Phillip Schofield: Father’s blunt response after TV star saved him when he ‘dropped dead’

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The TV star, 58, is considered a national treasure by many who have watched him on BBC and ITV shows over the decades. Most recently, Schofield has presented This Morning alongside Holly Willoughby, who helped the star when he came out as gay last year. But before making a name for himself in the UK, the presenter got his first break in New Zealand.

It was there – nearly 11,500 miles away – that Schofield raced to action to save the life of his father Brian. 

Then a presenter on the pop show Shazam!, the rising star had a “very busy, hectic and lovely social life” because of his national fame.

But during an “incredibly rare moment” when Schofield was relaxing at home, he faced the horror of watching his father “drop dead” before his eyes.

Schofield knew something was wrong when he heard his father enter the house without previously hearing his car pull-up into their long driveway. 

He recalled: “He came and said, ‘I locked my keys in the car, they are down the hill. I’ve had to walk up.

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“I said ‘Ok, well I’ll get my key and I’ll run you down in my car’, he then went into the kitchen and did something that he very seldom ever did. 

“He poured a glass of water and came in and sat in his chair in the sitting room.

“At which stage I was thinking about getting up to get the keys, I was thinking ‘Does he not want me to go and drop him down now?’

“And then he had the most spectacular heart attack right there in front of us and dropped dead in his chair.”

Schofield’s mother Pat raced outside to ask for help from their neighbours and his brother called an ambulance.

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Without hesitation, the TV star grabbed his father by his ankles, tried to pull him off the chair and then started resuscitation efforts.

Schofield recalled: “I started doing CPR in the way you’re supposed to do it but nothing was happening. 

“I was doing mouth-to-mouth CPR and nothing happened.

“So I then put my left hand on his chest and was wheeling my right hand over the top of my head and smashing it down onto his chest.

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“I did that about three times, he made a noise and I thought, ‘Well maybe this could be working?’ so I just kept doing that and doing mouth-to-mouth.”

Schofield had no formal CPR training and quipped that he had “probably just seen it on the telly, on Kojak or something”.

When the ambulance paramedics arrived they told him he was “not doing it right” but it did “seem to be doing something”.

Schofield recalled: “They cut his t-shirt, it was his favourite t-shirt and I knew he’d be furious… [they] got the paddles out, put them together, put him on his chest and said ‘Clear!’

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“It was like being in a TV show, they zapped him and his eyes opened and he said ‘I’m alright’… [but later] he couldn’t remember any of it.”

In the hospital, doctors checked out Schofield too because he had bruised his hands so badly that they initially thought he had “broken both arms”.

Schofield’s father survived and later had a quadruple heart bypass, which gave him 25 more years until his death in 2009 from his heart condition. 

When Brian Schofield came around in hospital there was “only one thing” that “hurt”.

Schofield recalled: “[He said,] ‘God, my bloody chest hurts!’ And I said, ‘Does it really?’

“He said, ‘I’ve got this awful bruise on my chest’ – [caused] because I’d been thumping him for about 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived.”

The near-death experience led the Schofield family to return to the UK, as they realised they were “a very, very long way from home”.

He continued: “We loved where we were, I love New Zealand, I owe New Zealand so much for what it did for me.

“I was encouraged to have this wide knowledge of TV, which has always stood me in good stead.

“I loved where I was, I loved my job but we suddenly realised, ‘We are a very, very long way from home here’.

“Once he recovered the decision was made that we were going to come back.”

Phillip Schofield was interviewed on the podcast Life, Interrupted with Simon Thomas, which was released earlier this month. It is available here.

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