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Ben Shephard and Cat Deeley talk This Morning roles

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Ben Shephard and Cat Deeley talk This Morning roles

Ben and Cat have talked about taking on hosting duties on the long-running show that is putting its past scandals behind it…

Yesterday ITV confirmed the pair were to front the series Monday to Thursday. Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary will continue to host on Fridays. The news was announced in a promo on This Morning’s social media pages, showing Ben walking down the familiar This Morning production corridor and placing a new photo of Cat on the wall, before turning to the camera as the photo comes to life – with Cat giving viewers one of her signature winks.

Ben and Cat join at a time the programme looks for stability after a couple of years of scandal after scandal concerning former hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Scofield, the latter who left following revelations of a ‘legal but unwise’ affair with a much younger man who worked on the series.

Earlier issues saw Holly and Phillip offend viewers by thinking the programme was some kind of Newsnight and worthy of queue-jumping at the late Queen Elizabeth’s lying-in-state. The programme launched in 1988 with regional news presenters Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley as hosts. Following their departure in 2001 Fern Britton and John Leslie were confirmed as the new lead stars and later Phillip Schofield joined with Holly Willoughby taking the co-host role in 2009.

What are you most looking forward to about presenting This Morning?

Ben Shephard: That is quite a question, there is so much! Not having to get up so early and to be able to have a lie in is quite high up there. But seriously it has to be the people. From the team to the guests to, of course, Cat – it’s all about the people. I’ve worked with many of the team on and off but to work with them full time is very exciting.

Cat Deeley: As I’ve previously said, This Morning is a national institution. Whenever it’s on it’s like having your friends over, funny, smart, silly, heartfelt, informative and joyful – like all the greatest friendships!

Richard and Judy, back in 1988 and as guest hosts in 2020

What does This Morning mean to you?

BS: Like so many people, This Morning is the programme I grew up watching when Richard and Judy used to host it – two icons on the daytime sofa. I first got to host the show with the lovely Fern Britton. I was a last-minute call up and I remember sitting on the bus on the way home, daydreaming about the fact I’d just hosted it and what a moment that was for me.

I vividly remember driving over Blackfriars’ Bridge, being on the top of the 63 bus and looking down at the river, daydreaming, and thinking, ‘Crikey I just hosted This Morning’. Now, here I am 20 years later and I’m going to be doing it every day.

That means a lot. I understand how important it is as a show to our viewers – they are an integral part. Every time I’ve stepped in to host the show, something extraordinary happens. The engagement from the viewers is like nothing else. Viewers watch the show in a very different way – they sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy every bit of it. They are engaged with debates, they love the cooking items, they really enjoy the human interest stories, which is a really important part of the show – it’s a very present audience.

CD: I can’t wait to be a part of the team, from the crew and producers, to the brilliant presenters. I’ve been hosting solo for the past few years and I’ve really missed that sense of camaraderie, it will be great to be a part of such an incredible team.

Have you ever worked together before? 

BS: We’ve never been lucky enough to work together. I’ve taken a lot of penalties against her husband though and he’s yet to save one! I’m a huge fan of Cat’s – I have been for many, many years – she’s clearly a brilliant broadcaster. I loved waking up to her on a Saturday morning so the chance to work together in the week is really fun.

CD: Would you believe we first met on the football pitch. It was a charity game with professional footballers and celebrities. Needless to say Ben was fairly nifty and athletic… I however, was just trying to stay upright. Strangely there was no call from Fergie!

Top: Fern Britton and John Leslie oversee proceedings. Bottom: Fern is joined by Phillip Schofield

What are you most looking forward to about working with each other?

BS: It’s always really exciting when you start working with somebody new. Cat has extraordinary experience from working in America on some incredible shows – so I’ll be getting all the inside info on how things work on the other side of the Atlantic. She’s also a mum of two young boys so I’ll be vicariously reliving my boy’s childhood through them.

CD: Ben is a true gentleman, an incredible presenter and a great journalist. No one handles live TV better; he makes it look effortless. He’s funny and whip smart, I can’t wait to go to work every day and do a job I love.

How excited are you to join the This Morning family?

BS: This Morning is my dream combination of a lie in, eating cheesecakes and working with a fantastic team! I’m really excited, I’ve loved the show for years and it feels a real privilege to be there Monday to Thursday. I adore Alison Hammond and I’ve worked with her on many occasions when we’ve been on This Morning together. I started my TV career many years ago with Dermot O’Leary on Channel 4 so it’s lovely that we’re both back as part of the same family all these years later – albeit as dads with a little less hair and more wrinkles!

CD: Nothing sets you up for the weekend quite like Alison and Dermot! I’m the dynamic duo’s biggest fan…

Phil and Holly presented This Morning together from 2009 until his departure last summer. Holly quit following a ‘stalker issue’ a few months later

Ben ponders switching GMB for This Morning…

“I’ve loved hosting Good Morning Britain over the past 10 years since it launched. When I left GMTV, I always swore I’d never go back because of the early mornings and it goes to show how wrong I was. I’m grateful that my extended GMB family is only next door so that whenever I get nostalgic, I know I’m not going to being far away. Although I’ll miss being on screen with them, my later starts mean I may be able to hang out with them all a bit more!

“One of the hardest decisions of course is knowing that my mornings with Kate, my on-screen wife of nearly 20 years, is coming to an end. Her journey has been well documented, and I think we would all agree how remarkable she has been over the last four years. I won’t miss the mess but I’ve learned so much from her, as I have from all of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside.”

This Morning airs weekdays from 10 am on ITV1, STV, STV Player and ITVX

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