something he is at pains to deny.
A spokesman for Holly declined to comment when asked if she was kept in the dark over the court case. Phillip said it was ‘categorically untrue’.
Timothy Schofield was convicted of 11 offences and will be sentenced on 19 May.
Sources close to Holly claim she is ‘deeply upset’ that she found out what was happening from a third party. Not so long ago, the pair were undeniably close.
WHO WILL REPLACE PHILLIP SCHOFIELD ON THIS MORNING?
Amid reports of a feud with co-host Holly Willoughby, one ultra loyal ITV boss once willing to take ‘bullets’ for Phillip Schofield is now said to be ‘fed up of clearing up his mess’.
Fans have also called for Phillip to quit his position, saying This Morning should overhaul their presenting lineup, after the positive fan response when Holly recently hosted the show with Alison Hammond.
Phillip has been dogged by scandal after his paedophile brother Timothy was convicted – with a cloud also hanging over Holly after they were both accused of jumping the queue to see the Queen lying in state last year.
Now MailOnline takes a look at the bookies’ favourites to take over if Phil decides to step down.
Who could be sitting next to Holly? A host of celebrities have been tipped to take over from Phillip Schofield as the embattled star fights to keep his job on This Morning
Dermot O’Leary – 4/5
According to BettingSites.co.uk, the frontrunner to take over from Phillip Schofield is Dermot O’Leary as the 4/5 odds-on favourite.
Dermot, 49, is already a regular on the programme, taking over as a co-host of the Friday slot in January 2021 with Alison Hammond.
If offered the job, it’s likely Dermot would accept as he previously revealed he would love to host This Morning for another decade.
Speaking on the podcast Dish in December, he said: ‘It’s a nice thing. If someone said to me “you’re doing Fridays for the next 10 years”. I’d be over the moon. I love it.’
Fan favourite: According to BettingSites.co.uk, the frontrunner to take over from Phillip Schofield is Dermot O’Leary as the 4/5 odds-on favourite
Rochelle Humes – 6/1
Rochelle Humes is the second favourite having appeared on the ITV show regularly since 2013.
She originally joined the show to co-host with her husband Marvin but has been working alongside different presenters since 2018.
Recently she was drafted in to save the day at the 11th hour when Holly came down with shingles just as Phillip returned to the show after a two-week absence.
With Holly forced to remain at home until her symptoms pass, Rochelle, 34, was on hand to welcome Phillip back to This Morning after his own lengthy hiatus
The presenter was back on the couch for the first time since pedophile brother Timothy, a former school teacher, was convicted of 11 sexual offences against a boy.
Could it be an all-girl team? Rochelle Humes is the second favourite having appeared on the ITV show regularly since 2013
Joel Dommett 8/1
Having stepped in to replace Phillip during his leave of absence, Joel Dommett has odds of 8/1 to take over.
Joel has been a regular on TV screens for years, from coming second in 2016’s I’m A Celebrity to his current role as host of The Masked Singer.
Fans praised his chemistry with Holly and ITV bosses organised a sweet surprise for the star when they arranged for his model girlfriend to surprise him on the show during a fashion segment.
Fresh new face? Having stepped in to replace Phillip during his leave of absence, Joel Dommett has odds of 8/1 to take over
Alison Hammond 10/1
Since 2021, Alison Hammond has co-hosted the Friday slot on This Morning and recently stepped in to cover Phillip during his absence.
ITV sources say that she and Holly were regarded as a ‘total joy’ at the channel, which also took note of social media feedback that confirmed the duo were popular with fans too.
One source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It was a super-clever idea to slot Alison in with Holly, and it worked so well.
‘It was a new dynamic for Holly who has starred with Phil almost every time she has appeared on This Morning for nearly 14 years.
‘The bosses are absolutely delighted with their decision to put them together and want to find ways to do it more often.
‘They see Alison as the future but who thought it would be alongside Holly? It works on Strictly [having two female hosts] so why not on This Morning? While nobody is supposed to discuss Phil and his future at This Morning, obviously since Holly and Alison hosted together, it has become a topic of discussion.’
TV star: Since 2021, Alison Hammond has co-hosted the Friday slot on This Morning and recently stepped in to cover Phillip during his absence
Phil Vickery 20/1
Phil Vickery, 61, has been a staple on This Morning for more than two decades as the resident chef, but bookies have tipped him to take on a bigger role.
