'Once, Ruth threw a turkey dinner right at me' Eamonn Holmes, 60, on dramatic Christmases with his wife/showbiz sidekick, celebrating 40 years in the biz and his bid to overthrow Ruth this festive season.
Eamonn Holmes is dressed in his radio best - a sharp black suit - but as we're chatting all things Christmas, the This Morning and talkRadio presenter points out an understated flair to his everyday outfit, inspired by one of his favourite stocking fillers.
'I didn't used to appreciate receiving socks for Christmas, but times have changed. Today I did a very controversial thing,' he jokes, lifting his trouser legs. 'I put grey ones on. You know, I might be becoming a bit more flamboyant as I get older!' We expected a pair of eye-popping patterned socks around his ankles, but Eamonn does love a laugh. Today Eamonn's in London to present his popular daytime radio show, but at his home in Surrey he's gearing up for his glitziest Christmas to date, much to the disdain of his wife Ruth - who rules the roost in the holiday season.
'I never thought 'Ruthie and I are having a conversation about our Christmas decorations,' he grins, cheekily. 'There's a lot of beige in Ruth's life. She's had her way with her yellow lights for 20 years, but it's not happening this time. I'm getting coloured lights and ornaments and gimmicks like reindeer and a snowman that waves in the garden.' that who gets dog a present, ' Those of us who tune into This Morning every Friday feel like we know Ruth and Eamonn like our own family - the pair havehere I presented the show since 2002 and don't hold back on revealing their spats and sweet moments live on air. They may argue from time to time, but it's clear Eamonn and Ruth are very much in love.
'Ruth won't take any instructions from me,' he sighs dramatically with a smirk. 'I can't offer her any advice and it's hard working with her. We are far too real for our own good and it never ceases to amaze me how many people tell us how much we're like them.' Christmas in the Holmes/Langsford household has been a source of great drama in years past, from awkward present exchanges to a turkey dinner flying across the dining room and into Eamonn's face.
'When Ruth and I first started dating she gave me 44 presents and I gave her five. She is addicted to Christmas,' he reveals. 'Then there's the year we didn't talk. I'd been busy working on GMTV and doing three quiz shows a day. Ruth told me not to worry about presents for her so I gave her an envelope of money and she threw the turkey dinner across the table and right down my front.' This year, though, it's a happier story. Eamonn's already experienced the Christmas dinner dress rehearsal (with Ruth cooking up Phil Vickery's festive recipe) and he's looking forward to a cracking week of Christmas films with dog Maggie, who gets a few pressies herself.
It's been a tough time for Ruth, who lost her big sister Julia after a long illness and has been spending some quality time with her ageing mother Joan. The celebrity couple will host Joan for Christmas this year and are happy to have their teenage son Jack at home for the holidays.
I'd be person gets the 'Traditions have changed a lot in our house. My eldest is married and the other kids have their own homes. Jack is still at home but our new baby is Maggie,' he says proudly. 'I never thought I'd be that person who gets the dog a present, but here I am. I'll be on the sofa with her watching endless movies about a single mum whose husband was killed Xmas but am' in a car crash but she moves to the Outback with her granny, meets a well-built man and falls in love just in time for Christmas. I could watch that rubbish all day.' A December baby, Eamonn turned 60 this week and was whisked away by Ruth to Vienna for a mystery weekend and found his whole family waiting for him as a birthday surprise.
'I celebrate significant birthdays throughout the year. That's my advice to people: make it your year, not just your day.' There's even more to celebrate in 2020, as Eamonn and Ruth reach their tenth wedding anniversary and he achieves an impressive 40 years in television. At 21, Eamonn was the youngest news anchor in Britain and now he's the longest-serving breakfast TV presenter in the country, having brought us daily news on Ireland's Good Evening Ulster, GMTV, Sky News Sunrise and This Morning.
'I think it's very hard to get into television, but harder to stay there,' he muses. 'TV has changed an awful lot. I honed my interview skills as a barman from the age of 14. It transformed me from a shy teenager into a confident man. People need people and I love hearing their stories.' Eamonn has interviewed some of the most famous people on the planet from Hollywood hunk George Clooney to Prince Charles and the rest of the British Royal Family. But he's yet to have a good chat with Her Majesty the Queen, who presented him with an OBE last year for his services to broadcasting.
'No one else says it so I'll say it to myself: well done Eamonn,' he beams. 'I did ask the Queen for an interview, but she gave me a funny laugh and pushed my hand back to suggest she'd finished talking. I think she wanted to get rid of the mad Irishman.' As for New Year's resolutions, Eamonn is always up for expanding his horizons. 'I want to learn something new every year. Even if there's just one thing you can improve or tweak, it's well worth doing. I like to go on a ride in life - an adventure. After all, what's life without a challenge?' ? | Fighting loneliness one pub at a time This season Eamonn and Ruth teamed up for Heineken's Brewing Good Cheer campaign, which encourages pubs to join up with local charities for free lunches and get-togethers to help locals avoid loneliness at Christmas time.
Eamonn donned a Santa suit for a special pub lunch at The Red Lion in Shepperton near their home, with Ruth playing his helpful elf sidekick, to support St Saviours food bank and Langley Place, a care home for people with dementia. Playing Santa was a good idea at the time, he says.
'I came out as a surprise but there were a lot of stairs to climb and a massive bag to carry. Respect to anybody who's been Santa in a grotto,' says the star, who had a double hip replacement in 2016. 'Loneliness is a terrible curse that afflicts people. My mother is 91, frail but sharp as a tack. Everyone she grew up with has gone. That's why I believe it's important to make new friends. People come together in a pub.
They relax, shake hands and share a drink with someone. Pubs are so important to the community.' HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR SUNDAY? | Lie in or up early? I'm up just slightly later than the larks. As you get older you don't sleep in, but you don't ever get used to waking up for morning TV.
| Porridge, fruit or Full English? All of the above. In Belfast I go to a cafe for porridge and Ulster Fry. If Ruthie loves me I get up to a magnificent breakfast.
| Eat out or entertain? We eat out a lot getting everyone together within the M25 is difficult. Mostly we meet in restaurants.
| Papers or telly? My kids - the eldest is 30 - wouldn't pick up a paper. How will you know anything in life? We get a full range of papers on a Sunday, everything there is. I watch television, but avoid anything to do with Brexit. The programmes I watch are all escapist.
| Cinema or boxset? I would love a movie night but Ruthie is always so busy. When she's not she wants to watch multiple recordings of EastEnders. She tells me to go and watch another Hitler documentary in the other room. I enjoy programmes like '10 Reasons Why The Titanic sank' or 'The Biggest Road Bridges In The World'.
| What couldn't you get through your weekend without? Manchester United. Christmas is a big time for football. This year we play Newcastle on Boxing Day at Old Trafford. I won't go but I'll watch it on the telly.
'I never thought I'd be that person who gets the dog a Xmas present, but here I am'
With George Clooney
Above: Trying to persuade the Queen to give him an interview. Right: In his younger days
Above: Collecting his OBE at the Palace with Ruth and their children, Jack and Rebecca
WORDS: KIRSTEN JONES. PICTURES: GETTY.
Right: Eamonn and Ruth at home at Christmas
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|Publication:||The People (London, England)|
|Date:||Dec 8, 2019|
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