Phillip Schofield and Fern Britton hosted ‘This Morning’ together for seven years from 2002 until she was replaced by Holly Willoughby. The once popular presenter departed from ITV amid a number of bitter rows that allegedly unfolded behind the scenes. This week, Fern revealed that comments about her gastric band and being “treated poorly” led her to the decision. For years it was assumed Phillip being paid three times more than her forced her hand. She denounced those rumours but refused to expose details of the encounter that made her quit on that fateful day. In recent years, the pair have lost contact and do not regularly talk, unlike Holly who has nights out and even holidays with Phillip. Unearthed accounts from Fern’s time on the show reveal how she and Phillip got on very well to begin with before their relationship seemed to sour.
To help their onscreen chemistry they spent some time in private where they talked like they were on a “date” according to a 2012 Daily Mirror article.
He said: “After my first day Fern sat me down with a bottle of Scotch and said, ‘This is a job where you’ve got to know me very well and I’ve got to know you very well so here we go, I’ll tell you everything.’
“We had a very honest booze-fuelled afternoon where we talked about everything.
“By the next day there were no secrets and we were best of mates.”
Fern recalled the encounter on Channel 4‘s ‘Justin Lee Collins Show’ in 2009: “It was like speed dating but over a bottle of scotch that took about six hours.”
She claimed that Phillip was the reason she stayed on the show for so long but the exhaustion of taking care of her daughter had taken its toll.
Fern added: “Winnie was tiny and I was taking her in and out every day, feeding her in every commercial break.”
But the star admitted her pride at what they had done over their seven years: “We got the show back together, back on its feet.”
Phillip revealed that he regretted them not keeping in touch after she left, he claimed during a 2013 Heat magazine interview.
The star said: “We were involved in the show and mates at the time, but we don’t really.
“I see Phil [Vickery, Fern’s then-husband] when he’s in ‘This Morning’… But we’re not in touch now.”
Fern felt there was “indefinable chemistry which seemed to work well” during their stint together but ultimately they were just colleagues.
She told the Daily Mail: “We ‘got’ each other. We enjoyed a laugh. And viewers seemed to warm to that.
“But, like Morecambe and Wise, we chose not to live in each other’s pockets. We were a great professional partnership but we never went on holiday together.”
During Fern’s bombshell interview that enlightened viewers as to some of the reasons behind her leaving the show – where she denounced it being about pay.
She added: “I always say to people, ‘Why would I leave a show to go to nothing if I was worried about money?’
“I began not to enjoy it so much and the morning I resigned, I didn’t know I was going to resign.
“Something happened and I thought, ‘That’s it really’ and I walked away and resigned.
“I was treated pretty poorly, actually, and after a while I just thought, ‘Sod it.’”
The star said she struggled to shake-off the “unpleasant things” written about her around the time of her departure and also the interest in her life.
Fern said: “The most difficult thing was the paparazzi, I would have three, four or five of them outside the house all of the time.”