The editor of ITV’s This Morning suggested there were “scores being settled” by some former stars after claims of a toxic culture on the popular daytime show which has been rocked by the departure of Phillip Schofield.
Martin Frizell said staff needed a “respite” from the constant headlines sparked by the former presenter’s admission of an affair with a junior male member of staff.
Asked by reporters about the culture on the show, he said: “I think you’ve got to read between the lines. There are some scores being settled.”
Schofield’s admission prompted his co-presenter Holly Willoughby to accuse him of lying to her about the affair, while former This Morning resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh said the show is “toxic”, adding he raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was “managed out” for whistleblowing.
Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes has claimed there was a “total cover-up” at ITV over the affair and said Willoughby should follow Schofield “out the door”.
Mr Frizell spoke out a day after Emily Maddick, who worked as This Morning’s head of news from September to December 2019, claimed she quit the programme due to “bullying, sexism and a toxic culture of fear and intimidation”.
Writing for Glamour magazine, where she now works, Ms Maddick shared extracts from her 2019 exit interview requested from ITV’s HR department after handing in her resignation, which stated there was a “culture of intimidation at This Morning”.
In the piece, she also wrote: “Did I experience a toxic atmosphere? Yes. Sexism? Yes. Bullying? Yes. Homophobia? Yes.”
ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall will give evidence to a parliamentary committee on June 14 about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following his exit.
The broadcaster has also instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts.
Frizell said: “There’s lots of questions to answer but there’s a KC appointed for an external review and anything we may say now could be prejudicial, so I’d rather not.
“There will be lots of time once it’s all over to go through who did what, when, why, but I’d rather not just now thanks.”
Talking about the effect on his remaining staff, Mr Frizell said: “This is the 23rd day now of being on the front page and it’s tiring. They worked all through covid brilliantly, they worked all through this putting a programme out [...] and I just think they need a bit of respite now.”
He said many members of staff were “concerned for their jobs although we’ve told them they don’t need to be.”
Schofield, 61, has said he “lost everything” after admitting to the affair and said the fallout had had a “catastrophic effect” on his mind.
He resigned from ITV last week and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to the “unwise but not illegal” relationship.
In his first interviews since leaving the broadcaster and This Morning, he said he was “utterly broken and ashamed” but denied he had “groomed” the man.
Speaking to the BBC’s Amol Rajan, he said the first time he had any “kind of sexual contact” with his former This Morning colleague, the younger man was 20, though he had first met him when he was 15.
He said he had followed the man on Twitter, and had talked to him about jobs and careers, but there had never been “any whiff of impropriety”.