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The This Morning star made his debut on British TV screens 35 years ago after he got his first break in New Zealand on the teen music show Shazam! His ambitions were identified at an early age, when he used to pretend to be a disc-jockey and boasted to teachers that someday he would be famous. Phillip, who released his autobiography Life’s What You Make It today, was previously dismissed by school mentors who felt his dreams were too big for a normal child from Newquay. But the future ITV star proved them wrong, despite enduring mockery, and would go on to become one of the nation’s most beloved presenters.
One of Phillip’s teachers, Barbara Reeve, previously described him as one of her favourite pupils – not for his academic talent, but his “lively personality” and for exuding “loads of confidence”.
The educator’s daughter Jane said her late mother regularly talked about the talented youngster and was surprised that “someone so young” was so self-assured.
While she claimed that most boys wanted to be a “train driver or fireman”, Phillip was “adamant [that] he wanted to go into radio”.
Jane’s mother boasted about his “lovely imagination” and described him as a “super star” who stood out from the other 30 children in the class.
She added: “He’d walk around the school with a make-believe microphone in his hand, pretending to talk into it.”
While teachers were won-over by the youngster’s charm, some classmates were not and chose to give him the cruel nickname “Scabby”.
Debbie Teagle, one of his former classmates, explained her theory behind the nickname in Robin McGibbon’s 1992 biography Phillip Schofield: The Whole Amazing Story.
While she was “not quite sure how the name originated”, she believed it was chosen “simply because it went so well with Schofield”.
Neighbour Laura Varga remembered Phillip as “always being clean and tidy” but Ms Teagle gave a different account, in which he was unafraid to get into a fight.
She recalled her group of friends stumbled across him with a wheelbarrow full of dud fireworks the day after Guy Fawkes night.
She said: “We kept teasing Phillip, ‘Nice fireworks you’ve got there Scabby.’ Suddenly the wheelbarrow went over.”
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As they scrambled for the unexploded rockets, Ms Teagle remembered that “Phillip went mad” and furiously yanked at her arms as he tried to snatch them off her.
She said: “Before you knew it we were involved in an almighty fight on the ground, screaming and pulling each other’s hair.
“I was older, but Phillip gave as good as he got and the fight was pretty 50-50.”
The scrap was ended when the future star’s mother, who was pregnant with his brother Tim at the time, heard the commotion and raced out.
Debbie remembered her pulling them apart and dragging Phillip home.
Robin McGibbon’s Phillip Schofield: The Whole Amazing Story was self-published in 1992 and is available here.
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