Phillip Schofield

Phillip Schofield: the BBC Interview, the Vape and The Affair

Phillip Schofield’s recent affair and subsequent interview have highlighted the problematic power dynamics often in the media industry. Despite his denial of the relationship being anything but sexual, with his much younger partner allegedly not progressing in his career because of it, the relationship nevertheless shines a light on what happens behind the scenes in large corporations.

Other allegations of the culture of This Morning have followed, which Schofield adamantly denies, and the resulting social media backlash clearly showed the public’s view of such an affair. 

‘Trying to come to terms with who [he] was and what [he] was going to do about it’. That was Schofield’s reasoning for the affair in the 40-minute BBC interview he gave, claiming that his difficulty coming to terms with his sexuality was the reasoning for the relationship. He emphasises that the young man involved was over the age of 18 when they started to have a sexual relationship, despite meeting when he was a younger fan.

Phillip Schofield claims that their friendship was due to him being a popular member among the This Morning team and him being friends with all the crew on the show, saying that they were ‘mates’. While it may have started out as an innocent friendship, the following relationship was certainly not. It is difficult to imagine that the other party in this sexual relationship would have been able to get promoted and get as far as they did, without Schofield’s personal interest in them. 

From the offset of the interview, it is clear how worn and tired he looks, and throughout, he clearly states that his mental health is suffering from the media backlash to the affair. The discourse on social media around the affair was certainly not kind to Phillip Schofield and clearly led to immense pressure.

This pressure should not be used as a reason to take the backlash for mindless gossip – there is a clear fault, in both Schofield’s actions and ITV’s workplace dynamic.

Schofield insists that there was no sexual attraction until one instance in his dressing room when the boy involved was 20 and that they were never in a relationship but engaged in sexual acts 4 or 5 times. He argued that while he had aided the young man in getting a job on This Morning, the boy himself had gone on to work there permanently and was well-liked, gaining the role on his own merits. In defence of fellow This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby he confirmed that she knew nothing of the affair. 

Phillip Schofield
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 15: Phillip Schofield attends the ITV Palooza 2022 on November 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby)

In another interview with The Sun, Schofield uses a vape, similar to the vape in his hand when talking to the BBC. These images from the interviews circulate around social media in memes, and multiple tabloids report his vape usage increasing due to stress. Memes such as this one do take the focus away from the affair itself, even if they seek to criticise Schofield simultaneously.

Schofield repeatedly highlights that the criticism directed at him is due to the relationship being between two men. In the interview with The Sun, he mentions Leonardo Di Caprio, suggesting that his wide age gap with partners is acceptable while his relationship was not. Di Caprio has often been criticised on social media for his own relationships, and in many ways, the affairs are not comparable.

Schofield’s affair was in the workplace and with a younger man he knew from a much younger age. These facts make it indisputably problematic. It should be noted that while particular critiques employ offensive language with homophobic undertones and insinuate that the problem stems from the relationship being homosexual, that does not mean that all criticism is futile. 

This Morning has faced recent criticism about its workplace environment, from frequent guest Dr Ranj Singh. These criticisms were disputed by Schofield. Coupled with the affair, it signals a deeper problem within the media industry, which other affairs also suggest.

The seemingly constant stream of high-profile affairs over the past year signal the broader issue of how others are interacted with by celebrity figures, but also in the environments that perpetuate them. In a way, it suggests that these affairs are somewhat normal within the media, and in the case of Phillip Schofield and Fulmer, seen only as problematic due to where they happened.

If the power dynamic is not recognised within them, it leads to the issue at the core not being recognised – that of subordinates or younger people being taken advantage of. 

Phillip Schofield´s affair and other media scandals

Perhaps, it is easier to compare Schofield’s affair to other large media scandals that have happened in the past year. Ned Fulmer’s hugely publicised workplace affair brought into question the issues with power dynamics in media and highlighted Fulmer’s use of his family to create his own brand image. More recently, YouTuber, Colleen Ballinger’s treatment of her younger fans went viral, and her response in song form to a ukulele was highly criticised as inappropriate and attempting to minimise her actions. 

These affairs highlight the issues within the media as a whole and the power dynamics within relationships in that industry. Phillip Schofield is another one of these affairs, and it is especially remarkable that it is from within a large media corporation, ITV, while the other examples concern YouTube.

Phillip Schofield has spoken out in interviews against there being a power dynamic, as he claims his young sexual partner did not gain anything from the relationship. Even if his partner did not gain anything from the relationship, it being with an older and high-profile member of This Morning makes it challenging to separate from the hierarchy already in place.

Of course, the fact that these are high-profile figures means their affairs are brought to light in the public sphere and criticised in a public manner. I do not seek to argue that there are more affairs in the media industry or that the power dynamics are worse than in other industries.

However, the publicity given to these scandals and the way that they are dealt with by the actors within them signal to the broader public that affairs in the workplace and inappropriate contact with younger people are acceptable. By criticising these scandals, the very practise of workplace toxicity and how younger people or subordinates in the workplace are treated is also criticised and seen negatively. Through this, similar issues can be brought to light, hopefully leading to a better environment for all.