As This Morning celebrates its 25th anniversary, hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby exclusively tell TV Times magazine what’s in store, the secret to the show’s longevity and why they’re a dream team…
So, Phil and Holly, what’s in store on screen to mark the show’s birthday?
Phil: “The big thing is that this Thursday we’re going back to Liverpool to host the show there for just one day. When the show started 25 years ago, I was watching it as a TV geek thinking: ‘This is amazing, two hours of live telly’. You can’t imagine that 25 years later you’d actually be hosting it in the same place. Our second big event is bringing back the floating weather map – with Keith Lemon.”
Holly: “He’s going to be jumping around the docks – and hopefully falling in. I’m going to speak to somebody to see if I can rig that…”
Phil: “If Keith doesn’t go in, we won’t have our jobs properly! Richard and Judy are also coming back for the day, which is lovely. They’ll be guest starring more than working with us. I’m not going to let them present the damn thing! [laughing] They’re not getting back in that seat again – I’ll defend that!”
Phil watched the very first show, but how about you, Holly, you must have been seven at the time…
Holly: “No I didn’t, but I remember watching it when I was 15. My GCSEs had just finished and we were going to this underage ball so all my friends and I went round at one girl’s house as we’d decided to take the whole day to get ready right until we had to leave at 7pm. One of my fondest memories is being there with the girls, doing our nails, all watching This Morning.”
For any show to reach its 25th year is a major achievement. What do you think is the secret to its success?
Holly: “Reinvention. It’s never been afraid to move with the times or have a complete overhaul, you know changing the set or even the tone of the show sometimes. But it always keeps its key elements and it’s always the viewers’ show.”
Phil: “It’s an entirely different show from the one when I joined. It has a much faster pace now because that’s the way television has gone.”
Do you remember how you felt when bosses first gave you the job?
Holly: “I do. I was terrified because I loved the show so much as a viewer. Fern and Phil had this amazing chemistry on screen and I loved watching them so I was like: ‘Don’t you go in and mess it all up now.’”
Phil: I love doing live television and a lot of the stuff I was doing at the time was pre-recorded. So when they asked would I like to do Fridays and I said, ‘Yes’ and it went from there. I was thrilled, but you’ve got to be careful not to become a dinner party bore because whoever anyone talks about, the chances are you have or will meet them. My little nephews have a standing joke: ‘Have you meet…?’ When I say ‘No’, it’s a real moment! From a presenters’ point of view, that’s the great thing about the show, whatever’s happening in the world and showbiz is all reflected.
Any stand-out moments so far?
Holly: “Jackie Collins came on to talk about her book and for some reason we had an old-fashioned teasmaid. Maybe it was a hot and steamy novel and somehow we thought that was hot and steamy – goodness knows how the brain works on This Morning! Anyway, suddenly it just went off and it was very hot and steamy, but not in a good way!”
Phil: “Agony aunt Denise Robertson has been with the show from the very start and really is the matriarch of the whole thing. Holly was quite nervous when she joined, ‘Is Denise going to accept me?’ But there was one particular interview where Denise jumped in to defend a very important point that Holly had made, and I thought, ‘She’s in’. Get approval from Denise, everything is going to be fine.”
Holly: “I was like “YES!” Dr Chris Steele has also been here since the beginning.”
Phil: “Denise and Chris are like the ravens at Tower of London, if they weren’t there, god knows what would happen to the world!”
So do you think we could be sat here in five years’ time talking about This Morning’s 30th Birthday?
Holly: “That would be nice, wouldn’t it? I hope so.”
Phil: “As it stands, you can never tell. The show might fall out of love with us, television is a funny old game. We read all the time: ‘Philip and Holly in bust up!’ But we’ve never had a single cross word. And there are stories about one of us leaving. It’s all nonsense. At the moment, we’re looking forward to the start of a brand new series with no end on the horizon.”