Eamonn Holmes

Eamonn HolmesBritain's longest serving breakfast TV host tells Cara Kennedy about his impressive career, what it's like to work with your other half and why he decided to shape up on television

Britain's longest serving breakfast TV host tells Cara Kennedy about his impressive career, what it's like to work with your other half and why he decided to shape up on television

It is highly unlikely that you have not woken up to Eamonn Holmes at some point in your life, as he is the country's longest serving host of breakfast television. Having launched GMTV on the 1st of January 1993, the Northern Irishman presented the show for 13 years - which practically equates to a lifetime in the fickle world of television - before leaving to become the anchor for Sky News Sunrise, which airs every weekday from 6 to 9am.

But thanks to his huge popularity and versatile presenting skills, his working week does not stop there. Every Friday he co-presents This Morning with his real-life partner, Ruth Langsford, presents a radio programme on Five Live and writes a regular newspaper column. Most recently he has been taking part in The Feelgood Factor, a new show on ITV1 which focuses on getting healthy - and unfortunately for Eamonn losing weight. We caught up with the very funny and charismatic character during a visit to Scotland and found out why he had decided to shape up on national TV, what it's like working with your other half and why Northern Ireland will always be home.

You are a very familiar face on our TV screens. What is an average working day like for you?

Let's take yesterday as an example. I did Sky News Sunrise from 6 to 9am so I got up at four in the morning. Afterwards I came rushing home where I wrote my newspaper column. I then wrote a speech and routine for an awards ceremony I was presenting. I then fitted in a physio appointment because I've hurt my knee doing The Feelgood Factor. I got my dinner suit on and headed to the awards ceremony in London. I then headed back home to Surrey and went to bed. I got up this morning, did This Morning with Ruth where I met Lionel Richie - it's an unreal life I tell you - I also met Ruth Jones from Gavin & Stacey and Jason Donovan. Then I got on a plane to Glasgow and now I'm talking to you!

You must be shattered!

I am. I'm actually 23 years of age but I'm so tired that I look 49! [Laughs] I'm always busy but the alternative is not worth considering as being in demand is much better than not being in demand.

You have worked in breakfast television for years - do those early rises get any easier?

No they genuinely don't. It's not normal and the more research I do into it the more I realise how bad it is for you. I used to permanently survive on roughly four hours of sleep but as part of The Feelgood Factor I'm trying to get a good seven or so hours. I've been doing that regularly and I've found it's helped me lose weight. My body feels much more regenerated and I am much more capable of coping with cravings and hunger the next day.

Tell us a bit more about The Feelgood Factor. What is the idea behind it?

The Feelgood Factor is a wake up call for all of us and is all about getting healthy. There was a story in the news recently about fire crews being called out once a day to bring people to hospital because ambulance crews just can't lift them so I think, as a nation, we've got to do something about it. We've got to look after ourselves. It's not for the government to do it; although that said I do think we need better legislation for food manufacturers. I think we deserve to know more about what is in food products and that food packaging should be written in plain English. Like, 'In this box there are 200 calories.' Not, 'There are 200 calories per serving portion of 500mg', meaning that you have to do some sort of incredible mathematical equation that I just can't do! I think we all just want the truth.

Why did you decide to do it?

I am a complete rarity on TV as there are no overweight presenters. Well not since Fern Britton sold out by getting a gastric band! [Laughs] That might not look good in print! [laughs harder!] But she did leave our exclusive club! On TV I'm a bit of a freak show but in real life I'm not. I go to a football match and one in every five guys looks like me - in fact I look quite slim compared to some of them! It's quite scary and it's a big problem for the nation.

How are you getting on?

I wouldn't say I'm enjoying it but I wouldn't say that I'm not enjoying it! The pain factor has been much less than I thought it would be and has been outweighed by the feel-good factor. I feel this is for life. I'm 50 at the end of the year and I want to look and feel better when I turn it. I used to not have a suit that fitted me because I was too big for them, now I don't have a suit that fits me because I'm too small for them! I'm 24 pounds down from Christmas and I just want to keep on going.

Is it a bit daunting doing all this on national TV?

Oh yes, I didn't want to do it. I was actually quite insulted when they first asked me - and then I realised there were no other fat git presenters on TV!

A lot of men just don't pay attention to their health and weight - why do you think that is?

Eamonn HolmesI don't think that they don't pay attention, I just think it's that they often don't have any support. Women have support systems; women can go to other women and say, 'Let's go to Weight Watchers together', or 'We'll cut out that wine and see the difference it makes.' Men slap each other's bellies and say things like, 'You're fair putting on the beef!' They don't talk about it so men can actually feel very alone and very vulnerable when it comes to their weight. Ruth has been the most incredible rock for me. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you have that support from someone who loves you, you can do anything.

You present This Morning with Ruth every Friday. What is it like working with your other half?

The lovely thing about Ruth is that whatever domestics are going on, whatever rows we have, I can always get around her by making her laugh. She always says to me, 'It's a good job you can!'

So has she been really supportive of your weight loss programme?

It was Ruth that convinced me to do it and she has been absolutely tremendous. She prepares a packed lunchbox for me everyday so between six in the morning and six at night if it is not in there, I don't eat it!

So has she been following your healthy eating programme too?

The thing with Ruth is that, like a lot of women, she tries really hard to look after herself and is permanently doing this and that but wine will suddenly be vicious to her and make her bloat and the weight goes on quite easily for her. Whenever she relaxes for a week, she finds that all her hard work from the previous month goes down the drain. So she's no different to any other woman but she's so dedicated. You know she and I are too old to be looking for perfection; we're not looking for that, I'm just looking for respectability!

You also present your own show on BBC Radio Five Live. Do you have a preference between TV and radio?

My terrible downfall is that I like lots of things. I like sport, I like news, I like entertainment, I like quiz shows - I'm just lucky that I'm one of the only presenters that's allowed to do all these things.
Some people in the business see that as a strength, others see it as a weakness because you don't specialise in anything. But for me it's lovely to go to work and enjoy it and have an enthusiasm for it as that beats working for a living!

You are in Scotland promoting your home country of Northern Ireland. Does your Northern Irish heritage mean a lot to you?

Oh gosh yeah! We're funny creatures us Northern Irish. I suppose to everyone outside of Northern Ireland you are just 'Irish' but to be Northern Irish, it means something. I have no doubts or qualms that I am a Northern Irishman. Ruth would often get offended as I would say things in interviews like, 'I want to go home more.' Or, 'I'm going home at the weekend,' and she would say, 'What are you talking about 'home' for? This is home.' But to me Surrey will never be home. Surrey is just a place I live because I have to work in London. That is clear cut to me.

Would you like to move back?

I still have a house there so I never feel I've moved away. My three children from my first marriage go to school there, one goes to university there so from that point of view I can't see anywhere else I would like to be when this business gives me up - apart from perhaps in some sort of close proximity to Old Trafford!

Do you visit Scotland often?

I'm always up in Scotland. We have a number of very good friends who live up Scotland - so we're never out of the bloody place! Everybody is very polite in Scotland; I always find that. They always call me 'Mr Holmes'. I say to them, 'What are you calling me Mr Holmes for? Do I suddenly look old?' After all, I'm only 23!

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