Richard Arnold says Good Morning Britain co-stars are ‘like family who belly laugh every day’

Just like pouring that first cup of coffee, waking up to Richard Arnold is pretty much a morning essential. From his days as a soap reporter on GMTV in the '90s to his current position of entertainment editor for Good Morning Britain, Richard is a bona fide TV legend.

This week the 52-year-old joins an elite club, celebrating an amazing 25 years on breakfast TV. “To still be here – even though I joke I’m clinging on like a cat to a curtain – is a joy. I’m a lucky boy,” he tells OK! during our exclusive shoot to celebrate the milestone.

While Richard, fondly known as Dicky by his co-stars, can’t believe his luck, anyone who’s tuned in to watch him will know why – his down-to-earth nature and funny quips have made him a favourite with both celebs and viewers.

Here, Richard opens up about his big anniversary, mingling with A-listers and why he’s intent on giving close friend Kate Garraway fashion advice when she goes to collect her MBE…

Hi Richard. Congratulations on 25 years on breakfast TV. It makes us tired just thinking about it!

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 [laughs]!” I’ve always been an early bird. Plus being down the “tinsel mines”, as we jokingly call it at GMB, is a privilege and one 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.

You first appeared on GMTV in January 1997. Do you remember it?

I had frosted tips and this bright blue Ben Sherman shirt on – I’ve always loved Gary Barlow and I was going through a particularly big Gary Barlow phase at the time – while I sat opposite Penny Smith and Matt Lorenzo talking about Coronation Street. Whenever the clip’s shown, I realise my voice has got so much deeper – it’s like they’re interviewing Tweety Pie!

What are your career highlights?

I’ve done everything from dancing with men dressed as bananas at the Blackpool Tower to being a knife-thrower’s assistant. 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, my late dad thought I’d won the World Cup. My dad and I loved those crooners of old.

Any other big star interviews that stand out?

Celine Dion and Dolly Parton are always magical. Then I’ve got two pictures in my dressing room – one is of me and Michael Bublé. We were in Florida where we had a couple of drinks in his trailer, then he invited me up on stage to play the cowbell. The other is Cher. I was on holiday in Greece and said to my friend, “I never got to interview Cher when she was in the UK promoting Mamma Mia 2.” When I got home, I had a call saying, “Can you be in LA in a couple of days to interview Cher for her album of ABBA covers?” To me, that was the mother ship. I flew to LA and had 24 hours to do the interview before coming back. It was absolutely spectacular. A similar thing happened with Mariah Carey.

What was Mariah like? A real diva?

She was great. Our very own Mr Ben Shephard had interviewed her before and told me, “She loves to be interviewed on a chaise longue.” Then my producer said, “Mariah’s people have said Mariah will be standing.” When I went into the room – with so many lights, it was like the stairway to heaven – I understood why. She was standing because she was in this fabulous fully-boned frock. She wouldn’t have been able to sit!

But the chat went well?

It turned out to be great. She loves the British accent and there wasn’t even a hint of a diva about her.

Do you ever get starstruck?

Interviewing Barbra Streisand. She was already in position and everything was lit. I sat down and we had a little bit of a preamble about her album and I made it quite clear I was a fan. Then we started the interview, but halfway through she said, “Stop!” I thought, “Oh goodness me, this has never happened before.” She then picked up a tissue, leant forward and mopped my top lip because the lights had made me break out into a bit of a sweat. All she said was, “We’ve got to take care of each other, right?” I felt like I’d been anointed by Barbra.

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What’s your most embarrassing on-screen moment?

When I got accused of breaking wind on the sofa when I really hadn’t! Ben and Susanna [Reid] corpsed so much when the sofa squeaked that I ended up going viral and being dubbed “the fart guy” in Australia and America. So I’ve broken America – but not quite as I intended!

Brilliant! You’ve also made some lifelong friends in Kate Garraway and Ben Shephard…

It’s the same with all the team now as Susanna, Charlotte [Hawkins], Laura [Tobin] and Ranvir [Singh] and I have all worked together for quite some time. 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 shared history. To get up and work the hours we do, there’s no room for egos, we just belly laugh every day. It really is a family affair.

You must be proud of Kate after it was announced she’s being honoured with an MBE…

Very proud. I’m going to have to have a strong word with her, though, to make sure she doesn’t turn up in a corsage. There was a time in the early 2000s – and I guess Sex And The City is to blame for this – where Kate would be frocked up by wardrobe, then she’d stick on a corsage. So as well as feeling enormous pride, I’ll be keeping a close eye on Kate’s clobber. I’d like to send her off in style by checking what she’s wearing.

Breakfast TV has changed a lot. Ever worried that you might need a Plan B?

There was a change of guard when they launched Daybreak, and myself and Ben weren’t part of it. I’d just turned 40 at the time and I ended up going to LBC 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.

You regularly share photos of your mum. Does she love watching you on screen?

When I first started on the telly, my mum couldn’t watch it live. She’d come downstairs and say to my dad, “What’s he said now?!” When my dad passed away four years ago I moved Mum to London so I could be closer to her. Now, even though I’m 52, she can still see what I’m wearing to school every day by turning on the TV.

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Looking ahead, what’s on the bucket list?

I’ve never had the pleasure of a sit-down interview with Bette Midler. She’s on my wish list. And I’d love to do a quiz show again.
I did one before and loved meeting everyone.

Can you ever see yourself retiring?

I will take every moment on the show as a stay of execution. I’m well looked after and if people weren’t still tuning in, I wouldn’t be there, so I’m grateful for that. As someone in the full-thrust of middle youth, I can honestly say I’m quite happy doing a job on a daily basis that I genuinely love. It’s a sheer joy.

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