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I TALK TO Eamonn Holmes OBE

I caught up with the legendary broadcaster ahead of the second series of Do The Right Thing with Eamonn and Ruth on which returns in a new Sunday night slot on Channel 5, and this time it's live!

Consumer entertainment show Do The Right Thing, fronted by telly favourites Eamonn Holmes OBE and Ruth Langsford, launched on Channel 5 in March 2018 and celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things, the right things. It also shines a spotlight onto those companies and organisations who are doing the wrong thing.

Roving reporter Michael Underwood will once again be returning to the show and in place of Roman Kemp and Ann Widdecombe who took part in the first series, will be comedian Stephen Bailey and Dame Esther Rantzen!

Esther is best-known for founding the charity ChildLine and hosting That's Life! on the BBC for 21 years, before the series sadly ended in 1994.

Ahead of the series returning, I caught up with Eamonn shortly after he finished hosting ITV's This Morning to find more about Do The Right Thing and he discussed the secret to his 38 years in television and reveals the one thing he'd love to add to his TV CV.

First things first, Happy New Year! Any New Year's resolutions?

Happy New Year to you also. Yes, I'm very good at New Year resolutions. I just do things that are achievable. You'll never hear me say I'm going to lose two stone or something. You give yourself things that are achievable, so for me it'll be drinking more water and feeling more sunlight on my face.

For anyone who didn't watch the first series, how would you describe Do The Right Thing?

The show is something very new, very different but very familiar. It's a lovely combination of information, education and entertainment. A real people show.

We do all this campaigning on behalf of people with no voice. We right wrongs. We do as it says in the title, the right thing. Not only do we do all that but we're going to be doing it live and in a theatre.

Looking back, did you enjoy recording the first series?

Very much so. Every programme that we finished, I never came away thinking "Well that was pretty ordinary" or whatever. I thought, as a presenter, to be involved in television that makes a difference, to be involved in something that was life affirming - whether it was medical, or from a social point of view or righting a wrong against a council or debt collector, or just making someone happy - was wonderful.

Bringing tears to their eyes for the right reasons, it was just a feeling that I've never had before in my 38 years on television. I just loved being involved in it and for that we have to thank our Executive Producer Richard Woolfe.

It's his vision. I know how to do a story, I know how to do theatre in a programme, there are lots of things I know how to do but what Richard does, is he just does the extra. The bits that you don't think of. He just makes factual stories into the most wonderful, entertaining movies basically.

It's then that you realise this programme is for everyone across the range. All colours, creeds, races, societies, age groups - whether you're young or whether you're old, you will want to buy in to Do The Right Thing.

The big thing for us is to be found and discovered, for people to know that we're actually there Elliot! That's the thing. People think they know what Channel 5 is all about, but they don't really until they see what we're doing and the way that we do it.

You're going out live this year. What do you think that will add to the show?

Well I think there will be that edginess to it, an air of anticipation or excitement as anything can happen. Often we won't know what's going to happen next because it depends on the reaction of people.

Will they be glad with the outcome? Or will they not be glad? We also do surprise reunions and we don't know how people are going to react to that.

It's nerve-wracking for all of us, but it's like going to the gym, you think "Oh, what's going to happen?" but when you do it you come away thinking "Oh I'm glad I did that."

Yourself and Ruth are masters at live television, do you still get nervous?

No. I never get nervous. I was nervous before the very first programme I ever did which was Farming Ulster, for Ulster Television. The guy who was presenting got sacked on the spot by the producer and I was sat on the sidelines thinking "Oh my God this is awful The brutal world of TV."

Then the producer said to me, "Young Holmes! Will you get a tie, have you got a jacket?" I said "Yes" he said "Go and put them on" I said "Why?" he said "Because you're presenting this programme!"

So I presented this programme and I swear to you, my heart was beating so lively that I couldn't hear what I was saying. I actually couldn't hear the words that I was reading off the autocue.

Really after that, it's just been such a huge privilege to do what I do. There's lots of things that make me nervous in life, but TV isn't one of them. And really from the point of view that I could be doing a real job for a living and I'm not.

I'm doing the most amazing thing. I work on Do The Right Thing where we can change people's lives who are doing good. We're a bit like superheroes. What is there not to like about that?

It's not about me! That's the whole thing, I don't really think of this as 'The Eamonn Holmes Show' it's not, the show belongs to lovely, deserving, real people.

Has this show restored your faith in human nature?

Oh absolutely it has! I work on Talk Radio and on current affairs programmes and I listen to people arguing politically about Brexit or all sorts of horrible situations, about terrorism, or immigration - and really, if you have a diet of news and current affairs, you think that the world has gone to pot. That everyone hates each other and that most people aren't very nice.

Then I worked on Do The Right Thing and you see people who want to do the best they can for their neighbours, for their family, for their community, for society and that's truly truly uplifting.

What can you tell us about what's in store for the new series?

Well, we've got three massive life-changing surprises, which if you stay tuned you'll see in our run of six that are coming up.

