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Holly and Phil's adorable history – 'fear' to confidantes and secret she kept


As far as TV pairings go, Dancing on Ice hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby give Ant and Dec a run for their money in terms of being inseparable.

It was on the skating show that the This Morning duo first met back in 2006, and from that moment on they forged a beautiful friendship that has seen them through marriage, babies and perhaps the most earth-shattering moment of Phil’s life.

When Phil came out as gay on This Morning in February last year, it was his co-host and best friend Holly who held his hand as poured his heart out to the nation.

Wrapping a comforting arm around the man who convinced show bosses to hire her back in 2009, Holly held Phil tight as he sobbed in moving scenes.



Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield first met hosting Dancing On Ice in 2006
Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield first met hosting Dancing On Ice in 2006

For half a decade Phil has been secretly tormented by the realisation that he is gay. Having been married to wife Steph for 27 years, his turmoil was caused by his desperate desire not to hurt either her or their two daughters Molly, 27, and Ruby, 24.

It was Steph who he confided in from the beginning, but outside of their home, Phil’s secret remained just that with not even his closest friends aware of what was going on behind the scenes.

But many of Phil’s closest friends and colleagues knew something was wrong and were deeply concerned about his health.

They had noticed the drastic weight loss and the preoccupied state of the usually buoyant star.



Phillip Schofield hugs wife Stephanie on the red carpet
Phil’s wife Stephanie selflessly supported him through his turmoil

And no-one more so than Holly, who gently tried to encourage Phil to share whatever was on his mind.

“Holly knew something was wrong. A number of times she took me to one side and asked if I was okay,” Phil wrote in his autobiography, Life’s What You Make It.

“She never pushed, she was always so gentle and caring, but I could tell she was worried about me. ‘Please talk to me,’ she said. ‘Because I am always here.'”

Eventually – when he felt strong enough – Phil realised he needed to share the burden of his fears and there was no-one he wanted to share with more than Holly.

“One day I knew I had to tell her, because I needed her. I needed her advice and her wisdom and I needed her to have my back at work if I faltered,” he wrote.



Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield embrace on This Morning
Holly was one of the first people Phil turned to for help outside of his family

He decided the best way to do it was to invite her to his dressing room, where he laid bare the torment of the last few years – and her reaction floored him.

“I told her everything. I knew she would be incredible, she was so much more than that,” he continued.

From that point on, Holly became his confidante, subtly helping him ‘hold everything together’ at work.

They’re fiercely protective of one and other, and Phil has even been known to go to war on Twitter on Holly’s behalf.

Their friendship was first born back in the mid-noughties when up-and-comer Holly joined established TV presenter Phil on ITV’s Dancing On Ice in 2006.

Holly, 39, said she was initially ‘scared’ about working with such a big name but quickly realised they were cut from the same cloth.

“I love that man. I’d obviously watched him on the telly lots, he was in the Broom Cupboard , he was my children’s TV presenter that I used to watch,” she once told the Jonathan Ross Show.



Holly joined Phil on This Morning in 2009
Holly joined Phil on This Morning in 2009

“I was a bit scared when I first met him but that changed very quickly when I realised he was basically me in the male form.”

For Phil’s part, he’s said to have been so impressed by Holly that he convinced bosses to hire her as Fern Britton’s replacement on This Morning in 2009.

She spent her first ever show nervously clinging onto Phil’s arm, but with their bloopers and near-constant giggling, the pair quickly became an award-winning combination.

Off screen, their friendship flourished with the couple and their families holidaying to Portugal together almost every year.

Their partners Stephanie and Dan Baldwin became friends too while Phil’s daughters Ruby and Molly doted on Holly’s younger kids, Harry, Belle and Chester.

As an exhausted, working mum Holly found comfort in colleague Phil who had been through it with his own little ones.



Holly, Phil and their families even holiday together
Holly, Phil and their families even holiday together

“We spend quite a lot of time together and quite often I’d come in in the morning and I wouldn’t have slept properly because of the kids or something and he’s my first port of call to talk to, really,” she previously told the Radio Times.

And for Phil, Holly quickly became his confidante, with the pair developing a level of trust that’s rare in the entertainment business.

“Holly is incredibly sympathetic,” Phil said in the same sit-down chat, revealing that she’s the holder of his most protected secrets.

He continued: “She’s the best person to tell secrets to. She’s got a brilliant ability to see sense through mess. She’s also more diplomatic than I am.

“If we disagree on something, which is rare, we very quickly see the other person’s point of view. And we don’t have egos between the pair of us – there’s none of that nonsense.”

The pair were forced to defend their friendship after rumours of a civil war at ITV between Phil and his since departed co-host Ruth Langsford.

“We ring each other and talk to each other all the time anyway, about this and other things,” Holly told Closer magazine, insisting there was no way they could ‘fake’ their close bond.

She continued: “We know what we’re like. It would be impossible for us to fake the giggles. I’m on the telly for two and a half hours – let me tell you, I’m not that good an actress.

“If I was, I’d be doing something else.”

*Dancing On Ice continues tonight at 7pm on ITV

What do you think of Holly and Phil’s friendship? Share your thoughts in the comments section below…





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