BBC ‘eyeing up poaching Holly Willoughby’ after ITV’s Phillip Schofield scandal

Holly Willoughby is reportedly being eyed up for presenting opportunities by the BBC following the fallout from the controversy surrounding This Morning and her former co-host Phillip Schofield.

Schofield, who had presented the ITV daytime show with Willoughby, announced his departure from the series in May amid reports of a behind-the-scenes “feud” between him and Willoughby.

The presenter, 61, later announced he was quitting ITV altogether after admitting he’d had an “unwise” but “not illegal” affair with a much younger colleague on the show and lied about it to his employers at ITV, his colleagues and friends, his agents, the media and the public.

Reacting to Schofield’s statement on the affair, Willoughby, who has worked on This Morning since 2009, said: “It’s taken time to process yesterday’s news. When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not.

“It’s been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie.”

Now, The Mirror is reporting that since Willoughby hosted the celebrity challenge show Freeze the Fear on BBC One last year, bosses at the rival broadcaster have been keen to poach her.

“Ever since then they have been keen to sign her up for another project and have bent over backwards to offer her other opportunities,” a source told the publication, stating that the ongoing turmoil at ITV has “played into their hands”.

“The bosses have had conversations this week about what they could offer her going forward. And one executive reached out to her directly earlier in the week,” they added.

The source said that Willoughby “really values her relationship with the BBC and the friendships she has built up there”.

Willoughby and her husband, the producer Dan Baldwin, are friends with the BBC’s Head of Entertainment Kalpna Patel-Knight, and the source claimed they have had “multiple conversations” since working together on Freeze the Fear.

Willoughby and Schofield (Getty)
Willoughby and Schofield (Getty)

“Kalpna, Dan and Holly have been very, very tight since they worked on Freeze the Fear together. They are talking to each other regularly,” the source said.

They added: “If somehow This Morning does survive, losing Holly would be an absolute hammer blow.”

The Independent has contacted Willoughby’s representatives for comment. The BBC declined to comment when approached.

Willoughby will be back on This Morning on Monday morning (5 June) after an extended half-term break.