After dropping major hints towards the end of 2019 that he wants a career change, Eamonn Holmes has made his intentions clear. ‘I’d love to retire,’ he said.
Wishing to spend more time with wife Ruth Langsford, he added, ‘My father was dead at 64. It makes you feel you’ve only got four years left. I don’t want to die on the A3 travelling to work… I want to experience a life with Ruth.’
It looks like turning 60 in December has reminded him how precious time is, despite working with wife Ruth, who will also turn 60 in March. And following Ruth reportedly making an official complaint over Phillip Schofield’s conduct after he cut off the Loose Women host during a live segment, we wonder whether this is the beginning of the end – a desire to escape the ‘toxic’ studio environment in favour of a more peaceful life…
It’s no secret that Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield are considered the faces of This Morning – with their on-screen antics and the annual National Television Award [NTA] wins coming off the back of their ability to pull in the viewers, which regularly sees them hog the mic during the awards speech ‘thank yous’.
You could forgive Eamonn and Ruth for feeling frustrated when, despite calls from viewers to see them appear as often as Holly and Phil as hosts of the ITV show, they’re kept to their regular Friday and Sunday slot, while original hosts Richard and Judy are offered a deal to return to the sofa.
SEMRush, which collects info from social media, released a snapshot of data over two-weeks worth of November shows, with Eamonn and Ruth having the highest positive comments – 1,625 – after hosting their Friday and Sunday show, compared with 948 for Holly and Phil after their Monday to Thursday slot.
And even at the start of 2020, following the schedule shake-up at ITV which saw Good Morning Britain and This Morning extended by 30 minutes, fans want to see them more. Viewers were delighted the pair had unexpectedly been drafted in one Thursday too – covering for Phil and Holly who were still on their holidays. One fan wrote, ‘Wish you both were on more often. Absolutely perfect couple… so professional.’ Another added, ‘Better than Phil and Holly any day of the week!’
Even before turning 60, Eamonn made no secret of wanting to go back to his roots. Before racking up an impressive 27 years of early mornings cooped up in a studio hosting breakfast TV, Eamonn embraced the outdoors as a rural reporter. ‘Think I want go back to farming reporting,’ he admitted as he reposted a tweet about UTV, which is on air in Northern Ireland, after they announced they were celebrating 60 years of broadcasting.
He explained, ‘My first TV job in 1980, 40 years ago next year. Always had an affinity with rural matters ever since. Need to get back out there and get the smell of manure up my nostrils again. Thank you @utv it’s been a beautiful journey.’
And our source tells us he finally wants to enjoy the life he’s worked so hard for. ‘Eamonn has worked tirelessly all his life and has been incredibly successful but it gets to a point when even he would like to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He has nothing to prove and he wants to spend time as a family doing things that they want to do, when they want to do it.’
But with Eamonn taking on more projects – including his football podcast A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers – will stepping away from This Morning lighten his load? Our insider added, ‘It won’t be easy for him because he’s lived and breathed work for more years than he hasn’t but at some point it’s time to hang your presenting mic up. The point where he really looks at his workload and decides what he does and doesn’t want to do. I think Eamonn likes the idea of taking things a bit easier.’
And Ruth admitted in an interview last month that she’d like to work less, too. ‘I think of working a little bit less but I’d not ever think about not working or doing something, because I love what I do.’
Ruth has openly spoken about her daily struggles, grieving over the loss of her sister, Julia, who died suddenly last June. ‘The grief comes in waves,’ she said. ‘There are times I allow myself to cry and then there are times when I go, “Right, I’m not crying now because I’ve got to go to work.”’ While in November, Eamonn lost his broadcasting inspiration, tweeting, ‘#RIPGay Byrne… Irish legend talk show king. The broadcaster I always wanted to be. For the final time, goodnight.’
Could their losses put everything else in their lives into perspective?