Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on their jaw-dropping new series about the jet set – and why they’d never want to join them
‘One family we met had four nannies for two kids’ EAMONN HOLMES
Perhaps it’s just as well that Ruth Langsford hasn’t joined the ranks of the multi-millionaire jet set. The luxury housing portfolio and the private jet she could do – but she’d have to draw the line at a superyacht. ‘I’m not good at boats, not even really glamorous boats,’ she says. ‘Just the thought of them makes my heart sink – all that bobbing about makes me really seasick.’
On the other hand her husband Eamonn Holmes has no problem with them – and he only learned of his wife’s aversion to life on the ocean wave five years ago when he decided to surprise her with a half-day boat trip during a family holiday to Turkey. ‘I hired a yacht, which I thought was such a lovely thing to do. It was a beautiful boat,’ he recalls. ‘We went out and, bless her, Ruth stuck it out for about 50 minutes with the most forced smile you’ve ever seen. We had to tell the crew to turn around. It was a case of abandon ship.’
Ruth, it turns out, is a confirmed landlubber, which means she has to battle the odd bout of queasiness during the couple’s series How The Other Half Lives. As the title suggests, in the show, back for a third run of episodes, the duo, both 57, are our guides to the world of the fabulously wealthy and there’s no shortage of floating palaces aboard which to clamber. ‘Whenever the crew say to me, “We’ve got a fantastic boat”, I shudder,’ Ruth smiles. ‘I do it, but I can’t do it for very long.’
Of course, this being serious moolah territory there are plenty of other things to gawp at, from multi-million-pound homes – ‘one for every month of the year in some instances’ as Eamonn puts it – to the art, jewellery and wine collections worth around the same as the GDP of a small country. Oh... and the staff. ‘You really need about a dozen minimum to keep things going,’ says Eamonn. ‘We met one couple in Russia who had four nannies alone for their two kids. It’s a world so far removed from anything you can imagine. These people aren’t just multi-millionaires, they’re billionaires; they couldn’t possibly spend all the money they earn. It’s coming out of the ground, it’s coal, it’s gas, it’s gold. They can’t stop earning money.’
And it’s certainly a hoot to watch what they do with it. In the first episode we’re off to Monte Carlo where Ruth and Eamonn discover what €34 million will buy you there – not much, as it turns out. Sampling the dayto-day transport of your average billionaire they take a private helicopter tour over the city, whizz round the Cote d’Azur shoreline in a speedboat then hotfoot it in their hired Maserati to the casino for some serious people-watching. ‘All these playboys come zooming up in great big Ferraris and they get out and they’re probably 60, but they’re wearing white jeans, their hair is all bouffant and they’ve got a necklace on. A guy comes and parks their car and off they go to spend millions,’ says Ruth.
Of course, it’s one thing sampling a slice of the super-rich lifestyle, but as Eamonn says, they’re observers, not participants. ‘We’re there for a few hours, then it’s back to our life,’ he says.
Still, as our glamorous cover shoot testifies, the duo can certainly pull off the billionaire vibe when they want to. Has filming not given them a hankering for a lifestyle upgrade from the home in leafy Weybridge, Surrey, they share with their 15-year-old son Jack? Not a bit of it, they insist. ‘Before filming we both thought
we’d have terrible house and car envy but it hasn’t happened,’ insists Ruth. ‘A lot of these people work incredibly hard, it’s not all come to them on a plate. At the end of the day a house is a house and a car’s a car.’
Still, she did have her head turned by a pair of diamond earrings with a multi-millionpound price tag in a Monte Carlo jewellers. ‘Usually I’d say earrings are earrings too – I wouldn’t know if they were paste or diamond. But when you see real diamond ones – millions of pounds that sparkle – I did think they were absolutely beautiful, so I understand the lure of jewellery if you have a lot of money.’
