Original hosts Richard and Judy return to guest present This Morning on Friday 25th October.
Richard and Judy on This Morning in 1996.
This Morning marks another year on-air with a ‘very ordinary’ episode tomorrow.
The anniversary, thirty-one years of the show, however, won’t pass without something special and this year its the return of original hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan – who are to present the entire programme for the first time since 2001.
Richard and Judy launched This Morning from Granada Television’s dockside studio in Liverpool back in October 1988 and while there had been daytime programming on ITV in the 1950s – soon to disappear for 30 years – nothing had ever quite been like This Morning before. The married Richard and Judy, who had joined the show from regional news in the North West, were noted as being one of the main reasons viewers watched in the early days.
However, by the time, the couple decided to quit ITV for Channel 4 in 2001 the show had made itself the household name. Disagreements with ITV bosses at the time allegedly saw Richard and Judy depart for a teatime chat show on the rival channel, and rather than present the last Friday edition of the series – as they always had – top brass sent the pair packing on the Thursday episode, however since then ITV management has changed, and Richard and Judy have been back to the show several times as guests, while Richard also co-hosted for part of a programme while regular Friday host Eammon Holmes was stuck in traffic.
So now, eighteen years after their last Thursday episode Richard and Judy finally get to do their Friday edition…
Are you excited to return to guest host This Morning – what are you most looking forward to?
We’re hugely looking forward to this. Probably the best moment will be when the opening music finishes, the red ‘live’ light glows – and you’re on! It’s the lift-off moment, always deeply exciting. It should be huge fun. Of course, we carried on hosting together for eight years on our Channel 4 live teatime show, so it doesn’t feel that long ago we were on TV together.
Any nerves about returning? Particularly you, Judy, having been away from telly for so long?
Nope. We’re doing it purely for fun and because the viewers asked us to. So no nerves at all because there’s no agenda!
How do you think This Morning viewers remember you?
That married couple on telly.
What was the best thing about working on This Morning?
Knowing, almost from the start, that this would be a ground-breaking concept: the beginning of US-style daytime programming in the UK. Granada Television gave us massive backing: there was real ambition to make it a success. We had a great launch team, great launch editor and total self-belief. So it worked. It was so important to get it right. If we’d screwed it up, that kind of daytime TV would have gone back into the fridge for years.
What are your best and worst memories from presenting the show?
Best: George Michael phoning into our Christmas appeal and pledging £50,000. He came round to ours for lunch that Sunday and it was the beginning of a great friendship. As well as interviewing Miss Piggy and Margaret Thatcher, plus working with the lovely Denise Robertson (agony aunt) and Dr. Chris Steele (GP).
Worst: Getting stuck in fog on the M62 on the drive from our home in Manchester to the studios in Liverpool. It was always happening and sometimes we only made it on air by the skin of our teeth. Beyond stressful.
In the beginning, Richard and Judy at the Liverpool dock studio of This Morning in 1990.
What do you think is the secret to This Morning’s success? Why has it stood the test of time?
Every day is different. No two shows are the same. And CRUCIALLY, they’re LIVE. Anything can happen.
Do you regret leaving when you did?
Nope. We’d done 13 years, eight in Liverpool and seven in London, and you have to know when to call it a day. Also the Channel 4 evening show sounded very different and a fresh challenge. We went on to host that teatime show for eight years, so it was a good and happy move.
Do you still watch This Morning?
Sure, when we’re around. Usually when there’s a headline-making interview scheduled. It’s great to see This Morning still pulling off exclusives.
Does this mark the start of a Richard and Judy comeback?
Nope! Like we said, there’s no agenda here – ITV asked us to do a show, we thought ‘what the hell, why not’ and it’s as simple as that.
What treats are you planning for your morning at the helm?
We’re treating it as a totally normal Friday show. No look backs down memory lane, no cheesy compilations. We’ll just take the day as it comes, exactly as we used to.
Who are you looking forward most to seeing?
Tim the floor manager. He’s still on the show despite once throwing a book at me (Richard) and hitting me square on the nose. I want him to chuck me another this time to see if I can catch it properly!
Richard and Judy became popular personalities on Granada Reports in the North West.
What do your children think about you returning to present? Will they be tuning in or even appearing on the show perhaps?
They think it’s great but they’ll probably watch on catch-up!
If you could interview anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. The reasons are pretty obvious!!
You’ve been married for 33 years, what’s your secret?
Luck. Luck in finding each other in the first place; luck in growing roughly in the same direction since, like ivy up the same wall.
We’ve already seen you on The Circle, Richard, what other reality shows appeal to you both? Strictly? I’m A Celeb?
I think The Circle was the only reality show I can see myself doing. It was cutting edge and a huge challenge – and a huge laugh too – but neither of us are reality material. We’ll pass.
Richard – what did you learn by taking part in The Circle?
That social media is an incredibly powerful element in modern relationships. As the show’s catchphrase says, ‘anybody can be anybody’ on social media. In Japan, some couples are now marrying having conducted their entire courtship online and never meeting until their wedding day. Some discover too late they’ve been ‘catfished’ – conned into believing in a fake identity. I learned (pretending to be a 27 year old woman) that it’s surprisingly easy to do that.
Judy – what did you think of Richard’s stint on The Circle?
I think he did great and made it very watchable!