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A fixture on our screens for more than 20 years, Ruth Langsford’s warmth and humour have made her one of Britain’s best-loved celebrities. Along with her husband, Eamonn Holmes, she is one half of a presenting partnership we’ve all come to think of as friends.
Starting her career in local TV, Ruth is now the longest-serving female presenter on ITV’s flagship daytime programme This Morning, as well as an anchor on chat show Loose Women. And looking at those widely publicised throwback snaps of herself as a permed newbie with a clipped accent, she’s rightly pleased with how far she’s come.
“I’m very proud,” she tells us. “That young girl – look at her now. She’s 60, she’s still on the telly and still loves it. I feel really lucky.”
Ruth relishes her work, perhaps partly because she has faced so much personal tragedy. She lost her beloved dad, Dennis, to Alzheimer’s in 2012 and her sister, Julia, tragically took her own life last June.
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She’s very close to her mum Joan, but sadly Ruth hasn’t been able to hug her during the pandemic as she lives in assisted accommodation. “We have a Perspex screen between us and I have to wear a mask, gloves and an apron,” the TV presenter reveals. “She’s been amazing, but she’s of that wartime generation. She’s 88, she’s very stoic about it all. But I do miss her.”
Still, Ruth is very much of the glass half-full persuasion and she’s as chatty as you’d expect when she calls us bang on time for a catch-up to talk all things life, love and her latest clothing range with QVC, which, she assures us, is her best yet.
Before we get into hemlines and fabrics, though, we’re keen to grill Ruth on those early clips of herself and a teenage Eamonn reading the news – and we’re intrigued to know if she would’ve had the hots for him then.
“Absolutely,” she replies. “I’m looking at a picture of him on my desk here, looking all smouldery in a dinner suit. I can’t remember what it was taken for but I saw the picture and was like, ‘I want that photo. You look gorgeous.’ I definitely would’ve fancied him if I’d met him at that age and he says the same about me,” she adds. “I still do.”
It was 1997 when the two of them did come face-to-face, introduced by a mutual friend. They went on to have their son, Jack, in 2002 and were married in 2010.
Landing the Friday slot on This Morning in 2006, Ruth and Eamonn are now a presenting power couple – but it’s all down to hard graft.
“We’ve put the work in. We didn’t do a reality show and get an overnight job on the telly. We’ve come up through the ranks,” Ruth points out. “Eamonn was only 19 when he started out and he was doing the teatime news in Belfast during the Troubles. It was heavy stuff and he’s now got an OBE for services to broadcasting.”
While Ruth is plainly crazy about her 60-year-old husband, their on-screen quarrelling is legendary and she insists it’s all real. “Pretty much 99% of what you see is how we are,” she says. “We spar a lot, we’re both quite fiery characters. I always say to people, ‘We’re not arguing, we’re just having a difference of opinion.’
“We don’t argue about big stuff. It’s just silly bickering. I always have a big question mark when people say we’ve never had a cross word. I think, well either you’re both dull or one of you is conceding to the other because you don’t want the row and I would never do that.”
So how do they keep a healthy separation between their TV partnership and personal lives?
“We don’t take work home,” explains Ruth. “The only time we’ve ever discussed how we were doing an interview was when we had Hillary Clinton because it was a big one. We were sitting at the dining table with her book and papers and pens and I remember Jack walking in and saying, ‘Is everything alright?’ as he’d never seen us do that before.”
Whether it’s hard-hitting interviews with political figures or topical discussions about anything and everything, Ruth tells us she’s equally happy to wear her This Morning and Loose Women hats.
“I love them both. They’re very, very different dynamics. With Loose Women you’re never sure what you’re going to be talking about. Often the topics will come from someone coming in one morning and going, ‘You’ll never guess what happened to me yesterday.’ I love that side of it, that the show evolves from what’s happening in our own lives – and I think that’s what resonates with viewers.
“Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about Jack flying the nest,” she says of the couple’s 18-year-old son, who has just started university. His departure was obviously a huge wrench for the star who was aged 43 when she had him. Jack is her only child and Eamonn’s fourth, alongside Declan, 31, Rebecca, 29, and Niall, 27, from his first marriage to Gabrielle Holmes.
“I felt absolutely bereft the first week,” Ruth confesses. “But he’s settled really well. I think because I’ve got so much else in my life now, I love my work, I’m not rattling around the house wondering what to do with myself. But it hits me at certain moments. I forget and go to call him to dinner and then go [gasps]. Those little moments take your breath away a bit.”
But surely she’s excited about being able to spend more quality time with Eamonn without having a teenager around?
“I am looking forward to this as not just a new chapter for Jack, but for us,” she admits. “We can do our own thing now. It’s important to start thinking, ‘We need to do more stuff with just you and me now, Eamonn’, which is nice.”
Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford in hysterics as child shouts 'mummy's boobs' live on This Morning
Eamonn Holmes has fans in stitches as he smears Ruth Langsford’s face in lipstick in disastrous makeover
If they run out of conversation, Ruth certainly has enough on to keep her busy. Aside from her presenting commitments, she has her feet firmly in the fashion world and has just launched her autumn/winter collection with QVC, her third year of doing so. It’s undoubtedly a real passion project for her and she bubbles over with enthusiasm as she explains how the line has gone from strength to strength.
“I’m having the best time. I can’t believe three years has gone by in a flash. The range is just getting better and better and it’s amazing how well it’s been received. I never thought of myself as any kind of fashionista, I’ve just always liked clothes,” she continues. “But getting older you encounter more problems. It’s always, ‘That’s lovely, except I can’t breathe in it because it’s got no stretch’ or ‘That’s lovely. If only it had a sleeve.’”
With Ruth’s strong work ethic, it’s hardly a surprise to learn she insists on being involved in every aspect of the range’s creative process. “I’m very invested from the initial idea right through to bringing those clothes on air and I think it shows when people watch the programme. I know about the buttons, zips, the fabrication, because I’ve been involved every step of the way.”
When it comes to beauty, however, Ruth takes the less-is-more approach. “I don’t really leave the house without mascara, but anything else? No. You won’t find me at the make-up counters in a department store. It’s just not me.”
But fitness wise, she does try to get in her 10,000 steps a day, including walking the couple’s dog, Maggie. “Try being the operative word,” she laughs. “I do the best with what I’ve got without being obsessive. I like to eat cake. I like to drink wine. I like to have a slob out Sunday with a big roast dinner. But then I also think, ‘Come on, you need to keep moving.’ I always like to have a modicum of exercise in my life.”
Well, it’s obviously working as it’s hard to believe she hit the big 6-0 in March. How did she feel about this milestone birthday?
“I am fine about turning 60. I’ve been fine about every decade, actually,” Ruth says. “But it’s always a shock. I go, ‘I can’t be 60!’ It makes me smile because I used to talk about people who were 60 as if they were ancient and I feel quite young. I’m 60, I’m still working and I love it.”
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