Phillip Schofield‘s hosting of the British Soap Awards on ITV next Saturday has reportedly caused the channel to fear blowback.
Following rumours of a falling out with Holly Willoughby, the former This Morning presenter, 61, walked aside from his post after more than 20 years.
The couple was supposed to be ‘barely communicating’ behind the scenes, and their relationship was said to have ‘cooled’.
Following Phil’s announcement that he would be leaving the ITV daytime show, it was stated that Holly, 42, would continue to present, while Phil would move on to present a ‘new peak time series’ and host the next awards event.
However, it has now been alleged that ITV is afraid of blowback from the public and other celebrities who may support Holly’s’side’.
A source said: ‘It’s a big Saturday night event with celebrities and a paying public audience in the theatre. It’s happening very soon.
‘What if viewers side with Holly and Phil gets jeered?’
The insider continued to The i: ‘It’s a high-risk return for Phil and his presence could overshadow the event.’
This comes as Phil, who has hosted the British Soap Awards since 2006, has yet to declare whether he will return to host Dancing On Ice, with ITV stating that it would be disclosed in ‘due time’.
Announcing his departure, Phil wrote on Saturday: ‘I have always been proud to cover fascinating stories on This Morning. But recently, This Morning itself has become the story.
‘Throughout my career in TV – including the very difficult last few days – I have always done my best to be honourable and kind.
‘I understand that ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on, and I want to do what I can to protect the show that I love.’
He continued: ‘So I have agreed to step down from This Morning with immediate effect, in the hope that the show can move forward to a bright future.
‘I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me – especially This Morning’s amazing viewers – and I’ll see you all for the Soap Awards next month.’
Holly added in a statement: ‘It’s been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour.
‘The sofa won’t feel the same without him.’
Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director, Media and Entertainment said: ‘Phillip is hands down one of the best broadcasters of his generation and we thank him for his two decades worth of absolutely terrific television on the This Morning sofa.
‘This Morning is made by one of the best and most diligent teams in television, who produce over 12 hours of live television each week.’
‘We look forward to continuing our relationship with Phillip starting with The British Soap Awards in June and a brand new peak time series to come.’
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV1.