Phillip Schofield: Sweet sign to parents after defying critics in Andrew Lloyd Webber show

Phillip Schofield has taken on a variety of roles during his three decades in the world of showbiz. He started out as a presenter on the show ‘Shazam!’ before fronting CBBC, becoming a guest DJ and even the star of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Though most commonly known for his time on the ‘This Morning’ couch, alongside Holly Willoughby, the star was a roaring success on the big stage. Despite initial criticism that he wasn’t talented enough to front the West End production ‘Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, he astonished crowds. Before the first performance, even Lord Webber himself had doubts ahead of the young star’s debut at the London Palladium – as it was considered such a risky gamble. But Phillip overcame the odds – despite having no stage experience – to receive a rapturous applause from the crowd. Unearthed accounts from that fateful night reveal a heartwarming gesture made by young Phillip to honour his parents. 

Against all odds, Phillip Schofield was cast as ‘Joseph’ in the eponymous musical production despite having had no previous professional stage experience.

Lord Webber, whose hit productions are shown every weekend during the coronavirus lockdown on YouTube channel ‘The Show Must Go On’, chose him because he felt the presenter was a “Joseph type”.

He needed to fill the role after lead and Neighbour’s star Jason Donovan needed a break following a successful run on the West End. 

The unlikely casting was recounted in Robin McGibbon’s 1992 biography ‘Phillip Schofield: The Whole Amazing Story’, 

He explained that despite the presenter’s utter lack of experience, the emerging star had a few desirable qualities for the role.

Mr McGibbon said: “He had the look. He had the personality. He had the charisma. 

“And more importantly, he had a huge young following – vital for what was essentially a children’s show.” 

Whether Phillip had a “good voice” and could “sing in front of 2,300 people, six nights a week” was one of the main questions pondered by Lord Webber and an army of eager critics.

The future ITV star would have been fully aware that a number of newspapers journalists and others would be longing “to see him flop”.

The move was considered extremely risky as he could have “humiliated himself” and also it could have set his TV career back years.

Mr McGibbon added: “Phillip was unconcerned that certain critics might be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of knocking him off his pedestal the moment he sang off-key.”

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Phillip dropped a stone in the 60-day run-up to his debut performance, as well as kicking his 20-a-day cigarette habit, according to Mr McGibbon.

On January 13, 1992, the night of the star would don the ‘amazing technicolour dreamcoat’ for the first time, he was recognised as a roaring success.

The biographer who attended that show wrote: “Everyone was on their feet, cheering as he skipped through the cast to take his bow. 

“It was a motivating ovation that not only bought out the goose bumps again, but also made the eyes fill.

“Typically, Phillip did not come out showing off with arrogant, ‘I showed you’ salutes. 

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“There was no need for extravagant waving; it is not in his nature anyway. Instead, he looked out to the audience almost stunned, with just an enormous smile.”

For his grand finale, Phillip put on the infamous coat once more and was hoisted up into the air on a hydraulic lift. 

Now at eyeline with the Royal Circle, he looked over to his family and future-wife Stephanie Lower and gave a subtle gesture of thanks to them.

Mr McGibbon wrote: “He looked at them, at the dad he had brought back to life, now punching the air with pride, and they were all on their feet, smiling, with tears in their eyes. 

“Phillip looked at them. He gently grinned. Then, in an intimate gesture, meant only for them, he slightly raised his right arm from the hip and gave the the most subtle thumbs up. 

“He’d done it. And he’d done it for them.”

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