This Morning phone-ins ‘will be heavily vetted to prevent outbursts’ amid Phillip


ITV’s This Morning is to introduce format changes including ‘heavy vetting’ of public callers to protect presenters from outbursts over the Phil Schofield scandal, as Holly Willoughby prepares to return to the sofa tomorrow. 

Production staff will take on the important role of screening callers, as audience interaction segments are also to be paused to avoid any abuse being sent towards presenters. 

It comes as Holly prepares an ‘honest and personal statement’ to address the departure of her former co-star, who recently admitted he had lied about an affair with a younger male colleague, as she returns to the programme on Monday.

Her return to the sofa, accompanied by former guest host Josie Gibson, will mark a permanent change to the line-up as viewers face an altered show, with fewer opportunities to feel included by live presenters.

It was also reported today that Holly is being courted by BBC bosses as they look to lure her away from ITV.

As Holly Willoughby (pictured in Portugal this week) prepares to return to This Morning, producers are bringing in strict vetting standards for public callers

As Holly Willoughby (pictured in Portugal this week) prepares to return to This Morning, producers are bringing in strict vetting standards for public callers

Holly will appear alongside co-host Josie Gibson when she returns to the show this week

Holly will appear alongside co-host Josie Gibson when she returns to the show this week 

The This Morning social media accounts have been silent since Phillip Schofield admitted his affair with the former runner on the show, who he first met when visiting the man’s school when he was just 15.

Just one post has been shared since May 26, when Schofield admitted the affair and apologised for lying about it. 

The show’s attempt to keep a low profile comes after weeks of front page coverage of the breakdown of the pair’s friendship and revelations about Phil’s love life.

This cautious approach is to be echoed in episodes themselves from this week, with production staff to ‘heavily vet’ callers to filter out any attempted viewer outbursts, the Sun reports.

Viewers will also no longer be able to send in pictures and social media posts in interactive segments, with these portions of the show also set to be paused indefinitely.

ITV has been contacted for comment about the changes. 

It comes as Holly has been on holiday in Portugal this week having not appeared on This Morning for the last two weeks, but is set to return to the show after her former co-host’s departure.

Holly wants to address the scandal and explain to viewers how tough things have been for those working on the show over the last few weeks, a source told The Sun

Holly Willoughby is set to return to present This Morning on Monday, and has prepared a statement to address the Phillip Schofield scandal

Holly Willoughby is set to return to present This Morning on Monday, and has prepared a statement to address the Phillip Schofield scandal 

The presenter has been on holiday in Portugal this week following Phillip's departure from ITV

The presenter has been on holiday in Portugal this week following Phillip’s departure from ITV

The source said: ‘She will be honest and open, mentioning him by name. She’s not shying away from the tricky subject as she wants to show up for the viewers and loyal fans.

‘She has thought about what she will say and written it in advance, taking her time to get the words right. It’s not something she’s being forced to do.

‘It won’t be an easy moment for her, and she knows she could get emotional, but she thinks it’s the right thing to do and wants to speak about it in an honest way.’

The statement is said to be planned for the top of Monday’s show, when Holly appears alongside co-host Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle.

She will then present the rest of the show largely as normal, including an interview with Queen singer Adam Lambert, it has been reported.

Photos of Phillip are reported to have been removed from the ITV studios, but the move is intended to mark a change in direction rather than a snub to the former presenter.

Meanwhile the BBC is said to be interested in signing Holly for a number of new shows and an executive has contacted her in recent days, The Mirror reported. 

The corporation is said to have discussed which high-profile programmes she could present if she makes the move from ITV.

A source said: ‘The bosses have had conversations this week about what they could offer her going forward.

Holly and Phil presenting This Morning together in May before his departure from the programme

Holly and Phil presenting This Morning together in May before his departure from the programme

‘And one executive reached out to her directly earlier in the week.

‘Holly was still away on holiday at the time. But she really values her relationship with the BBC and the friendships she has built up there.’

The news comes after This Morning editor Martin Frizell sensationally suggested ex-stars of the show are ‘settling scores’ amid accusations of a ‘toxic’ work environment.

Mr Frizell – who is married to TV presenter Fiona Phillips – said to ‘read between the lines,’ adding ‘I think there are some scores being settled’ when asked if there was a toxic culture at the show.

