Holly ‘lines up new This Morning co-star’ with Phil ‘unlikely to return’

Louise Van der Vel boycotts This Morning due to Phillip Schofield

Holly Willoughby is reportedly lining up close pal Alison Hamond as her new co-presenter for This Morning – amid claims Phillip Schofield is “unlikely” to return to the hit ITV show after the summer. 

Reports say that viewing figures for the weekday morning show have plunged as tension between the pair of one-time best buddies has soured their partnership.  And with ITV bosses fretting over the meltdown in viewing figures that saw the programme the least-watched show of the ITV daytime schedule last Wednesday, speculation is rife that Schofield will not be offered a new contract when his current one runs out this summer.

Sources reportedly claim Willoughby, 42, “loved” being joined by Hammond on the This Morning sofa when they paired up for two days recently after Schofield, 61, took himself out of the limelight while his brother was tried at Exeter Crown Court on child-sex offences.  The report says that ITV bosses also enjoyed the chemistry between the pair.

It quotes “someone who knows Holly well” as saying: “Her beautiful, blonde, softly-spoken exterior is very disarming. Underestimate her at your peril. Holly wants This Morning to be the Holly and Alison show and usually what Holly wants, Holly gets.”

According to the Daily Star, insiders reckon that the days of Schofield’s reign on the ITV juggernaut, which he has commanded since 2002, could be numbered.

It quotes a source as saying: “This Morning is preparing for some seismic changes this summer — and Phil is lined up as the first major name for the chop when his contract expires this summer.

“It’s highly unlikely he’ll be back in September. Plans are being drawn up for a new look This Morning and at the moment Phil is not featuring in them.

“He has worked on the show for over two decades. Many feel it is time for some fresh blood.”

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The Mail says that Willoughby’s TV producer husband Dan Baldwin has been urging her to break her links with Schofield as mistrust has grown between the two camps.  They say that allies of the couple claim that Willoughby was distraught over the ‘Queengate’ affair that saw the pair accused of jumping the queue at the late Queen’s lying-in-state last September.

They also claim that Willoughby was given no advanced notice of Schofield’s brother trial, although allies of Schofield say he did and she is now trying to “stitch Phil up”.  

The Star source added: “This isn’t the first time Holly and Phil’s working relationship has hit a rough patch, but this time it feels more serious than ever.

“Their silence off-camera is a clear indication that their partnership is on the rocks. The response from This Morning viewers has been a wake-up call.

“While Holly remains incredibly popular, the same can’t be said for Phil.”

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