HE was once known as the “beige man of TV”, but Phillip Schofield is anything but.
From dabbling in drugs to wild nights out, the early part of Phillip’s life was a far cry from his wholesome image as a kids’ TV presenter.
Now, Phillip, 58, reveals all in his explosive new memoir Life’s What You Make It.
He writes: “Children’s presenters were expected to be squeaky clean. I couldn’t be bound by those restrictions.”
Schofe made his name as a continuity presenter in the “Broom Cupboard” for Children’s BBC before moving on to Saturday morning show Going Live!
While a professional on air, his bosses would have been shocked to know he experimented with marijuana — although he says he never liked it.
He writes: “On the rare occasions I’ve tried it, it has either made me sick, or made me feel like I have been darted with a tranquilliser.”
Describing having his first joint while living in New Zealand in his early twenties, Phil says he passed out — but with a smile on his face.
His friends carried him to bed, before putting on the album Love Over Gold, by Dire Straits.
In his stoned state, Phil fell in love with it and will not hear a bad word said against it to this day.
I felt like I was in The Graduate, an older lady and an 18-year-old, and she taught me things
But he says he favoured booze and in his 20s would consume large quantities on wild nights out in Chiswick, West London, with friends — relying on bar staff to never rat him out to the Press or BBC bosses.
In the book, Phillip also writes movingly about his battle with his secret sexuality, as we revealed yesterday.
But as a young man he was decidedly heterosexual, and had his sexual awakening with an older woman while living in a bedsit in West London’s St John’s Wood.
He recalls: “I was seeing an older lady in Swiss Cottage called Madeline who was . . . fascinating. I felt like I was in The Graduate, an older lady and an 18-year-old, and she taught me things.”
‘SHE HAS GREAT BOOBS’
Later, he fell for Gloria Hunniford’s “wild” daughter Caron Keating when he saw her introduced as a new presenter on Blue Peter.
They dated, with Phil describing the relationship as “great fun, brilliantly chaotic, but not easy to understand”.
After they parted on good terms, Phillip’s friend and manager Russ Lindsay asked if it would break the “lads’ code” if he was to ask Caron out. Phillip gave his blessing and Russ and Caron eventually married and had two boys, before she tragically died of cancer in 2004, aged 41.
Phil moved on with network assistant Stephanie Lowe.
They have now been married for 27 years and have daughters Molly, 27, and Ruby, 24. The family have stood by him while he came out.
Recalling what made him fall for Steph, Phillip says she was his soul mate, but cheekily adds: “If I’m honest, she had, and indeed still has, great boobs.”
While he only had eyes for one woman, Phil had his fair share of extreme fans who only had eyes for him.
One sent him a large cutting of pubic hair, which made his secretary scream when it fell into her lap.
Another booked a wedding venue for the two of them as well as a New York honeymoon, while a Chinese lady would turn up with her camera and jump out at him, no matter where he was in the country.
And it was not just the ladies, either.
Phillip recalls one man wrote to him professing undying love and asking him to send a sign on a specific date if he felt the same.
If Phil presented his show wearing yellow, it meant yes, if he wore red, it meant no.
Forgetting all about it, Phil did indeed wear yellow that day, prompting a delighted letter from his admirer. He recalls: “I was mortified.”
Although a natural on air, Phil tells in the book how during one holiday in Ireland he “kissed the Blarney stone” in a bid to get its promised “gift of the gab”.
And he reveals that broadcasting was not his first career goal.
He actually wanted to be a pilot — and still enjoys playing on a simulator.
He also recalls a death-defying incident that happened while filming a show with co-presenter Emma Forbes, 55.
A box that was supposed to burst open above them and sprinkle confetti instead sent “chains, large metal hooks and various parts of a dismantled winch” raining down on them.
“Emma and I nearly met our end,” he writes.
Phil also reveals how he battled with an eating disorder.
I was in such a state of turmoil that I had no interest in food. Steph kept trying to get me to eat, but I couldn’t face anything.
After seeing a picture of himself on holiday in the US he went on the 5:2 diet — and ended up hardly eating.
He dropped to under ten stone and “viewers started to notice”.
He adds: “I was getting tweets from people asking if I was ill.
“My appetite was much smaller and the weight was easy to maintain. Now, I couldn’t eat at all.
“I was in such a state of turmoil that I had no interest in food.
“Steph kept trying to get me to eat, but I couldn’t face anything.”