Fern Britton’s ex-husband joined the morning show in 2006 and quickly became a regular asset.
Yet despite being a longstanding member of the team, Phil recently revealed that he wouldn’t ‘whinge’ if ITV decided to axe him.
Speaking to Kaye Adams on her How To Be 60 podcast in January, he confessed: ‘When This Morning stops for me, I’ll be gone. I’ll be gone completely.
‘I won’t be there whinging about, kicking about after 25 years. I’ll be like, “It’s just the way it is. That’s what happens in telly.”‘
Cooking up a storm: Phil Vickery, 61, has been a staple on This Morning for more than two decades as the resident chef, but bookies have tipped him to take on a bigger role
Ore Oduba 20/1
In 2016, Ore Oduba made his This Morning debut, causing quite the impression as he overcame his phobia of birds.
Four years later, the Strictly Come Dancing star was drafted in as a guest presenter amid calls for the ITV show to hire permanent non-white stars to present the show.
The Mail on Sunday previously revealed that the programme’s editor Martin Frizell said: ‘There is not a black presenter on any of the programmes today.
‘We plan to change that, we [This Morning] are looking into it.’
This Morning did not have a main black presenter since its launch until Alison joined the roster in 2021.
Familiar face: In 2016, Ore Oduba made his This Morning debut, causing quite the impression as he overcame his phobia of birds. Four years later he was drafted in as a guest presenter
Eamonn Holmes 50/1
A surprising addition to the list is Eamonn Holmes, co-hosted the daytime show from 2006 until August 2021, until being ‘dropped’ by ITV and replaced by Alison and Dermot.
Eamonn made no secret of the fact that he was upset about the decision and also ‘liked’ a number of other tweets slamming the show, with one reading: ‘Absolutely rubbish that show since Eamonn and Ruth left, I stopped watching it totally’.
The presenter also claimed he ‘wasn’t treated with respect’ during his time on the show.
Eamonn told The Guardian: ‘I joined GB News because options dried up. The “wrong age”, at the “wrong stage” – at some point it becomes very hard to get work.
‘It was obvious I didn’t tick the boxes for ITV any more and I wasn’t being treated with respect there.
Grudge? A surprising addition to the list is Eamonn Holmes, co-hosted the daytime show from 2006 until August 2021, until being ‘dropped’ by ITV and replaced by Alison and Dermot
Ruth Langsford 50/1
Eamonn’s wife Ruth Langsford has also been tipped at odds of 50/1.
While she was axed at the same time as her husband, she hasn’t spoken out in the same way as her husband, even returning to the show last year to co-present with Rylan Clark while Holly and Phil were on a summer break.
Unlike her husband, Ruth has also stayed loyal to the ITV channel, continuing to regularly present lunchtime show, Loose Women.
Comeback queen? Eamonn’s wife Ruth Langsford has also been tipped at odds of 50/1. While she was axed at the same time as her husband, she hasn’t spoken out in the same way
Josie Gibson 50/1
While Josie Gibson has long appeared as a regular guest presenter on the show, it wasn’t until 2021 that she was called up to co-host the programme.
The Big Brother star stood in for tummy bug-stricken Holly and delighted viewers so much that they called on bosses to make her a permanent co-host.
Speaking about the positive reaction to her debut, she mused: ‘Social media can be a very dark place. But yesterday I was showered with love. It’s really embarrassing, but I had a good cry for about half an hour!’
Phil asked Josie if she had cried tears of ‘relief’, and she admitted: ‘It was just so emotional. It was a really big thing to be sat here with you yesterday, and to have all those lovely messages.’
Show regular: While Josie Gibson has long appeared as a regular guest presenter on the show, it wasn’t until 2021 that she was called up to co-host the programme
Richard & Judy 100/1
Husband and wife duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan were the original presenters of the ITV mainstay from 1988 to 2001, and have returned for a few guest appearances in recent years.
The couple left the programme when they were poached by Channel 4 to front their own eponymous afternoon show, Richard & Judy.
Judy’s last television job was in October 2014 when she was introduced as a regular panellist for Loose Women.
However, on her first day, Judy was criticised for defending footballer Ched Evans, who was convicted of rape in 2012 before being acquitted in 2016 and she quit the show shortly afterwards.
Richard has remained in the spotlight as a regular presenter on Good Morning Britain.
Ultimate comeback? Husband and wife duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan were the original presenters of the ITV mainstay from 1988 to 2001
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