WE have a tiny amount of history, Phillip Schofield and I.

While doing the promo for an 80s vintage music festival last year, my brother and I (as Hue And Cry) appeared on his ITV show This Morning, chatting on the couch and then singing a song.

We had a few off-stage minutes before and after our spot, where we blethered about being on the same kids’ TV shows nearly 40 years ago.

Daytime television is a hail-fellow-well-met environment, where all backstage conversation stays generally light and inane – so I’ve nothing much more to report.

Other than that, Schofield was the same as he appeared to us in the late 80s – the headlights fully on, super-duper-friendly, giving the impression of being the ultimate fan of what you’re doing.

I go along with the general citizens’ complaint about the blanket media coverage of Schofield’s resignation from the show, caused by his confession of a relationship with a young adult runner that he brought into the programme.

The social media satirist Cold War Steve got it right. A few days ago he put up a new and typically savage collage.

On the right, a wall of TV monitors displays Schofield’s stricken features, sitting behind two of his most corpulent accusers.

On the left, in burning food-banked Britain, a circle of Tory government ministers are digging a hole and chucking in their laptops, just as the Covid inquiry demands more evidence from them. Wielding a shovel, Boris Johnson is – as Cold War Steve regularly depicts him – obscenely naked. 

So yes, of course, Schofield is a distraction from – well, take your pick of alternative lead stories.

The World Meteorological Society predicting we’ll breach 1.5C of warming sometime in the next five years? Three hundred and fifty AI experts and leading tech CEOs saying the technology could extinguish humans, or at least “enfeeble” us? One in four

17-to-19-year-olds suffering mental health disorders? Putin citing Hiroshima to justify using nukes in Ukraine? There’s no shortage of system-meltdown news.

But considering the crisis of a daytime TV presenter, and the cultural sector he operates in, is hardly irrelevant.

It raises questions of how our attention span gets directed, to what does and doesn’t matter. Strangely enough, for a programming schedule usually regarded as for the less-than-employed and purely domestic, daytime TV has become more ideological in recent years.

Schofield’s former show has been a locus for this. The quizmaster Carol Vorderman has transformed her couch time on This Morning into a running broadside against Tory perfidy – particularly around Conservative ministers and peers personally benefitting from government contracts.

At the same time on the show, Schofield and his co-host Holly Willoughby recently spun a grotesque “wheel of fortune”, where lucky phone-ins could get at least one of their groaning domestic bills paid.

Like too much of UK news and factual programming, This Morning takes its leads from a commercial press which is, in the majority, sulphurously right-wing.

An investigation into the show’s YouTube archives from 2015-2016 revealed many items where the exorbitantly paid presenters interrogated mothers with many children. They were clearly cast in “welfare scrounger” roles, as the Mail, Star and Express pursued that agenda.

Others have noted the same effect on Loose Women, another ITV daytime show driven by the tabs. It recently posed such illiberalisms as “Should protesting be banned?” and “Are the police becoming too PC?”

I would give a pass to Channel Five’s Jeremy Vine Show, competing in the same time slot. Not that it’s any less tabloid-led, but I would say that its ideological window casts pretty wide. I’ve been on several times and always felt that my progressive-indy position has been given full respect and due.

The post-Corbyn pundit crew (including Owen Jones, Rachel Shabi, Ash Sarkar and others) are regularly on, usually facing the most scrofulous right-wing populists, thus guaranteeing a barney for the ratings.

I’d also note that Vine’s show is produced by ITN, an undeniably serious and judicious news organisation.

So daytime TV isn’t just escapism and non-engagement for escapees and the non-engaged. (An honourable mention, too, for Lorraine Kelly’s 9am show – whose couch my brother and I have also creased – and her consistent, civilised support of the full range of LGBTQ+ identities, during very rough weather).

The sector has, shall we say, its structural defects. As the critic Stuart Heritage wrote a few years ago: “At its worst, it feels as if daytime television has just three messages: a) people want to steal your stuff, b) you should totally sell all your stuff and c) you urgently need to move house.”

My daytime TV-watching excuse is my hotel room slump after the gig the night before. Once I get the Marxist spasm out of my system, I’ll confess to being quietly moved by the narratives of limited transformation in this slot. Scrunch up your eyes, and they even attain the elemental level of myth and ritual.

There are shows about moving from city to country, or from shabby Britain to glittering Somewhere Abroad. These express longings that are as old as our notions of Arcadia, or Eden, itself. There is the obsession with fixing, flipping and flogging off your property.

If nothing else, it’s a reminder of Thatcher’s deepest, most profound victory, only now maybe receding as the polycrisis drives the housing crisis. But “home” can always be better constructed; it shouldn’t be derided.

Another theme is food, sumptuously prepared for friends and beloveds. The palaeontologists are clear on this – applying heat and ingenuity to flesh and fibre is as old as human sapience itself.

Indeed, the increase in protein as a result of cooking may well have expanded our brains to that state. When you’re lying there, untethered to the machinery of the working day, could the TV deliver any more primal a message?

Indeed, my challenge to my fellow lefties would be to think of similarly enjoyable media formats, but with radically different contents.

If we can have A Place In The Sun, why can’t we do an equally aspirational series on the wild variety of stories behind migrants to this country? If we can Clean It, Fix It, why couldn’t we also highlight social enterprises, civil society and mutual aid initiatives, whose energy and ingenuity are equally transforming their living conditions?

Maybe recent pushes towards shorter working weeks and flexitime open up some hours in people’s lives for them to watch such enabling TV. Such a combination – as opposed to the current enervation – could be inspiring.

So there you have the noble, even progressive case for daytime telly (or at least a reformed version).

But with due diligence to my topic, I did take 40 minutes to watch Philip Schofield being interviewed by Amol Rajan on the BBC the other night.

Phillip, as have I experienced him directly, is a plausible and instantly engaging character. Who can say whether his steady denials that he groomed this young runner into being his lover, or that he operated as a bully and manipulator in his workplace, are true or false? How convincing can a consummate performer be?

Yet, as the mirror neurons flash between viewer and subject, who could deny this broken man is at the end of his tether to life itself?

Whatever Schofield has to figure out, internally and externally – and it sounds like a few decades’ worth – we’d hardly wish him to extinguish himself before he starts. Would we?

We’re all navigating the storms of a shift between the bad old systems, and the good new ones: all hands on deck are required.

With no criminality evident, let’s avert our eyes from Mr Schofield’s personal car crash, wishing all involved the most humane of outcomes. And back to the bigger stramashes.