PIERS MOR­GAN

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - PIERS MORGAN -

Holly Wil­loughby, her hus­band Dan, and their five-year- old son Harry vis­ited me in my Life Sto­ries dress­ing room at ITV Stu­dios this af­ter­noon.

Holly, who was film­ing Sur­prise Sur­prise, is heav­ily preg­nant with her third child. Dan, like me, is heav­ily preg­nant with ex­cite­ment about Arse­nal’s new sea­son. So we talked nap­pies and Chilean strik­ers for a few min­utes be­fore I be­came aware of a sud­den, par­tic­u­larly toxic smell that had per­vaded the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity.

So­cial eti­quette dic­tates that when this sit­u­a­tion arises be­tween peo­ple who are pro­fes­sional ac­quain­tances but not close friends, no­body men­tions it. So we all stood around pre­tend­ing we hadn’t no­ticed the stun­ningly re­volt­ing odour.

Know­ing I wasn’t the cul­prit, I raced to var­i­ous as­sump­tions. Had Dan con­sumed too many of the no­to­ri­ously flat­u­lence-in­duc­ing meat pies at the Emi­rates Sta­dium? Was Holly in the throes of a pre- birth crav­ing for Brussels sprouts?

Late tonight, Dan sent me a tweet that solved the mys­tery. ‘I owe you an apol­ogy, Piers. Our son farted in your dress­ing room to­day. Holly and I have only just talked about it. Sorry.’ was warm, funny and hard-work­ing. She could also be an ab­so­lute diva. I once booked her for my CNN show and she pulled out at the last minute be­cause we wouldn’t let her far less amus­ing daugh­ter be on for the whole in­ter­view, too. But that was Joan. A tena­cious, un­com­pro­mis­ing street fighter who, like Robin, made me laugh for more than 40 years. I woke up this morn­ing, checked Twit­ter and chuck­led at Ru­pert Mur­doch’s var­i­ous ob­ser­va­tions about Page Three girls and Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence. My for­mer boss’s feed is ex­actly like the man him­self – smart, provoca­tive, sur­pris­ing and of­ten very funny.

So I sent out the fol­low­ing tweet: ‘Love @ru­pert­mur­doch’s Twit­ter feed.’ I then went off to play golf with Kevin Pi­etersen. At half-way, we stopped for a quick ba­con roll, I turned on my phone, checked Twit­ter again – and froze in hor­ror.

Mur­doch had re­sponded by sneer­ing: ‘Piers Mor­gan seems un­em­ployed after fail­ing to at­tract an au­di­ence in US. Seemed out of place. Once tal­ented, now safe to ig­nore.’ I’d been un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously trashed by the most pow­er­ful man in world me­dia.

Pi­etersen no­ticed my angst-rid­den face. ‘You OK buddy?’ ‘No. Ru­pert Mur­doch’s gone to war on me.’ My first in­cli­na­tion was to re­turn fire with fire, as it al­ways is when peo­ple take me on. But KP stopped me as my fin­ger was about to press ‘Send’ on a suit­ably vit­ri­olic re­tort.

‘DON’T do that! You start a feud with Ru­pert Mur­doch and there’ll only be one win­ner. He ob­vi­ously thought you were tak­ing the mickey. I bet he’ll soon re­alise you weren’t and with­draw what he said.’

I hes­i­tated, then pressed ‘Can­cel’ and emailed a cou­ple of friends who have Mur­doch’s ear to ex­plain that when I said I loved his Twit­ter feed, I meant it – and could they please re­lay this clar­i­fi­ca­tion as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

For the sec­ond half of the golf match, I felt like a Death Row in­mate wait­ing ei­ther for a last- minute Pres­i­den­tial par­don or im­mi­nent ex­e­cu­tion. Fi­nally, sev­eral hours after we fin­ished, Mur­doch tweeted again: ‘Did not mean to hurt Piers Mor­gan. Piers a friend and a legend.’ Phew. I’d gone from be­ing an un­em­ploy­able has- been to a legend in the space of one a f t er noon. A nd Kevin Pi­etersen, sup­pos­edly the worst team player in world sport, had saved my sorry l it t le a*** f rom almost cer­tain ca­reer oblit­er­a­tion. Os­car Pis­to­rius was found guilty of ‘cul­pa­ble homi­cide’ to­day after shoot­ing dead his girl­friend Reeva Steenkamp.

I was one of the last peo­ple to in­ter­view Pis­to­rius, in New York a few weeks be­fore the in­ci­dent.

He spoke ex­cit­edly about some­one he’d started see­ing in South Africa. ‘She’s a great girl and we’re just tak­ing life as it comes.’

I feel desperately sorry for Reeva and her fam­ily. I also feel sad that such an in­spi­ra­tional ath­lete self­im­ploded in such a hideous way.

Only Pis­to­rius re­ally knows what mo­ti­vated him to pull that trig­ger. But one thing’s cer­tain – if there had been no guns in his house that night, Reeva would prob­a­bly still be alive.

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