As you've already seen, last week I was invited down by the wonderful Ruth Langsford to soak up the lifestyle of being behind the scenes at ITV 'This Morning'. Ruth has always captivated me on the show, and more so in person; she is warm, bubbly, approachable and of course, a woman who has successfully achieved a great career and built a loving family. So, after the madness of the show finishes, Ruth and I curl up on the iconic red sofas to have a bit of a chin wag over coffee. Here's what she had to say:
Ruth, your career started as a Newscaster and Continuity Announcer, but how did you land these roles in the first place?
I was working behind the scenes, for ITV regional station TSW in the South West - I was quite happy working behind the scenes, I wanted to be a Floor Manager. I had no aspirations to be actually on TV. I worked alongside the Continuity Announcers, working in control room with their timings and then one day the Boss who hired and fired Presenters said he needed someone to cover for holiday and just wondered if I'd like to give it a try. It was a fairytale story really! I was like "me, what me???" (imagine here Ruth looking around to see if he accidentally meant the person behind her!) He said he thought I'd be good at it. I was so nervous as you can imagine (at the tender age of 22) but then I thought, what have I got to lose? If I'm bad, it will be embarrassing for 5 minutes or so then everyone will move on. And if not, who knows what doors it will open up? So I had an audition and then they gave me the job. It wasn't scripted, no auto-que just 'you and the camera', so it was the best training to be a Presenter!
How did you find being a Presenter once offered the position?
I obviously loved it. I then went onto 6 clock show and the main news and the career just went on from there really. I am very lucky having worked with very experienced people who nurtured me and helped me along the way. I wasn't very good when I started. I look back and think God what was I like! Everyone in the West country watched my career, I was sort of practising on air! And people would stop me and say how well I was progressing, it was lovely. I have loved all of it. I love coming to work. I am very lucky with that. I can't imagine getting up every day and not loving what you do.
I'm dying to know...what is it like being a host on TV show Loose Women?
I love Loose Women, I was a part of the very first series when it started so I have a great affection for the show. It has such great dynamics, always different every day and different personalities which is why it works so well! The danger of that show is that sometimes you can even forget you're on TV! It is just like sitting with your friends chatting over a glass of wine. What is also great, is that people see you in a different role. Sometimes people forget I was a Presenter before I met Eamonn, so I like that Loose Women can still show that I can work on my own - this is what I've always done.
Ah yes, let's get to Mr. Holmes! When and where did you meet Eamonn?
Through a friend of mine, he was working on GMTV (as was she) and she had been invited to a work dinner party. She asked me to come and I said yes. We were getting ready and I said to my friend do we need to get a cab and she said oh no, Eamonn is coming to give us a lift. I was like, "Eamonn Holmes? From the show?!" I was quite shocked and unprepared for that! So, as she was getting ready and I was finished, she said I had to go outside to wait for him because he doesn't know where it is. So, there I was waiting on the street corner, and of course ever since Eamonn will always tells the story of the fact he picked me up on a street corner!! But it's true he did. And he says when he first saw he thought wow (which is so adorable!) and we went from there really. He was so lovely, so caring. Made me feel welcome in the conversation that night, I remember because of course it was a lot of their work people so he made sure he spoke to me and I didn't feel left out. But it was 3 years since then before we actually got together.
What a sweet story! You two present 'This Morning' together every Friday, is it a bit weird working alongside your husband?
Mostly, it's great, I can separate Eamonn the 'husband' and the 'Broadcaster'. Even if I wasn't married to him I'd love to work with him, I love his style of presenting (its not my style) he's different and exciting and thus it's mainly a great experience. We trust each other 100% so in interviews I know what makes him laugh and what embarrasses him too, it's an unspoken thing that we can pull each other through. Like if he gets embarrassed about sex for example, I'll take over from it. Or he'll take the lead if it is a subject too close to home for me; unspoken dynamics.
But...surely it must get a bit much sometimes? God if I had to work next to my fella, I'd kill him by the end of the week!
Obviously, we do have disagreements as we're husband and wife, like today for example he told me I'm scared of ghosts (live on air) and I was like "what are you taking about? I'm not!" We do bicker, I say it's more banter, but it is real and that, I think, is what people like. People always comment 'oh that's like me and my boyfriend, me and my husband are just like you two etc', they can see that is what we're like in real life. Which is why it works. We ask everyone else to come onto the show and talk about their lives, phone in, email and text their opinions etc so as a Presenter, you have to be prepared to give away parts of your life too...we do get quite involved in the programme.
You definitely have been involved in the programme in every way possible, having been with 'This Morning' since 2000. 12 years! I take it you really like the show!
Yes! I've been here since 2000, on and off, I went off to have Jack, then came back, which is a great thing to be able to do. That happens a lot here, people go off to start a family or branch out, then come back. It's different every day, you don't know what they're going to cook, what guests we'll have on, what stories we'll discuss. It is almost like you're favourite magazine that they drop through the door in the morning, you love it but you never know what you're going to get. It also has a little bit of fashion, little bit of everything. We can find something interesting and great to discuss with anyone. As a Presenter you have to be very emphatic and it can change dramatically throughout the morning - one minute you're laughing with comedians and the next you're discussing a serious issue and feeling very emotional; I get very involved with the show and I love this fact.
How do you find juggling family life with your successful career?
I'm no different from any other working woman with a job and a family. I don't work all day long every day, I can get home to pick Jack up from school; like everyone we juggle it and we do our best. Jack has never known anything except that we both work and that is fine. And whenever he has a moan or a whinge about the fact I'm going to work, I say "you know that play-station game you want, if mummy didn't go to work you wouldn't be able to get that, or the drum kit you want" I don't ram it down his throat but I do make him aware, and then he's fine about it. I also think it is important to have great network of friends. I hate people thinking that because I'm on TV it is more stressful, it's not. My friend has 3 kids and full time work and I wonder how she manages gets out of the house in the morning!
And finally, as you're clearly a successful business woman and a loved face on our boxes, do you have any advice for my readers who wish to fulfil a similar career role on TV?
I do dread this question, I get many letters from young women asking for advice and I struggle to respond, there is no right answer to it. There are many media degrees out there but I didn't do one so I don't know which one is good or which one leads to the chosen job. Some people are doing well without degrees having entered a company and started at the bottom, others have got a degree and landed their dream job. I think it is a large percentage of luck. I do say don't become a presenter just to be famous, you need to target your market more and know what you want to do. There is such a wide variety in this industry for people to explore. Id say journalism is a good start though, or like you Nix an English Literature degree is equally as good. But it does depend really on what you want to do.
I'd say being persistent helps, keep sending the CV and keep phoning and emailing the desired company; if you're passionate and it is obvious you want to do it, its not easy but you have to persist. If it's your dream, always follow your dream if you can.
What a lovely thought to finish on. Always follow your dream if you can...I couldn't agree more. Make sure you tune in to 'This Morning' every Friday to watch Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes in action; they're a brilliant couple, awesome Presenters and very lovely people. Sending a big thank you to Ruth for allowing me to come down and have a glimpse into her Friday mornings...fabulous!