Phillip Schofield is less popular among Britons than Chinese president Xi Jinping, a new poll shows. The survey of 2,074 British adults invited people to say whether they had a positive or negative opinion of a range of figures.
For Mr Schofield, 49 percent of those surveyed said they held a negative opinion while the figure for Xi was 44 percent, according to the poll by J.L. Partners.
The 61-year-old resigned from ITV last month and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague.
Holly Willoughby said this week she felt “shaken, troubled, let down and worried” as she made her return to This Morning in the wake of her former co-star’s departure from the ITV show.
In interviews last week, Mr Schofield told The Sun and BBC Willoughby did not know about the affair.
Former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes and the show’s former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh have both separately made allegations about the culture behind the scenes at the programme in the wake of Phil’s departure.
ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall is due to appear at a parliamentary committee on Wednesday to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Mr Schofield’s exit.
Overall, only one in 10 people (10 percent) of those surveyed in J.L. Partners’ poll have a positive view of Mr Schofield, which is the same number as for former US President Donald Trump.
Willoughby fares better although overall she is an unpopular figure with the British public. Only one in five (21 percent) say they have a positive view, while 32 percent say they have a negative view.
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The most popular figure overall is King Charles III with 43 percent holding a positive and 24 percent a negative view.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most unpopular figure with just four percent viewing him positively while 86 percent view him negatively, the poll shows.
Fellow celebrities and some politicians have shown support for Mr Schofield since news of the affair emerged.
Jeremy Clarkson said he found the criticism of Mr Schofield “weird” and had “never seen a witch hunt like it”.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Clarkson said he does not know Mr Schofield and has “no skin in the fight”, but was commenting on the outrage which followed the saga.
He wrote: “He maintains that his lover was over the age of consent when their relationship became physical, but that hasn’t silenced the howls of disgust.”
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He added: “I’ve never seen a witch-hunt like it, and what baffles me most of all is that, as things stand, no crime has been committed.
“I don’t know him at all well and have no skin in the game, but it seems to me he is only guilty of being what he said he was: gay.”
LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the outrage against Mr Schofield has “more than a whiff of homophobia” to it.
The former Labour politician said the pair’s relationship had been “cast as sordid and abusive” while other high-profile heterosexual relationships with significant age differences had not been met with such outrage.
Mr Schofield told The Sun he and his former lover had met when the man was 15 and he was “maybe” in his mid-50s, but added the affair began after the man started working at ITV and had been “consensual”.
ITV has instructed Jane Mulcahy KC, of Blackstone Chambers, to “carry out an external review to establish the facts”.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said this week she is “very pleased” ITV has instructed Ms Mulcahy to carry out the review.
Ms Frazer said: “I think there’s an incident that’s happened. I’m very, very pleased that ITV are taking it seriously.
“I’m very pleased that they wrote to me, and to the committee, I’m very pleased that they’ve appointed a KC to investigate the position.”
J.L. Partners polled a representative sample of 2,074 British adults between June 5 and 6 with fieldwork completed online.
The results were weighted by gender, age and region to be representative of the population with the margin of error +/- 2.2 percent.
J.L. Partners is a member of the British Polling Council and a Company Partner of the Market Research Society.
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