“You appreciate everything a lot more” – Zoe Ball on the joy of getting older
Julia Llewellyn Smith
For 13 years Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan hosted This Morning, until they made the shift to Channel 4 and their self-titled show. The show spawned their extremely popular book club and in 2012, Finnigan penned her first novel, Eloise, which went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller.
Here she tells us about her new book, her love for Christmas and why she’ll never go back to This Morning sofa…
I no longer watch it, and won’t appear on there to talk about my book. This isn’t a protest, it’s just a very different show than it was when we were doing it. We’d interview people about books, and you felt like there was some real interest there. I’m not sure there would be now.
I know the politics inside television are extremely dense, but it seems to me to be an extraordinary disaster of a stage in This Morning’s life that I don’t think needed to happen. Phillip [Schofield] is not a close friend but he is a friend, and I must admit I simply cannot understand why he had to go.
Finnigan can’t understand why so much was made out of Schofield and Willoughby’s friendship
A lot of discussion has been had about why the show couldn’t work because Phillip and Holly [Willoughby] weren’t good friends anymore. I couldn’t understand what I always thought was this unhealthy obsession with Holly and Phillip being best friends – therefore for the programme to work they had to be so close.
Programmes and presenters don’t work like that… We were married and so supposed to be good friends. I just find the whole thing a great shame and incredibly upsetting.
Being on TV was a great career but requires your entire attention the whole time. Social media wasn’t as intrusive as it is now. It was tiring enough as a job and very stressful – it must be a million times more so now. These days I just want to relax and enjoy some peace.
Now I have more time to enjoy our grandchildren. You don’t worry about them quite as much as you used to worry about your own, so you get the best of them, but the quality of love is just the same. They are a joy, full of laughter and wonder.
It’s hard work, especially when you have four children and five grandchildren. This year Richard [Madeley, her husband] and I will probably be at our home in Hampstead, London, with our daughter Chloe, granddaughter Bobo and one of my twin sons Dan and his family.
Dan’s twin brother Tom is currently living with his wife and two children in Boston in the United States, and our son Jack will be on holiday in South Africa with his in-laws.
I am utterly disorganised, but last year I got really enthusiastic and bought three wooden reindeers for the garden, wreaths and garlands, and a light-up crib. Richard felt I definitely went over the top!
Richard Madeley married Finnigan in 1986
He doesn’t need watches or shirts and when I bought him a new aftershave to replace his Sauvage by Dior, he wouldn’t use it. If I want anything like a new bag, I usually buy it myself and put it away so he can wrap it up.
We’ve been married 37 years and marriage is hard, there is no doubt about it. But we have so many similar interests, and have always respected each other’s opinions, which is why we managed to work so well together.
We might sometimes be absolutely furious with each other and not speaking, but in the end that kind of thing doesn’t matter, especially as you get older.
South east Cornwall has a special place in Finnigan’s heart
We live in London but have had a house in [south-east] Cornwall for 25 years. What is lovely is that our children and grandchildren spend a lot of time there now. It’s much more than a holiday home.
My third novel, Roseland, is based on the same part of the Cornish coastline; Eloise was my first book set there and is particularly about maternal love and how it can transcend death.
I wanted to return and find out what happened to Eloise’s husband Jack now that he has a new bride, her twin daughters, and her best friend Cathy. As Cathy and Eloise’s family gather at the house called Roseland for Jack’s wedding, long buried secrets and resentments come to the surface.
Written by Pam Francis
Julia Llewellyn Smith