The amount of support and affection expressed for Phillip Schofield over the weekend reflects the enormous respect he is held in today. For some he is one of ITV’s biggest stars. For others he is fondly thought of for his time as a highly successful children’s presenter, just like so many others of his era.
But there are probably some people – probably all men in their mid to late 40s – whose affection for Phillip is a bit different. It’s not so much just about his time in the ‘broom cupboard’ as the way in which he did it and why.
When Phillip started linking the afternoon programmes in 1985 (don’t forget he also did the standard 5.35pm link – “bye bye Wales and Northern Ireland”) he was, in effect, the BBC’s first in-vision announcer for 20 odd years.
Most young pres fans already knew the broom cupboard. Occasionally Noel had paid a visit on Swap Shop or it featured on other programmes popular with children. But to see someone using it live every afternoon with such obvious love and enthusiasm. Wow!
Adding to the fun, here was a guy making something of the bits between programmes we loved but weren’t to notice. It was like our joke amongst ourselves. All with cheap graphics, mostly off the BBC Micro. Plus Ceefax for the top 40, and who remembers “Sid’s horrible caption time” on Fridays for the Saturday morning menu?
He instinctively got what continuity was and built an amazing, close relationship with the audience. No surprise – allegedly as a boy he turned the sound down to pretend he was introducing programmes on BBC One. Bless.
And remember too that for his first year, Phillip wasn’t namechecked in Radio Times nor did he get a conventional namecheck on air regularly. The nearest was: “Well it’s just gone two o’clock. Phillip Schofield’s here at five to four to introduce today’s children’s programmes. Just before that there’s the regional news, but for now, BBC One returns to some more Pages from Ceefax.”
I bet there are a few pres fans who still think of Phillip as something of the big brother they never had. They’re so happy for him that he became a star – it was inevitable – but they knew where he came from.
Oh how we cringed when papers at the weekend said he’d been a “comedian” or “puppeteer” with Gordon the Gopher – as actually operated by another member of the pres team.
Later CBBC presenters – however good and popular – were always in Phillip’s shadow and something was lost when CBBC left the broom cupboard for a real studio even though this was probably the right thing for 99% of viewers.
It’s all of those people who thought so well of Phillip then who’ll want him to have every happiness in his life and want him to get the privacy with his loved ones that he deserves. And they must be sorry too to imagine the person they “knew” back then was ever facing anguish.
PICTURED: Phillip Schofield - as pictured on a Going Live publicity card. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: BBC.