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There’s a look in Ruth’s eye that says, ‘Wait till I get you home!’: Eamonn Holmes reveals all about sharing the This Morning sofa with his wife

Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langford celebrate 30 years of This Morning (ITV / Ken McKay)
Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langford celebrate 30 years of This Morning (ITV / Ken McKay)

THEY have been sharing a sofa for years, an integral part of the fabric of This Morning.

But as the ITV favourite celebrates its 30th anniversary this week, Eamonn Holmes says he didn’t team up on-screen with wife Ruth Langsford – after she banned him!

Ruth has been with the show for 18 years, Eamonn a newcomer at “just” 12 years.

“Her advice was simple – she didn’t want me to do it,” says Eamonn, 58, with a broad smile as iN10 catches up with him.

“We had worked together on a special This Morning for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. And when I was asked to join four years later, I said, ‘Great idea, let’s do that’.

“But Ruth said, ‘No, we won’t. I’ll decide whether you work with me’.

“She was quite territorial about it and she wasn’t sure about mixing our personal and professional lives.

“She took a fair bit of persuading – and then she saw the bills coming in and thought she’d better give in.”

Ruth and Eamonn on This Morning

So, is there a danger in a husband and wife screen pairing?

“Yes, there’s a very real risk in it going wrong,” says Belfast-born Eamonn, frankly.

“I see it as a professional job while she can’t separate the fact that we’re married.

“She’s used to getting her way in our private life and can’t understand why it’d be any different in a studio!

“I’m more at ease in a studio than I am in real life but when I came to be her regular partner she said I made her nervous.

“Maybe it’s my presenting style, which can be much more maverick. She likes order, so it would have taken a bit of bedding in.

“Now she rules the roost. If I do something I can see a look in her eye saying, ‘Wait until I get you home’.”

When This Morning launched on October 3, 1988, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan were at the helm, remaining until 2001.

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby have been mainstays since, with Ruth and Eamonn end-of-the-week regulars.

The programme has become a national institution and a regular award-winner, recognised for its high standards and willingness to take risks.

“People thought it’d come to an end when Richard and Judy left but it didn’t,” says Eamonn.

“I don’t think it matters who presents it as long as they’re of a certain standard.

“The content is right and it reaches people’s lives. It has been evolution, not revolution and it’s incredible that it has lasted 30 years.”

Eamonn and Ruth Langsford (Ian West/PA)

The mix of light and dark, serious and throwaway, has been at the heart of the show’s success. Celebrity chat has also been a staple. Many successful, Eamonn muses, a few not so.

Dame Edna Everidge was a laugh-until-you-cry joy, as was Peter Kay. Denzel Washington, Pierce Brosnan, Robin Williams and John Travolta are among the A-list names that trip happily off the tongue.

“The higher up the tree, the lovelier they are,” he says. “Then you get others and think, ‘Oh, just go away.’ Most are American actors, ones you wouldn’t really know but think they are very important.

“And then there was Rhianna . . . I don’t blame these people, it’s often the entourage they bring.”

Hillary Clinton is another famous face that comes readily to mind.

“We were expecting a very serious interview and she was actually a lot of fun.

“I bonded with her over Ireland. We talked off-camera about the peace initiatives she and Bill had led.

“I asked for a selfie and she was happy to do it.

“When we came to chat on-air she was very chilled and relaxed, despite the fact she was then the US Secretary of State, the most powerful woman on earth.”

Eamonn and Ruth celebrate his OBE (PA)

From GMTV to Sky Sunrise and much else besides, Eamonn has always been busy, never forgetting early days when he moved from Belfast to the BBC in Manchester only to be axed just as he was set to be a dad-of-two with a mortgage to pay.

Now, as well as This Morning, he has a daily three-hour show on talkRADIO and he’s back with Ruth soon on a returning live Sunday Channel 5 consumer series called Do The Right Thing.

“I feel guilty if I’m not doing anything,” he admits. “And I feel guilty if I’m not in Belfast, which is my natural instinct.”

Kicking back when he can is essential.

“When I get home I’ll kick my shoes off, put on my sloppy clothes and watch a bit of escapism telly.

“I love Alan Cummings in Instinct, he’s my new favourite.

“My trouble is that if I watch news or current affairs I’m immediately thinking of my radio programme. When I’m reading newspapers that becomes like work, too.

“And if I watch entertainment programmes I’m thinking that I wouldn’t have done it that way or the lighting was wrong or the buzzer shouldn’t have come in.”

(ITV / Ken McKay)

While reckoning he’s become a calmer man as he’s got older, Eamonn worries if a more tranquil approach might be tempering his ambition.

But he insists he is looking ahead to chilling a bit more, and there’s no better place to do that than Scotland.

“I have a real affinity with Scotland, particularly Glasgow.

“When I’m there it’s just like being in Belfast – with all the pluses and the minuses.

“I love the country, the colours and the seasons. When people ask you where in the world you’d like to go, you try to think of somewhere exotic – I’d happily choose Scotland.

“But I would like to travel more and have more time off. I do worry that what I do ties me to a daily grind.

“I find it quite restrictive and I would like to break free and have the confidence to get off the conveyor belt.”

When it comes to that telly escapism, though, there’s one show Eamonn insists there is no chance of him indulging in – Strictly, on which Ruth was one of the standouts last year, paired with fans’ favourite Anton Du Beke.

“I have no intention of watching anything to do with Strictly this year, none whatsoever,” he adds.

“I know it’s like a bereavement to Ruth. She sits in front of that telly pining about Anton and who he’s dancing with.

“And all of them from last year have a WhatsApp group. I know it kissed her life and she feels really blessed but it’s a cult I don’t really understand.

“I have no desire to sit on one of those tiny seats in that audience again. I’ve fretted over the judges’ comments and scores enough.

“So when it’s on I’ll be watching some black and white documentary on whatever channel I can find.”

This Morning will celebrate turning 30 from tomorrow on ITV at 10.30am. This Morning – 30 Unforgettable Years is on ITV, Tue, 7.30pm.