Speaking on Saturday morning, Mr Frizell denied he was ‘concerned’ about an external review which is to be carried out into ITV after MPs and leading industry figures raised concerns around safeguarding.

He added: ‘All I want to say is I working with a fantastic team of mainly women, many mums, a lot of them concerned for their jobs although we’ve told them they don’t need to be.’

It comes as the Mail on Sunday can today expose the extent of This Morning’s toxic culture and how some staff found the atmosphere so distressing that they had to undergo therapy.

Sexism has also been cited by an ex-staffer.

This Morning’s editor Martin Frizell was the subject of an investigation in 2019 when a senior female member of staff – a single mother – raised his behaviour with ITV executives. The channel said no evidence was found following the probe.

The dossier comes after the show’s former medical expert Dr Ranj Singh revealed that he, too, had raised concerns of Mr Frizell’s behaviour with the network’s head of daytime Emma Gormley.

It was investigated and once again no wrongdoing was found. The doctor then claims he was ‘managed out’ of his role.

Dr Singh spoke out after ITV’s most senior management – chief executive Carolyn McCall, director of television Kevin Lygo, Ms Gormley and Mr Frizell – all insisted they had no idea Schofield had enjoyed a relationship with a much younger colleague. 

They also say they did not know the junior staff member was subsequently moved to another ITV show, Loose Women, where another man lost his job to make way for him. But their insistence that they were unaware of the whole scandal has prompted anger among ITV staff.

Others have had to sign non-disclosure agreements after pay-off packages were arranged, to ‘cover up’ what was described by one ex-employee as the ‘bullying and toxic blame culture.’

Feud: Holly and Phil are no longer speaking, according to Phil in his recent interview

Feud: Holly and Phil are no longer speaking, according to Phil in his recent interview 

On Tuesday, Martin Goswami, ITV’s group strategic partnerships and distribution director, will be quizzed by a cross-party Commons select committee on the poison at the heart of the channel. The next day, Dame Carolyn will be quizzed by the MPs.

Meanwhile, several former employees have shared horror stories with The Mail on Sunday.

One woman said: ‘I worked there for six years. I have felt a huge sense of relief this story has finally come out because it is about abuse of power and cover-ups.

‘I left This Morning with a financial payout and had to sign an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] to say I would not talk about the bullying and toxic blame culture that I endured there.

‘Fifteen years on, I still can’t watch the show, and even hearing the theme tune, it brings me out in a cold sweat. I won’t go into details, but my healing from years of hell – when I used to wish I would get run over by a bus on my walk from the office to the studio – starts and ends here with this simple acknowledgement that signing an NDA to cover up toxicity is not OK.’

A man in his 20s said: ‘When Phillip would say things like ‘We’re all one big happy family’, I just thought that was a load of bulls***.

‘He doesn’t know what researchers and assistant producers go through, and I had to quit. It was seriously affecting my mental health. I was belittled and unsupported.’

The man, who claims he was demoted from assistant producer to researcher, said he lasted only five months. ‘After getting a job with This Morning, I felt I had won the lottery,’ he said, ‘but within weeks I felt undermined and set up to fail at every turn. They wanted me out as my face didn’t fit, I was too quiet, not shouty or showy.

‘My producer was a bully. It knocked my confidence and ITV didn’t offer any support other than trying to suggest this was my issue to deal with. I blame the culture at ITV, of which Phil was just a part. They saw me as an outsider because I was from the North-West. There was this culture that if you weren’t part of the clique, you were persona non grata and I felt the hostility almost from the beginning.’

He described the culture at This Morning as ‘toxic, very competitive and cut-throat’ and claimed that Schofield ‘ignored’ junior staff, adding: ‘It’s a top-down organisation… and if you’re nearer the bottom, you don’t mean anything, you’re just disposable.’

Another former member of staff who left in 2019 told bosses in her exit report that ‘there is a culture of intimidation at This Morning’ adding that she witnessed a number of incidents where she felt one of the bosses was unreasonable and unkind to a female producer and it created a climate of fear.’ She added: ‘I also overheard what I found to be sexist comments.’

It comes after Schofield spoke out for the first time in an interview with the BBC this week, in which he appeared to accept that his television career was over.



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