Phillip Schofield, who grew up and was educated in Newquay, is one of Britain’s best-loved TV presenters, starting out on children’s TV and now hosting This Morning and Dancing on Ice. Here, he chats about The Military Awards, which he will be co-hosting with Amanda Holden, why he still hates early mornings, and how ice is really, really slippy...
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE MILITARY AWARDS?
It was just one of those phone calls. I thought, ‘I’d really like to do that’. I’m very lucky with the shows I do, they’re varied and I meet a whole range of people, and this just seemed to be right up my street. There was never a moment when I thought, ‘really?’. I knew I wanted to do it.
THERE ARE OFTEN VERY EMOTIONAL MOMENTS ON THE NIGHT. IS IT DIFFICULT TO REMAIN COMPOSED?
Thankfully, the way we work it – and it’s an essential and quite important way of doing it – is that a couple of days before the event we have a meeting and we’ll be sent a DVD featuring all the stories from the night, and I’ll watch that with my wife. So we’ve got all that out of the way, I’ve gathered myself together and we’ve rehearsed it during the day, and we’re in full readiness.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE STAND-OUT MOMENTS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS?
It’s difficult to say because they’re all extraordinary. Each one of those stories being celebrated will say, ‘I was just doing my job, that’s what I’m trained for’. I also met the guys from Bomber Command, the 90-year-old gentlemen whose piloting skills were extraordinary, and the men who, on a daily basis, didn’t know if that day was going to be their last. Obviously with any serving personnel that’s the case, but these guys were right at the thick end of it.
YOU DO A LOT OF LIVE TV – DO YOU STILL GET NERVOUS?
I don’t find it daunting. It depends what you’re doing. Thankfully The Military Awards is a pre-recorded show, which gives people the time to get from their seats. Sometimes, someone who is getting on in years needs that extra little bit of time, and live television doesn’t allow that. With the other things I do, I’m usually nervous for the first one; there are always butterflies for the first of the series.
DO YOU HAVE A DREAM PROJECT?
Oh, gosh! There are all sorts of ideas you have that you write down and throw out there. then find out if it’s possible to make them. Then there are ideas that people come to me with that are interesting. I’m pretty good at spotting decent ones. There are a lot that come through that I turn down. People who watch me on the telly might think that’s not the case – because I seem to be on all the time! – but I do turn down an awful lot!
ANY PLANS TO RETURN TO MUSICAL THEATRE?
Sadly, no. And that’s not something I’m particularly happy about. I loved my time in the theatre, but it was such a long time ago now. The kids who watch The Cube have no idea I ever did it. It’d be nice to do occasionally, maybe when telly falls out of love with me, I’ll see if I can have another play in the theatre, because I did love the timing. It’s a late night, lie-in in the morning schedule – and that’s what my body clock’s like.
SO IS GETTING UP FOR THIS MORNING A NIGHTMARE FOR YOU?
Forcing myself to go to bed after the 10 o’clock news on a weekday is really tough, and there has never been a single, solitary morning that my alarm has gone off at half past five years that I’ve actually enjoyed the moment - especially when it’s winter and you’re getting ready in the dark so you don’t wake anybody up.
BACK TO DANCING ON ICE – HAVE YOU EVER FANCIED BEING A CONTESTANT?
Not for the briefest moment! It’s too dangerous, it hurts too much, it’s bloody hard – it really is! What’s more, those blades... I think people forget the peril. Those blades are like knives, so when you’re skating with your partner, there are four knives on the ice.
BUT IT’S SAFE BEING A PRESENTER, RIGHT?
It constantly keeps you on your toes because, God forbid, if something were to go wrong, that’s where you earn your money and you’ve got to be on your mettle. It happened once with one of the professional skaters, Mark Hanratty, and as he skated he fell and his shoulder came out of the joint. Then you’ve got to be aware of how he is, all the camera shots, where his partner is, because they might very well hamper the rescue effort because they’re blubbing around them, so you call them over, separate them, try to make sure they’re not sick on the ice, because that would be a real nightmare to clean...
HAVE YOU HAD A GO ON THE ICE?
I’ve been to Hampton Court Palace to skate, and I’ve had a go on the rink at Elstree when it’s there. You always go out there and think it’s easier than it is, and then you step out and you realise it really is slippery... I am rubbish!
THE FINAL SERIES IS GOING TO BE AN ALL-STAR EVENT
It will be really great because there will be a lot of people who can skate right from the word ‘go’. A lot of the skaters will be of an equal ability once they get back on the ice, so I think we’ll have a real competition.
IT’S A SHAME IT’S COMING TO AN END
Eight million people are not getting it wrong on a Sunday night. Although they won’t stop skating, there’s an enormous amount of work involved for Torvill and Dean in Dancing On Ice, especially for Chris, so I think it’s the right time for it to end. Whether skating is reinvented in the future, who knows?
*Phillip Schofield co-hosts A Night of Heroes – The Military Awards on ITV on Monday, December 16, at 9pm