Holly Willoughby’s ‘final ultimatum’ to bosses in days before Phil …
This Morning will never be the same again as stalwart presenter Phillip Schofield has stepped down - and people are saying that co-host Holly Willoughby has " won the war " with the star.
The pair fronted the ITV daytime show together for over 13 years, but the relationship between the duo has been reportedly strained in recent months after a series of issues.
Their names were dragged through the muck over ' queuegate ' and they were then viciously trolled online, and it appears their relationship never recovered.
Phil then took some time away from This Morning while his brother was on trial for sex crimes, and rumours swirled when Holly was absent as Phil finally returned to screens.
Recently, it was reported that Holly cut ties with Phil.Piers Morgan says Phil Schofield 'deserves better' and blasts 'savages' calling shots ( ITV)
Holly and Phil have been on first-name terms for over a decade but recently it was reported that the pair were " barely" speaking off camera and away from their roles on the programme.
And it is claimed that Holly finally gave an 'ultimatum' to ITV bosses, who chose to support the 42-year-old.
A source told Daily Mail : "It was basically an ultimatum, Holly won the war. We say what Holly wants, Holly gets, and never was a truer word spoken."
But later, an ITV source confirmed to the Mirror that Phil decided to leave of his own accord - and that talent have no input in editorial decisions.
Announcing his departure on Instagram, Phil wrote: "I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story.( Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock) ( Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
"Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind.
"I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can't go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love.
"So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future.
"I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me – especially This Morning's amazing viewers – and I'll see you all for the Soap Awards next month."
Despite his co-star being missing from his departure message, Holly took to her Instagram Stories to pay a sweet tribute on Saturday evening.
She wrote: "It's been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The sofa won't feel the same without him."
While Willoughby appeared to make a gushy farewell to Phil, it was reported that she ' cut ties ' with her old pal amid reports suggesting all was not well between the presenters.
One report claimed the once inseparable duo are now officially no longer friends after Holly showed Phil the door on their friendship.( Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
It is understood she felt 'blindsided' after Phil spoke out and confirmed there was friction between the pair.
The Mail on Sunday source claimed: "Don't be surprised if you never see them together again, apart from on camera.
"This has all been so heartbreaking for Holly, but she knows she has to stand on her own two feet and cut the strings.
"Nobody ever thought it would end like this. They were part of one another's families and they spent a lot of their weekends socialising. She has tried so hard."
The source also accurately predicted that Holly would be absent from today's show, but said the real reason was that she was "too upset" to face the public.
Her supposed distancing comes a year after Holly decided to split from her former management company YMU, which still represents Phil, and set up her own, named Roxy Management, instead.
Meanwhile, just weeks before Phil's This Morning exit, eagle-eyed fans spotted more clues pointing to Holly and Phil's friendship seemingly cooling, as she had wiped his name from her social media accounts.
Twitter users noticed that Holly had removed Phil from her bio, where she previously had written: "I was introduced to this by a Twitter legend," before tagging her presenting partner.( Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
Her Twitter bio now reads: "Broadcaster, Founder of Wyldemoon, Brand ambassador for Marks & Spencer and Garnier, Author of Reflections."
It is not known when the change was made, but fans have been taking to social media themselves to note the big news.
One sleuth wrote: "Didn't Holly's Twitter bio say something about being introduced to Twitter by 'a legend' (ie Phil), now it's not there…"
A second user added: "Loads of reports that they've both fallen out and don't talk anymore. Holly's also removed the mention of Phil."
News that Phil would be leaving the hit show was confirmed by ITV in a statement released at 3pm on Saturday, May 20.
Holly will remain in the role but now the mum-of-three is taking a break over the school holidays - so Alison Hammond and Dermot O'Leary are stepping in for now.
Despite Phil's long tenure on the show, Alison and Dermot began the show on Monday with just a brief mention of Phillip's exit - and fans weren't happy about it.
Kicking off the show, Alison said: "Now we can't start today's show without paying tribute to the man who has spent the last two decades sitting on this sofa – Phillip Schofield."( ITV)
"Everyone on and off the screen at ITV and This Morning want to say a huge thank you to Phil for what he's done to make this show a success over the last 21 years."
Then Dermot continued before Alison added: "Quite simply we all know he's one of the best live television broadcasters this country has ever had and we, and all the team, wish him all the best for the future."
Explaining Holly's absence, Dermot said: "Holly is taking a break over half term, she'll be back in the studio in two weeks."
But soon reactions came flooding in on social media, as This Morning viewers were left confused by the tribute.
One wrote: "That was an awful goodbye segment #thismorning."
Then another added: "So after 20 years all Scofe gets is a two minute tribute at the beginning not at all awkward #ThisMorning."( ITV)
It has been suggested that Alison Hammond could replace Phil to be Holly's new co-host to form a new female-fronted presenting line-up.
Holly and Alison already hosted This Morning together last month while Phil was taking time away from the show.
While Alison was being tipped to replace Phil back in February as show insiders revealed bosses were mulling over the idea of shaking up the presenting lineup.
A source told the Mirror at the time: " ITV bosses are clear they want Holly to return to This Morning next year. But while a question mark hangs over her future, there have been conversations about who could step in if she decided to go.
"Top of that list is Alison. She has gone from being seen as a safe pair of hands to a real asset to the channel.
"And while her partnership with Dermot is seen as solid, there have also been conversations about other pairings – such as with Josie Gibson, who she was recently filming with in the French Alps.
"If Holly were to leave, it is unlikely she would be replaced by one person – as when Piers Morgan left Good Morning Britain, there would be a series of combinations trialled. Other names mentioned have been Kate Garraway, and even Ed Balls, after his success on GMB."
The Mirror has contacted representatives of Holly, Phil and This Morning for comment.
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