Phil also addresses his recent years on ITV’s This Morning, including his notorious fall-out with co-presenter Fern Britton, 63.
Working together from 2002 to 2009, the pair initially enjoyed amazing chemistry, on and off camera.
After their first show together they downed a bottle of Scotch in her dressing room and formed a close bond.
But their relationship was to sour irrevocably seven years later.
Phillip writes: “I honestly have no idea why it went so badly wrong.”
He speculates that the pressure Fern came under when her gastric band weight loss became public — which saw paparazzi follow her and the loss of her advertising deal with Ryvita — may have affected her state of mind.
‘FRIENDSHIP GONE SOUR’
But he insists he was a “true friend” during this time.
And he dismisses rumours that a rift was caused because of a pay imbalance, saying she had chosen a different deal with ITV.
But by the beginning of 2009 things were decidedly frosty. Phil always liked to be heavily involved in the production of This Morning, but one day in the dressing room, when he was quizzing a producer about a certain item, Fern is said to have had an outburst, accusing him of “meddling”.
Shortly afterwards she decided to leave the show.
Phillip reflects: “I was heartbroken that our friendship had inexplicably gone so sour.”
He says he has reached out to her over the years but to no avail.
He adds that she did not text him when he came out, but did text his wife.
After Fern, Phillip was paired with Holly Willoughby, 39, and they too immediately found a dynamite on-screen chemistry.
Off-screen, he says they are also best mates. But he describes her as a “dangerous friend to have” as she leads him into mischief and “outrageously drunken lunches”.
She was the one who urged him to stay out after This Morning’s win at the National Television Awards in 2016, which saw them famously stumble into the studio the next day still very much worse for wear.
The following year, when they won again, they tried to get matching tattoos, but no one would do it because of how drunk they were.
Actor James Nesbitt apparently volunteered but Phillip writes: “We couldn’t find ink or a needle . . . thankfully!”
Now, after publicly coming out, Phillip says Holly is his “daily therapist” as well as a loving friend.
Although there are rumours the pair are leaving This Morning, he insists this is not the case — at least not until after lockdown.
Tales of 40 years in showbiz
IN nearly 40 years on TV, Phillip has stories about countless celebs.
Here, we share some from his book.
By letting a teenage Phillip introduce a record on his Old Record Club Radio 1 show, Savile gave the star his first ever broadcast – as well as plenty of advice on making it in the business.
To say thank you, Phil offered to buy Savile a drink, but he declined, astonishingly saying it would be inappropriate. When Savile was later unmasked as a predatory paedophile, Schofe deleted a tweet he had sent expressing sadness over his death.
He says the times he met him, there “wasn’t one hint of who he really was”.
While a presenter on Radio 1’s Sunday afternoon show in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Phil would often receive letters from aspiring performers.
One was from a young Sarah Millican, who sent him a birthday card with a hamster on and a joke inside.
Phillip’s cutting response was to remind listeners that “you don’t have to try to be funny”. Sarah was apparently crushed, but it was still one of her first steps to becoming a comic.
Phil says he doesn’t often get starstruck, but he did when he met Princess Di at a lunch. As he started to introduce himself, she interrupted, saying: “I know who you are!”
She went on: “You and Sarah (Greene) keep me and the boys entertained every Saturday. We sit on the floor in our PJs and have breakfast. How’s the Gopher?”
Phillip reveals his ultimate idol was always Hollywood icon Katharine Hepburn – and he nearly met her.
One-time co-presenter Emma Forbes was a family friend and offered to introduce them. But in the end the actress was too ill to see him.
Instead she sent a signed photo, which Phil says is one of the few things he would grab if his house was on fire.
When her death was announced in 2003 Phil was sitting in the This Morning green room. He says: “I made sure no one saw me cry.”
Anne was Phillip’s co-host on BBC’s Test The Nation. He says: “She was fascinated by money. At the end of each show she wanted to know what I was going to buy with what I’d just earned.”
She also liked to rehearse in silence. When he tried to run through his lines she would shush him.
Phil spent several years furious with Piers after he tricked him into sending old photos and mementoes, believing they were for a newspaper article.
Instead, Piers used them to write an unauthorised biography of Schofe in 1992. The feud ran for ten years, but the pair now enjoy gossipy lunches.
After that, he says: “Let’s just see what happens, eh?
“And 2021 will mark 40 years in television for me, so I’ll stick around for the party.”
- Life’s What You Make It, by Phillip Schofield (Michael Joseph, £20), is out now.
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