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Phillip Schofield helped set Caron Keating up with future hubby Russ

Presenter gave green light to pal who wanted to date his former girlfriend

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Happy days: TV presenters Sarah Greene (centre), Phillip Schofield and Caron Keating in 1988

Happy days: TV presenters Sarah Greene (centre), Phillip Schofield and Caron Keating in 1988

Happy days: TV presenters Sarah Greene (centre), Phillip Schofield and Caron Keating in 1988

Broadcaster Phillip Schofield has revealed how he gave his blessing to his best pal to date his ex-girlfriend Caron Keating after they split.

The 58-year-old revealed the story in his new book, Life is What You Make It, in which he talks about his relationship with Caron, the late daughter of Portadown TV star Gloria Hunniford, and his horror at abuse directed towards Christine Lampard.

Having spotted Caron working as a Blue Peter presenter when he was in the CBBC Broom cupboard, Phillip, who came out as gay on This Morning earlier this year, admitted that when they split up they "parted as the very best of friends".

He wrote: "One afternoon, as I was sitting in the booth and watching Blue Peter, a new presenter was introduced. I sat up. Caron Keating was welcomed to the team.

"I was instantly entranced and set about orchestrating a meeting. We had a few drinks and ended up going out for a while. How to describe Caron? Beautiful, artistic, stubborn, wild, unpre­dictable and one of the world's greatest party animals.

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Gloria with Caron and Russ on their wedding day at St Peter’s Church at Hever

Gloria with Caron and Russ on their wedding day at St Peter’s Church at Hever

Gloria with Caron and Russ on their wedding day at St Peter’s Church at Hever

"Caron would leave a black­-tie event and insist she knew a shortcut out. Thirty minutes later, we'd be lost in the kitchens of the Grosvenor House and sitting with the staff, drinking whisky.

"If I went out with her for a romantic meal, by the end we would be sharing our table with 30 drunken revellers and someone would have invariably found a fiddle to play. It was fun and brilliantly chaotic, but not easy to under­stand."

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Gloria Hunniford and Caron Keating

Gloria Hunniford and Caron Keating

Gloria Hunniford and Caron Keating

After they split, Phil's best friend and manager Russ Lindsay (above with Caron) asked if he could ask her out.

The pair subsequently married and remained together until her death in 2004 at the age of 41, with Phillip commenting: "He was the perfect man for her". The former Going Live presenter added: "One day, Russ nervously asked me if he could ask her out. Would it break the lads' code? 'Absolutely fine by me, mate. You're perfect for each other. I'm thrilled,' I said.

"And they were perfect for each other. They had two won­derful boys in Charlie and Gabriel. Along with Steph and our girls, we all went on holiday together.

"My mind always goes to the memory of Caron and I dancing round the pool table to Fairytale of New York.

"Caron was a wonderful friend to have, a shining light in all our lives. Russ was indeed the perfect man for her.

"He tenderly and selflessly cared for her as she fought breast cancer, and he was devoted to her right up to the moment she tragically succumbed to it. Her boys are a constant credit to her."

Clearly, Phil is a fan of the Northern Irish as he also praised Newtownards telly host Christine Lampard as "one of the most amazing female presenters" he's worked with.

He also spoke of his horror at the abuse the 41-year-old received around the time that she left the BBC for ITV to host Daybreak. Speaking about her joining him to present Dancing on Ice, he said: "Christine was getting a battering by the press. It was horrid to see her go through it because Christine is one of the genuine people in the entire business."

In his book the TV presenter also revealed how chaos ensued when he switched on the Christmas lights in Belfast. He was appearing in the city with his Going Live co-presenter Sarah Greene in 1987, but when the crowds started crushing them, someone panicked and hit the button to turn the lights on.

He wrote: "The crowd pushed forwards as we were advancing in our tight circle, protected by the RUC, towards the shed (where the button was). And then, just for a moment, the circle broke and Sarah and I watched as the mayor got sucked out into the crowd. 'Stand aside!' I heard him cry as he drifted helpless out into the crowd. At no point did we feel anything other than warmth from the crowd.

"Then the Belfast City Christmas lights came on. We were helpless with laughter. Someone had spotted the mayor adrift in the crowd and panicked. They had hit the button and turned on the lights. Sarah and I made it to the shed, gave a speech of thanks... and turned off the Christmas lights."

n Life's What You Make of It by Phillip Schofield, published by Michael Joseph, is out now

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