Richard Arnold calls for Dame Joan Collins to host Good Morning Britain

We’ve spent 25 years watching Richard Arnold plundering what he calls the ‘tinsel mines’ for showbiz stories on breakfast TV. And when OK! caught up with him recently for a shoot and chat to celebrate that anniversary, Richard was as bubbly as ever.

But while Good Morning Britain’s entertainment editor was full of praise for his close friends on the show, he revealed a rather surprising suggestion for a new hiring for the breakfast programme – none other than Dame Joan Collins.

He mooted the bold idea when questioned about the fact that Susanna Reid hasn’t had a regular partner at the desk since the abrupt departure of Piers Morgan last year.

"Joan Collins would be an unfettered joy,” mused Richard. “I’ve had a lot of fun with the Collins sisters over the years. As always, Joan would be Joan and she speaks as she finds. She’d be great.”

And while he has the closest relationship with Kate Garraway and Ben Shephard, that doesn’t mean Richard is looking to oust any of the current crew.

"Susanna, Charlotte [Hawkins], Laura [Tobin] and Ranvir [Singh] and I have all worked together for quite some time," he said. "Kate, Ben and I just have a larger shared history.

"Those friendships mean a great deal. I always say the greatest pension you can have is the shared history you have.

"To get up and work the hours we do, there’s no room for any egos, we just belly laugh every day. We’re not just about the shiny floor and the bright lights, it really is a family affair.”

But Richard is especially close to Kate, and shared memories of his pal’s messy persona.

“I remember the first time Kate and I ever worked together on GMTV with Fiona Phillips," he said. "Fiona was very tidy and Kate much less so. Under her desk was carnage and I had to show it, so when we were on air I threw all of her bits of paper up in the air.

"Then the first time I got into her car, I thought, 'This is a skip, does she sleep in here?!' But that’s the charm of Kate and why we love her.”

While Richard feels like a fixture, he points out that his breakfast run has been interrupted, while the ITV morning programming has been through various incarnations over the years.

“There was a change of guard when they launched Daybreak, and myself and Ben weren’t part of the new generation," he explained. "I’d just turned 40 at the time and I ended up going to LBC to do radio, which has always been a big love of mine, so it worked out.

"But after a year or so, I started getting phone calls from ITV flirting with the idea of returning.

"It felt like coming back to the family, as it had been such a big chunk of my career. To have come back again, and for it to have worked, feels like a bonus round.”

And the London-based presenter admits he never takes his role for granted, continuing: “I often get asked by guests who come on GMB, 'How do you do it every day?' And I reply, 'It’s called a mortgage!'.

"I’ve always been an early bird. Also, whenever I’m doing it, I think of the jobs I had before – cutting grass for the council, or stacking shelves.

"Being down the ‘tinsel mines’, as we jokingly call it at work, is a real privilege and one that I didn’t ever expect to fall into. To still be here – even though I joke frequently that I’m clinging on like a cat to a curtain – is a joy. I’m a very lucky boy.”

And not surprisingly, after 25 years, Richard has a wealth of memorable moments to look back on.

“I’ve done everything from being in a sailor outfit and dancing with men dressed as bananas at the Blackpool Tower, to being a knife-thrower’s assistant," he said. "I’ll never forget Kate [Garraway]’s face, it was like she thought, 'He must really want this job – he’s willing to die for it!'

"Those memories are great. But when I interviewed Tony Bennett in his apartment with his little dog lapping at my feet, my late dad thought I’d won the World Cup. My dad and I loved those crooners of old.”

Interview by Rianne Ison. For more TV gossip, sign up to OK! 's daily newsletter here.

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