When Phillip Schofield poured his heart out on national TV, telling the world he was gay despite being married with two children, it looked like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
Presenter Phil, 57, was no stranger to rumours about his sexuality even before he tied the knot – confessing that, deep down, he knew the truth before marrying Steph. ‘I am not saying I didn’t know,’
Phil admitted: ‘Whatever was “there”, I thought, “OK, whatever this is, you stay back because I am happy”. If you ask anyone who is gay, they know – there is no confusion.’
But rewind to 1992 and Piers Morgan, author of Phillip’s unofficial biography To Dream A Dream: The Amazing Life of Phillip Schofield, was aware of people questioning Phil’s sexual orientation.
Piers wrote, ‘The rumours, which tend to haunt any unmarried TV personality who prefers not to show off his girlfriends in public, have dogged Phil on and off for years.’
But it’s clear his early relationships with women kept the rumours at bay.
‘For the truth is that Phil has hardly ever been without a girlfriend, making him one of the most eligible bachelors in Britain,’ Piers added. And, at the time Phil agreed, ‘I’ve been out with a lot of women.’ But, perhaps tellingly, also admitted he was ‘fairly guarded’ when it comes to relationships.
Quashing the rumours
Just a year before he wed, Phillip hit back at claims he was gay – and even Piers was convinced the rumours couldn’t be further from the truth.
Piers wrote, ‘One of the most laughable accusations in show business is that Phillip Schofield might be gay.’ And Phillip explained, ‘Because I have always guarded my private life very closely, these sort of rumours are bound to fly around. But I’ve got one thing to say to anyone who says things like that – b******s!’
And when Phillip’s news broke, Good Morning Britain host Piers, who usually leaves no stone unturned when interviewing, admitted, ‘I’ve known him a long time, I’ve written a book about him… I missed the story, actually!’ He added, ‘We were joking about it [missing the story in the book] the other day.’
Living a lie?
So, with Phillip admitting that he knew he was gay when he married wife Stephanie, it begs the question, why go through with the wedding in the first place?
Well, it seems workaholic Phil dreamed of the day he could announce he was getting married after he struggled to make some of his relationships last due to his hectic work schedule. In the late 80s and early 90s, as presenter of Saturday morning kids’ TV show Going Live! and star of West End musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, his schedule left little time for a relationship.
‘It will take a very determined woman to break down my shields,’ he once confessed. ‘I’ve been dumped a few times because the girl said she never saw me and when she did I was never very emotional. That’s true – I do work seven days a week. But I am quite looking forward to the day when I can walk into my management office and tell them to tear up my diary because I’m getting married.’
Following the crowd
Phil met Stephanie when he was working on BBC children’s television, where she worked as production assistant, and after just eight months of dating, Phil admitted he felt marriage was on the cards. Speaking at the time, he said: ‘I am considering marriage, obviously. I am 30 years old, financially secure – and I’d love to have children.’
He continued: ‘About 90 per cent of my friends are either married or getting married and I have no desire to be left on the shelf. I’ve got a big house with plenty of room for a wife and a wee Schofield.’
The pair tied the knot at Ackergill Tower – a Scottish castle – on 29 March 1993 and went on to have two children – daughters Molly, now 27 and Ruby, 24.
And Phil’s adoration for his wife still stands. ‘I can’t write in any statement what I feel about that woman,’ he said after coming out. ‘She is amazing, incredible. There is no one in my life who would have supported me as a wife the way she has supported me. She’s astonishing.’
You can’t hurry love
As Phillip returned to work to host Dancing on Ice and This Morning alongside co-star and friend Holly Willoughby, his wedding ring was still firmly in its usual place. And sources say wife Steph isn’t in any rush to file for divorce.
‘She isn’t the type to be spiteful by dragging him into court,’ revealed the insider. ‘She’s saying she’ll stick with him until he’s settled and happy in a new relationship, and then they’ll talk about an amicable split deal.’
And Phil is more than happy to take his future slowly. He told Holly during his ‘coming out’ segment that he is taking ‘each day at a time’ and added, ‘This has always been a slow process and there is no fast process after this… There’s no one, I’m not rushing out to anybody.’