Connect with us


Opinion: Has Schofield’s ‘mea culpa’ interview made things better or worse?



Philip Schofield has spent 41 years in front of television cameras, but this was a very different form of overexposure.

Distraught and exhausted, his voice little more than a strained, timid croak, the disgraced former This Morning host told the BBC’s Amol Rajan of the “catastrophic effect” that the “avalanche” of newspaper stories and social media speculation about his relationship with a younger male colleague has had on his mental state in a televised interview.

“Do you … do you want me to die?”, he said sitting in a plush but drab living room that felt light years from the brightly lit ITV settee he and Holly Willoughby sat on for 14 years, his eyes looking straight to camera.

“Because that’s where I am. I have lost everything. My girls saved my life. They said last week they haven’t left me for a moment. They’ve been by my side every moment because they’re scared to let me out of their sight.


“And they said to me: don’t you dare do this on our watch, we’re supposed to be looking after you — and if my girls hadn’t been there I wouldn’t be here. Because I don’t see a future. And so how much do you want a man to take? And are you truly only happy when he’s dead? And this is how Caroline Flack felt. And it didn’t stop. And it didn’t stop.”

So here we are: a desperate, destroyed man appealing to the millions of viewers who have raised him to the summit of British daytime television to push their noses through the looking glass of the TV cameras and see a person.

He wanted us to feel the weight of what he is feeling. He does not want to be treated as breaking news. Schofield has always had a knack for making us feel the humanity of a news story. But now that he has become the story, he has never looked so cowed.

To invoke the name of suicide victim Caroline Flack is perhaps the only way Schofield felt it was possible to translate the brutal experience of the past week. A yawning chasm exists between the moral standards we hold figures in the public eye to and the duty of care that we extend to them.

Nevertheless, we must restate why we are here: Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV altogether after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male employee. They first met during a school visit when the man in question was 15. They stayed in touch. Years later, Schofield secured him a job on his television show. Schofield says he was 20 when the relationship became sexual.

Or, as Rajan put the allegations: Schofield met someone who was a child; he was in a position of power over them; he used his power eventually to give them something they craved, a shot at a job in the media; he nurtured a relationship which then that relationship became sexual. Schofield strongly rejects allegations of grooming.

It was “a totally innocent picture”, he says, a friendship that began with “a totally innocent Twitter follow”, “a completely innocent backwards and forwards over a period of time about a job, about careers”.


Schofield said the relationship was a “grave error” and he would “regret it forever” but suggested that homophobia was a factor in people who disapproved of their relationship, adding: “If it was male-female then it wouldn’t be such a scandal.”

That is not true. It is not just inappropriate, but wrong for a man in his forties in power to have a text conversation with a 15-year-old he doesn’t know – male or female – which then, even years later, lead to a relationship. There remains a vested public interest in stories that speak to gross imbalances of power in the workplace.

That Schofield needs help is obvious. That he should not have done this interview must be too. Perhaps such affairs should be left to the appropriate investigators — to ITV, who Schofield admits he repeatedly lied to in order to safeguard the secrecy of his relationship; to the government’s Culture, Media and Sport committee, who have summoned ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Schofield’s departure from This Morning.

What does he want from us? Absolution? What do we want from Schofield? An eternity of contrition? His career, as he acknowledges, is over. He has lost everything. The brutality of that grips the rolling news as such matters always do. We have never heard him speak like this before. Let us hope that someone is listening.

Source: Independent


Follow us on Google News to get the latest Updates