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Philip Schofield knew he was gay when he got married

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Philip Schofield (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Philip Schofield (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Philip Schofield (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Television presenter Phillip Schofield has admitted he knew he was gay when he got married in 1993, but that he was "naive" to think he could suppress his sexuality.

Schofield spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time on Friday in an emotional on-air chat with his This Morning co-host and close friend Holly Willoughby.

The TV star, who has been a fixture on the programme since 2002, has been married to wife Steph for more than 20 years and they have two grown-up daughters.

"Whatever was 'there' I thought, 'OK, whatever this is, you stay back because I am happy'," he told The Sun on Sunday.

Keeping his sexuality secret from his wife Steph led to Schofield struggling with suicidal thoughts and having therapy, he said.

Schofield has praised his wife and their daughters Molly and Ruby for their support, and described co-presenter Holly Willoughby as "the sister I never had".

"Holly has been incredible, so supportive, so kind. I was depressed and it was taking a toll on my mental health," he said.

At one time he thought he might have been bisexual, but later came to terms with the fact he was gay.

"If you ask anyone who is gay, they know, there is no confusion," he said.

Schofield said his wife had known he was gay "for a while" and said she was "the kindest, sweetest soul I could have possibly met".

He added that he loves his wife as much as when they first met.

"That is what makes this so hard. Knowing you are hurting the perfect person," he said.

Schofield said he did not know if his marriage would last, and declined to say if he was in a relationship with a man.

Meanwhile, Schofield's mother has told of her pride in her TV presenter son after he came out as gay.

Schofield visited his mother, 83-year-old Pat, in Cornwall to tell her the news and she revealed she told him "I don't care".

She told the Mirror: "For him to be so brave in front of so many people was inspiring, because I know how hard it was for him to do.

"I love Steph and the girls more than anything in the world and I will always be there for them.

"When Phillip drove to Cornwall to tell me, the first thing I said was I don't care.

"Yes it was a shock, but nothing as a family that we can't support and applaud."

Schofield, 57, stunned viewers on Friday with a bombshell announcement on the This Morning sofa. The final show of the week is usually hosted by Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, but Schofield and Willoughby appeared as guests.

Willoughby, 38, read out a statement from her co-presenter, revealing his years of struggling with being gay, including some "very dark moments".

It said: "My inner conflict contrasts with an outside world that has changed so very much for the better. Today, quite rightly, being gay is a reason to celebrate and be proud. Yes, I am feeling pain and confusion, but that comes only from the hurt that I am causing to my family."

Schofield, who met Steph, 55, while she worked in production and he on a BBC children's TV show, said his wife has been "incredible," adding "she is the kindest soul I have ever met".

He said their daughters have been "astonishing in their love" while both his and Steph's families have "stunned" him with their support.

On the This Morning sofa, Schofield spoke of that support.

He told Willoughby: "It's funny because everyone I have spoken to, you have all been so supportive, so loving and caring.

"My entire family, to a person, have grabbed us and said 'It's OK, we love you, we are proud of you', and every person I tell, it gets a little lighter and a little lighter.

"But at the same time I've made this decision, which is essential for me and for my head, which is the reason why I've done this, I'm very aware that Steph and the girls are at home watching this. They have been supporting this as, we got to this moment."

He added that while he felt "a little lighter" having made the announcement, he was also "very aware, there is no question that it causes pain and it causes upset".

He said he has "no secrets" from his wife, adding: "We have never had any secrets.

"It's tough, this is not something that has happened quickly, I've had to deal with this in my head for quite some time. We've been honest and open."

After Willoughby commented that he had not had his "hand forced" to make the announcement, he said: "This is my decision. This is absolutely my decision. It was something I knew that I had to do."

Schofield's decision to come out received widespread praise.

PA Media