What I can say, is that we will be doing the right thing and surprising one family whose Christmas was ruined by the chaos at Gatwick as a result of the drones. We only confirmed that an hour ago and that will be happening live on the show and is the first of three huge surprises coming up in the series.

The media in general only peddles negativity, and the drama and nastiness in the world. Which is where this show stands out. There's just the most incredible feel-good factor.

If you watched the movie It's A Wonderful Life over Christmas, the James Stewart classic, I think for the next six weeks we continue along the same lines. In the show we are like guardian angels who come down and look after people, and it's not really us who are the angels, we highlight the other people who are doing that job.

Esther Rantzen joins the show this series, you must be please with that booking?

Well you see, from my point of view, as a 13/14-year-old viewer of television I was watching the best, forgetting the rest and thinking "I would love to do that one day". So not only was she an icon to me, she was an inspiration to me.

She's so well-known for crusading that I think we're serving notice on a lot of people and we're saying "We've got Esther Rantzen as part of our team so I think you better watch out, because you know what she's capable of." She changes things.

And Michael Underwood is back. What will he be doing?

Well he's going to get out there and be our roving reporter and will also be in the studio. He's a lovely lad. I get on with him very well and we're all able to sit there as a team and all have things to do.

I'll also go out and be involved in one story, whilst he's out on another. We have to really thank Michael because geographical restrictions mean that Ruth and I, our time is curtailed in terms of how far north, south, east or west we can go, but Michael will be there to get to all the places that we can't reach.

What do you think the show's appeal is?

You could say, it's slightly old-fashioned television. And I say that in a way that's complimentary. So much TV is cheap, cuts corners and just doesn't do things because their budgets won't stretch to it - even though our budgets are still stretched - I just think that we're evoking memories from the seventies and eighties and delivering family entertainment.

That's not to say it's only for old or middle-aged people, or even just for young people, it's for all those people. Nowadays people want to put us into pockets and talk about demographics. When I was a kid, I wasn't aware of demographics. I watched everything!

There were only three, maybe four channels and you watched everything. I watched everything from Horizon to Dad's Army. I didn't look at Dad's Army and go "That's not for me, that's only for middle-aged people who remember the Second World War" - you watched it because it was funny, it was just good.

Good TV is good TV. I just don't like this idea of putting age restrictions on it.

I said it at the time, but I'll say it again. Congratulations on your OBE!

Thank you my friend, and a lot of that has to do with the stuff I did very early in my life, I'm the longest serving breakfast anchor there's been in this country which is amazing and an amazing privilege as well.

What do you think the secret has been to your success and longevity in television?

(Laughs) I tell you what Elliot, I'd like to be able to say it was talent, or it was easy or whatever. It's none of those things. It's luck. That's a big component in it and I'm the first to recognise that. I think the dividing line between someone that's very very good and someone who's not very good is thin.

A lot of TV depends, not on you being good, but people in authority thinking you're good. So sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know. I've never acquainted that with myself, but for myself I think it's been being able to reinvent myself all the time.

I started out as a farming reporter, then I became a sports reporter, then a telly news reporter, then I went back to sport, I then did daytime TV which I've become associated with - I've done quiz shows, game shows, I've done documentaries, I've done massive live OB events, breakfast television, evening television, you name it I've done it.

For me, the whole thing has been to not be put in a box. Maybe if I had just concentrated on sport I would be today's Gary Linekar or Desmond Lynam which I would quite like to be, but I didn't concentrate on sport.

A lot of Execs like to put you in a box, you do sport or you don't do sport, you can't do something else. Well I want to do other things! There are so many other things I'd like to do. I see all TV as the same. Sport is like politics, politics is like kids programmes, kids programmes are like entertainment programmes and so it goes on.

But also it has to depend on the public liking you. If there's more people who like you rather than dislike you, you will survive, and if you're not too expensive! The thing for me is that I totally understand what I do, I have so much enthusiasm for what I do and come the day that you don't have that enthusiasm - I'm sitting with Richard now and I can't wait to get into the scripts and I can't wait to see what we're going to be doing.

I genuinely believe that I am blessed to have this as a job which has somehow turned into a career. I'm not sure it's a career, I think it's a sequence of jobs, but it's lasted 38 years.

Things change as you go along, you change, the business changes and I think as long as you keep ducking and diving, not being caught out, I hope to get away with it for another couple of years!

Is there anything left that you'd like to achieve after 38 years in television?

Yes. I'd like to bring back This Is Your Life. I really think it has my name written all over it. It's a good example of old-fashioned TV and I was named after Eamonn Andrews, the best-known presenter of it."

I just sort of think, if you don't ask, you don't get. I think there's a reluctance in TV to do expensive programming. This Is Your Life would be an expensive programme, but I would genuinely like to do an iconic programme like that. Or even Who Wants to be a Millionaire? - those sort of programmes.

Do The Right Thing with Eamonn and Ruth airs Sundays at 9pm on Channel 5


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