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Interview: Eamonn Holmes talks TV and growing up in Belfast

Eamonn Holmes
Eamonn Holmes

NAMED the News Presenter of the Year last month, Belfast boy Eamonn Holmes is on top of his game. He talks to Claudia Redmond…

What is it about your job that you love so much?

It beats working for a living! I was always very heavily influenced by my father who was a carpet fitter. I have an appreciation of how hard people work. People often say to me: ‘Oh you work so hard you have so many hours to do’, but it is not hard to me because I love it. 

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You appeared on Family Fortunes with your brothers (right), was that fun? 

That was amazing. My mother will be able to die happy that her five boys were seen together like that. It was a great raucous day. There was a lot of banter and craic between us and a lot of rivalry. It is always lovely being with my brothers, we are all close in the way that Irish families tend to be.

You still go back to Belfast. Have you seen a lot of changes over the years?

I still have a house in Belfast. Regarding seeing changes, yes and no: I mean peace, or peace for most of the time, is the biggest change which we want. I suppose the biggest change is in the way my own children would lead their lives. My older children are 23, 21 and 19 and they would have to be reminded of what the Troubles were about or what people of my generation experienced. The influence of the church is less prevalent now, which I’m not saying is a good thing or a bad thing. I am just saying it’s what makes a difference. So the Ireland of today is very different in just 25 years than the one I knew and have grown up with.

Have you ever fancied doing a stint on RTÉ? 

Well I do work quite a lot in Ireland but in southern Ireland the art of talk and the art of chat is alive and well. People enjoy their talk shows and I think they are well catered for. It has always been a certain amount of regret that I haven’t had more of a career in the Republic of Ireland, so yes.

What is it about the Irish charm that everyone loves?

I don’t know. We probably have got the gift of the gab. We are basically nosy. In fairness I think we are less guarded and we are more open. I mean I can see that when I am present with my wife (Ruth Langsford). She is very English and we are a contrast in many ways. You can see often in the English psyche they do things in a right way and a proper way, whereas in Ireland we obey rules much less.

And talking of lovely Ruth, is it easy to work with your wife?

It is so easy it is hard. What I mean by that is we are so natural you don’t have to discuss anything or plan anything. But the difficulty with that is sometimes you can forget you are in a formal position. It is a great honour and a fantastic thing for me to work with the woman I love. And remember, she did this show before me. I was invited on.

Sky News and This Morning are so different which do you prefer?

I just prefer to do good TV. I think TV has to be accessible and I’m me no matter what I do. I don’t like the idea of highbrow and lowbrow TV. I just like good TV. Whether I am doing Sky News that message still has to be accessible. If it is not accessible no one is watching it. On This Morning it’s exactly the same; you want to make it that you are not there to do it for you. The audience changes and you have to be aware, you have to change with them and think ‘what would people want to know, what are people asking?’ I just can’t do 50 shades of grey. I would rather do 50 shades of green. You have to. You can’t do bland TV. And there is too much bland TV!

What is your favourite television programme?

Programmes like Homeland on Channel 4 or The Newsroom on Sky Atlantic. I watch Location, Location, Location, and Homes Under The Hammer. I love documentaries. I do think often that when you invest your life and time in reality programmes, it is time you never get back again. I love movies: If you watch a Western it transports you and I love that idea.

Who has been your most memorable guest over the years?

As regards the best guest there are so many to choose from. I did love interviewing Kiefer Sutherland from 24, whose father is Donald Sutherland, one of my favourite actors. Kiefer had a great interest in Ireland and he wanted to visit Belfast and had visited Dublin. After the show all he wanted to do was have a cigarette and talk to somebody and he was tremendous. I had my eldest lad with me and he just spent so much time talking to him like a mate and that was just a sign. Sometimes people who are at the top are more relaxed than people on the way up who are more sensitive and prickly. I like to enjoy what is around me and the gifts that have been bestowed upon me. I never take anything for granted and enjoy doing what I do and hope it will last for a few years yet.

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