ITV will turn to a long-serving, steady pro to replace Phillip Schofield on This Morning, according to bookies.
The entire channel is in chaos after Schofield was axed from all his work commitments last night for lying about an affair with a younger male colleague.
Speculation over Phillip Schofield’s successor is fierceCredit: Rex
Ben Shephard is the bookies’ favouriteCredit: Rex
There have been calls for This Morning, which Schofield presented for 21 years, to be axed after the news came to light.
It will take someone with broad shoulders and plenty of experience to partner Holly Willoughby in these testing times.
And bookmaker Coral believes that person will be Good Morning Britain star Ben Shephard, who is favourite with odds of 4-5 to take the gig.
Coral’s John Hill said: “Ben Shephard is no stranger to morning television, as he has been one of the faces of Good Morning Britain for the last nine years.
“If our odds are correct, he may be set to get a few more hours in bed in the morning, as we make him the new frontrunner to replace Philip Schofield on the 10am show on ITV.”
Dermot O’Leary is another frontrunner at 2-1, while This Morning co-stars Alison Hammond and Rylan Clark are 3-1, respectively, and Rochelle Humes is a 5-1 shot.
Husband and wife presenting duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are outsiders for a sensational return to the programme they hosted in the 90s at 12-1 and 16-1, respectively.
Last night ITV broke its silence on Phillip’s affair with a “much younger” This Morning worker – blasting the star for his “deceit”.
Schofield, 61 – who was axed by This Morning just last week – has now quit ITV after the affair with the male ITV employee was exposed.
An ITV spokesperson said: “We are deeply disappointed by the admissions of deceit made tonight by Phillip Schofield.
“The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust. Philip made assurances to us which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.
“We accept his resignation from ITV and therefore can confirm that he will not be appearing on ITV as had previously been stated.”
It’s understood the younger man, who was a teen when he met Schofield, is not a public figure and did not want the relationship to be revealed.
In a statement, Schofield said he’s “deeply sorry” for the affair which he said was “unwise, but not illegal”.
He said: “I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague.
“Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than just a friendship.
“That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over. When I chose to come out I did so entirely for my own wellbeing. Nobody ‘forced’ me out.
“Neither I nor anyone else, to my knowledge, has ever issued an injunction, super or otherwise, about my relationship with this colleague, he was never moved on or sacked by or because of me.
“In an effort to protect my ex-colleague I haven’t been truthful about the relationship.
“But my recent, unrelated, departure from This Morning fuelled speculation and raised questions which have been impacting him, so for his sake it is important for me to be honest now.
“I am painfully conscious that I have lied to my employers at ITV, to my colleagues and friends, to my agents, to the media and therefore the public and most importantly of all to my family.
“I am so very, very sorry, as I am for having been unfaithful to my wife.
“I have therefore decided to step down from the British Soap Awards, my last public commitment, and am resigning from ITV with immediate effect expressing my immense gratitude to them for all the amazing opportunities that they have given me.
“I will reflect on my very bad judgement in both participating in the relationship and then lying about it.
“To protect his privacy, I am not naming this individual and my deepest wish is that both he and his family can now move on with their lives free from further intrusion, and that this statement will enable them to do so.
“I ask the media now to respect their privacy. They have done nothing wrong, and I ask that their privacy should be respected.”
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Schofield has been been dropped by his agent YMU, which said in a statement: “Honesty and integrity are core values for YMU’s whole business, defining everything we do.
“Talent management is a relationship based entirely on trust.
“This week, we have learned important new information about our client Phillip Schofield.”
Schofield said: “It is with the most profound regret that after 35 years of being faultlessly managed by YMU I have agreed to step down from their representation with immediate effect.”
Phillip Schofield was still married to his wife Stephanie Lowe – who he married in 1993 – at the time of the affair.
Schofield opened up about being gay in 2020, but remained married to wife Stephanie.
Schofield was only just axed from This Morning last week — unable to bid farewell to his fans.
His exit was confirmed after weeks of intense speculation about his future and a feud with co-host Holly Willoughby, 42 — and as an insider revealed the row was even putting off guests from appearing with them.
ITV has slammed Phillip Schofield’s ‘deceit’ after he had an affair with a much younger This Morning workerCredit: Rex