It’s hard to ignore the apparent chill that’s spread over Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield’s seemingly bulletproof friendship.
The couple once appeared to be inseparable.
The ‘This Morning’ stars would be enjoying their holiday together in the Algarve; stifling a bleary-eyed giggle on the sofa after a particularly busy night at the National Television Awards; And when Phil came out as gay on the show in 2020, Holly was the one who lovingly hugged and comforted him.
But now there seems to be trouble in paradise.
Rumor has it that the two fell out after Phillip failed to tell Holly his brother is on trial for child molestation.
And although Phil insists they’re still best friends, insiders say the two hardly ever talk now, sparking crisis talks on This Morning.
Speaking half of a longtime TV partnership that has long since veered into the realm of friendship, I have genuine sympathy for both of them.
I know how lucky I am to work with a true professional like Lord Sugar.
But my experience working on BBC One’s The Apprentice helped me understand the pressures of television – particularly the importance of having the support of your co-star.
And how difficult it would be if you didn’t.
There are many examples of film duos being boyfriends in real life. Ant and Dec are such great friends that they once lived on the same London street.
But not all TV partnerships can translate into real life.
Gregg Wallace and MasterChef’s John Torode can apparently take or leave each other.
Others have bitter arguments – Eamonn Holmes and Anthea Turner come to mind.
After Anthea sat on the GMTV sofa with Eamonn in the ’90s, he called her “Princess Tippy Toes” and said she was “insufferable”.
Based on my experience with TV partnerships, I’ve been thinking about what the formula might look like to keep things on track.
The first is that Alan and I are real friends.
We became friends through football and then politics, he walked me into the House of Lords when I was introduced and he was a Labor colleague (now he’s a maverick).
We always said friendship first, then football and finally politics.
And now we’re on The Apprentice together. I think it helps that neither of us have to do the show because it’s our main job.
We do it because we enjoy it.
It’s fun, but it’s also a force for good. Alan has given many young people the chance to start their own business – which most of them would not have been able to do without him.
Many have had real success and it has changed their lives for the better.
For us, it’s not just about getting along well on screen. We go on vacation together and he rides his bike with my husband.
I’m also friends with fellow board members new and old from the show, including Tim Campbell, Claude Littner and Nick Hewer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s bloody hard work, working 12-hour days, seven days a week.
That’s why the support and encouragement you get from your peers is crucial.
You have to be able to trust each other and no one can assume that they are better or more important than everyone else.
It’s important not to let the success and perks that come with television go to your head, and it’s important that you deeply respect your peers.
Alan does this so well – I couldn’t have done the show for the last 12 years without his support and encouragement.
Many people warn against mixing business with pleasure and the potential difficulties that can arise.
But the truth is, nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.
I can only imagine how Holly and Phil must be feeling right now as their friendship soars and their every move is scrutinized on live TV every day.
The difficult part is that they are sold as a package (they are the Ant and Dec of daytime TV) and as friends.
Who really knows what’s going on between them?
But pretending we were friends in front of millions of people on the airwaves would be emotionally draining.
HOLD UP VINNIE
MY heart is truly with Vinnie Jones, who said last week that he feels “broken” inside and is having a hard time comprehending going to bed alone four years after the death of his wife Tanya.
Some marriages are just for that, and you can see that it was such a partnership by how deeply Vinnie feels about the loss of Tanya, who died in 2019 at the age of 53.
They had been married for 25 years when she tragically died of cancer.
And while some might say four years is a long time, Vinnie’s words are a reminder that the pain of grief waxes and wanes, and often never really goes away.
Send you strength, Vinnie.
OLD THE BABY. . .
I feel tired just thinking about Robert De Niro welcoming a new baby into his life — at the age of 79.
Gia Virginia Chen-De Niro, his daughter with 45-year-old partner Tiffany Chen, was born a few weeks ago and is the ‘Godfather Part II’ star’s seventh child.
I know that biologically we women fall short in many ways when it comes to periods and menopause.
But then again, menopause is at least a natural pause and offers an intervention for any woman crazy enough to consider having a child in her seventies.
WOKE IS FRAUD
I’m all for being civil and polite, but are we going a little too far when it comes to not insulting prisoners?
Apparently prison guards were told not to refer to inmates as “convicts” – because technically, the pre-trial detainees have not been convicted of any crime.
Staff were also advised to avoid using the term “ex-prisoner” when referring to former prisoners.
Instead, the Prison Service has suggested labeling them “persons with life experience” or “prison leavers.”
It all feels a bit pedantic to me.
FLYING NEST IS THE BEST
According to the latest census, more than half of adults under the age of 24 in England and Wales still live with their parents.
The cost of living crisis is partly to blame, but the stats are still pretty shocking.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of families with adult children living with their parents increased 13.6 percent to nearly 3.8 million in the decade between 2011 and 2021.
And the proportion of 20- to 24-year-olds living with their parents rose from 44.5 percent to just over half, i.e. 51.2 percent.
I see that there are many reasons that make it difficult for young adults to be truly independent, many of which are financial.
But growing up, I literally couldn’t wait to get out of my home, make my own money, live where I wanted, and eat baked beans on toast for tea when I felt like it.
Looking back I think it was really good for me to go my own way and as they grew up I felt the same towards my children.
I adore my children and enjoy their company very much.
But I couldn’t wait for them to leave the house so I could move on to the next chapter of my life — and they could do the same.
HOW disheartening it is to learn that for many young women, sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse in the workplace is the norm.
According to a TUC survey, nearly three in five women have experienced workplace harassment, with more than two in five having experienced at least three incidents of sexual harassment.
This is bad.
Worse still, most victims don’t report it for fear of being discredited or hurting their employment or career prospects.
JENNIFER SET THE TONE
JENNIFER LOPEZ looked stunning at the premiere of her new movie, The Mother, last week.
She wore a dress that showed off her toned abs, something most women in their 20s couldn’t get away with, let alone a woman in their 50s.
Jen says exercise is good for her mental toughness, but boy is it good for her shape too.
As we age, most of us have to do twice as much effort, including diet and exercise, to look even half as good.
Jennifer has to make a triple effort because not only does she look youthful, fit and feminine, she also looks freaking amazing.