When someone told me the breaking news I must confess I wasn’t too surprised. Phillip Schofield turning out to be gay can hardly have been responsible for many dropped coffee cups this morning, let alone jaws; indeed, it is almost the opposite of news but in this strange little world we live it has become the most interesting thing to have happened all week (even more than that daft Scottish politician trying to get into a 16 year old boy’s underpants). Little Pip, as he is known to some in the panto world, has had years to build up his reputation for being thoroughly harmless. To some people who don’t work for a living and have very low viewing standards he is a shining beacon of mid-morning TV. He’s a cheeky little squirrel who finds a thrill in the mundanity of everyday low-level celebrity life and those quirky types who want to tell their story to a slightly wider audience than the readership of TV Quick magazine and Closer. He’s a staple, an institution and, I expect, getting close to being a national bloody treasure.
That sounds mean and I don’t mean to be mean. He’s done nothing to hurt me and by the look and sounds of it he looks and sounds like a perfectly nice chap. I remember that he used to light up my Saturday mornings with Gordon the Gopher, though having written that I am subsequently reminded of the story of how The Pet Shop Boys got their name. I am also very happy for him: he seems emotional and relieved and warm and he clearly feels that sharing his news is the best thing to do. I genuinely hope he’s happy and that he finds an inner peace that has eluded him for so long.
That said there are a few tiny complications to all of this. For instance I actually thought he already was gay, which just goes to show how little time I spend scrutinising the lifestyle and habits of Phillip Schofield. If he had been I wouldn’t have been remotely bothered anyway but, oh my, how hard must it have been to tell his wife of 27 years, not to mention his daughters. It can’t be the kind of thing you just mention while you’re emptying the dishwasher. Incidentally, I imagine Phillip Schofield has very soft hands, and I say that as someone who also has soft hands; I’m buggered if I’m going to invite the wrath of a livid, perpetually offended LGBTQ community. Perhaps buggered is not the best choice of words but I’m also buggered if I can think of a substitute at short notice (this is being written in a haste befitting a man looking forward to doing nothing for the rest of his evening).
Anyway, 27 years is a long time and that must be hard all round. Phillip insisted that his whole family had rallied around him and if that includes his wife and kids then that’s a pretty good indicator of how nice a bloke he must be. I did laugh, however, when someone leaned in and said to me (as if they knew) “I’ve heard he can be a right cunt”. Well let me say that of all the things I had been able to think of to call Phillip Schofield in the past then that would have come at the bottom of the list. For once I am in agreement with the yawn-factory – Dermot O’Leary – in supporting little Pip’s decision and one would hope that once all the back slapping is over everyone can go back to their dreary lives on the sofa. Phillip has finally come out and is dealing with a sexuality that had “become an issue in my head”. I expect that’s not the only place that it’s an issue but a sincere good luck to him, dear chap, and well done to him on making the nation distract itself for a few seconds. In an age of creeping coronavirus and bad politics his timing couldn’t be better.
G B Hewitt. 07.02.2020