I am ready to be the new Piers Morgan, says Richard Madeley

AFTER Piers Morgan dramatically stormed off Good Morning Britain in March, one man was waiting in the wings.

TV stalwart Richard Madeley has been a stand-in presenter on the ITV show since 2017, and is the bookies’ favourite to take over permanently.

Speaking to The Sun exclusively after his 65th birthday last week, Richard confirms our story he will be back on air next month, and believes he is a good fit to take over as Susanna Reid’s co-host full time

He said: “Good Morning Britain, it’s a good show to do. It suits me and, yeah, I think I suit it.”

We revealed ­last month how Richard had become the front-runner for the plum role, with bosses looking to extend the deal if he proves a hit

He said: “Whether I’m going to be asked to take over, I have no idea. I have had no approach at any level formally or informally.

“The phone hasn’t rung, I haven’t had a ping into my inbox.

“The bookies have me down as the front-runner and there have been opinion polls where I’ve come out reasonably well, but there’s a huge difference between that and it being a reality.

“I’ll go in, I’ll fill in, I’ll enjoy it and I hope they ask me back. But in terms of sitting in for Piers, it’s a completely open question.”

If he does get the call, ITV will need to offer good terms.

I avoid a thick head

Richard said: “My attitude is easy come, easy go.

“I don’t have a career plan. I’ve turned down a lot of stuff because I think, ‘This sounds too much like hard work’. It’s got to be fun.

“If I was 40, at some fulcrum of my career, a potential opportunity like this would mean a lot more. But I’ve been around so long.

“Judy and I did 21 years together on This Morning then on Channel 4 and you feel you haven’t got anything else to prove.”

Of the other mooted candidates — including Judge Rinder, 42, GMB veterans Ben Shephard, 46, and Adil Ray, 47 — Richard gave his backing to current fill-in host Alastair Campbell, 63, despite the ex-Labour spin doctor’s gaffe last week “announcing” the Queen’s death while talking about her late husband Prince Philip.

Richard said: “I thought he did very well.

“I think ITV are taking their time. It’s a big loss losing Piers.

“He’s a big beast to suddenly disappear from that jungle and they’ll want to be sure the permanent replacement will work.”

During his 33 years on air, the former This Morning host’s offbeat anecdotes and unfiltered enthusiasm for any given topic have made him a TV favourite.

But the prospect of losing that uniqueness and vitality after watching his ­cancer-stricken mother battle dementia before her death in 2014 is weighing heavily on him.

So much so it has prompted him to cut down on booze.

Richard, who is hosting the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Hero Awards on Thursday, tells how ­cutting his alcohol intake is one of the ways he’s trying to ward off the disease.

He said: “I try to cut down, try not to go to bed with a thick head. I drink less now than I did maybe five years ago but it was an effort.

Richard and his wife Judy Finnigan, 73, briefly quit alcohol in 2018 after a health scare left Judy 30 minutes from death.

She ­vomited blood after she had been taking ibuprofen for knee pain and had surgery to remove four ulcers above the stomach lining.

The couple, who would overindulge on occasion, now drink more responsibly — although Richard admitted they struggled to avoid ­ old habits

He said: “In the first lockdown, the temptation to pour another glass of rosé was powerful. I managed to resist it, but it wasn’t easy.

Despite his years, Richard has no plans to have Botox or cosmetic ­surgery, seeing each wrinkle as a badge of honour.

He said: “I’d feel so embarrassed to even think about going under the knife or having Botox. I would never consider doing anything other than trying to keep myself in reasonably good nick.

If I was 40,GMB job would mean more. But I’ve
been around a long time. Judy and I did 21 years on This Morning. I have nothing leftto prove

“Television is very unforgiving of extra weight. My father died when he was only 49. In no way was he obese, but he was quite flabby. So I’ve always been conscious I didn’t want to put on middle-aged spread.

“As I went through my 30s and 40s I used to think about his death a lot. ‘What if it’s genetic? What if I’m going to conk out when I’m 50?’

"I’m pleased I’ve lasted this long. None of us are getting off this planet alive.”

He and Judy will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary in November. What’s their secret?

He said: “I think it’s luck. Two ­people in a marriage, it’s like two vines planted at the foot of a wall.

I wentthrough my 30s and 40s thinking 'What if Idie at 50?' I’m pleased that I’ve lasted this long. None of us are getting out of herealive

"You start growing side by side. If you’re lucky, you continue to grow in the same direction, and there you are after 30 years.”

The family faced a low point in 2014 after Judy apologised for saying on Loose Women that footballer Ched Evans, 32, should be allowed to keep his playing career after his 2012 conviction for rape — which was subsequently quashed.

During the backlash, the couple’s daughter Chloe, 33, was subjected to online rape threats.

Now Richard — also a bestselling author — is working on “a revenge thriller” called Father’s Day.

He said: “When a troll really oversteps the mark and the police are involved, almost always that person starts crying and saying they didn’t mean it. I know the comments are coming from inadequate people. But they cause a great deal of harm.”

Nowadays, life for Richard is more tranquil, particularly when he and Judy are living at their Cornish home of 23 years.

Having become “embedded” in the community of Polperro, they were critical of celebs who fled to properties in the county at the height of the pandemic

Richard, who recently donated £10,000 ­to the Cornish Air Ambulance, said: “We were tempted to travel but stuck to the rules.

"It would have been selfish to go down possibly carrying the bug.”

  • To support Dementia Action Week, ­running until May 23, visit alzheimers. org.uk/daw, and for advice call the ­Alzheimer’s Society support line on 0333 150 345 or visit the website.

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