And, as Eamonn points out, at this level of spending the ends justify the means. ‘These people don’t say, “I’m going to splash out on that painting or that diamond necklace”, for them it’s an investment. We spend money, they invest money.’ What would Eamonn ‘invest’ in, then, if he suddenly found a few extra zeros added to his bank account? ‘I’d buy ten cars,’ he affirms. ‘Classic vintage cars though, something you could look at and stroke forever. Not all those low-slung things that roar and make noises.’ ‘You’d look stupid in one of them anyway,’ Ruth interrupts. ‘Like one of those playboys. That would be my dread: Eamonn zooming up in a Ferrari in white jeans with his hair spruced up.’ It seems she needn’t worry – the closest Eamonn appears to have got to a mid-life crisis is buying a ten-year package for seats at Wembley. ‘It’s the most extravagant thing I’ve ever done and it was a massive waste of money. But I couldn’t get out of it, so I resented every year I was there,’ he says. The occasional pricey handbag aside, Ruth says she’s a girl of modest means; the most money she’s ever splashed out was on a present for Eamonn – a limited-edition commemorative tome on his great passion, Manchester United. ‘It’s this huge book and it’s so heavy, I had to have a table built for it,’ she says. ‘I said thank you before asking what the hell I was supposed to do with it,’ adds Eamonn, shaking his head. ‘It took two men to lift it up the stairs. She thinks she knows me, but honestly...’ It is, of course, precisely these sorts of affectionate, exasperated exchanges that have made them such a popular presenting duo. On This Morning, where for the last 15 years the couple have been installed on the sofa on Fridays and during holiday periods, their feisty on-air disputes have proved a winning formula among viewers, and they’re no different in the flesh. ‘You keep using the word “apparently” when things are very obvious; you do it all the time,’ Eamonn chides at one point. ‘Never mind what I say, you just say your own thing and I’ll say mine,’ Ruth replies, rolling her eyes. Make no mistake though, they both clearly adore each other and their 21-year union is one of equals – and not just, as Ruth jokes, because they can both ‘be a pain in the backside’. ‘We make each other laugh, which is so important,’ she says. ‘Someone said the couple that laughs together stays together. I think there’s a lot of truth in that.’ It’s the little things too, adds Eamonn, who relates how he returned home late following a 16-hour day to find Ruth had left some freshly made pea and ham soup on the stove, despite the fact she’d had a long day too. ‘It had a note saying she’d made it so I wouldn’t eat any rubbish – she knows what I’m like. And she put a little heart after it. That was lovely,’ he says. ‘So she’d finished her own long day, and whereas any normal human being would have bought a tin, she made it. That’s her way of looking after me and loving me.’
There’s no question they both work hard: aside from their other filming commitments Ruth is lead presenter on UTV’s Loose Women three days a week and has just launched her own clothing range on QVC, presenting a show there on Thursday nights. Her alarm routinely goes off at 5.15am.
Eamonn, of course, is no stranger to the early alarm call either after 24 years on breakfast television. Last October he left his 11-year role as the anchor of Sky’s breakfast show Sunrise, but he’s barely paused for breath since and has also returned to the breakfast sofa for stints on Good Morning Britain. Some viewers even took to Twitter to beg him to return permanently. It means a 2.30am alarm call. ‘Horrific,’ he says.
Throw in the fact that 16 months ago Eamonn had a double hip operation after battling with excruciating pain for many years and it’s little wonder he describes the last year or so as ‘tumultuous. The operation brought a lot of challenges because we’ve just ploughed on at 100 miles an hour. We were straight into filming – you have to get on with it, but you see the results at the other end of the day, when your feet swell and when you’re exhausted and when medication takes its toll. So there’s been a bit of strain.’
Given this, if money were no object, would the pair give up work for, if not a life of superyachts and speedboats, then lieins and lunches? The answer, it turns out, is no. ‘If you’d asked me that before I started this series, I’d probably have told you that you wouldn’t see my a**e for dust,’ says Ruth. ‘But for most of the people we met, “retirement” is a dirty word – they see it as when your brain stops.
‘So these days I think it would be nice to find a balance. I love the idea of getting up in the morning when we want to and going somewhere for breakfast, just bumbling about. But actually I think that after a few weeks both of us would get bored.’
Eamonn, it turns out, feels exactly the same way. ‘When I was working on Sky News, everything was flat out, it was early starts and I was permanently tired so I’d have said yes, straight away,’ he admits. ‘But actually as the months have gone on I’ve found I really miss it. I need to be used, I need to be defined by what I do.’
They’re going to have to stay at the coalface a bit longer if they want to afford those vintage cars, not to mention the other thing Eamonn now has a bit of a hankering for. ‘Truthfully, I think if we had the money, we’d have a private plane,’ he says. ‘Once you’ve tasted that it’s very hard to go back.’
How The Other Half Lives returns in late June on Channel 5.
‘The couple that laughs together, stays together’ RUTH LANGSFORD
Flying high: Eamonn and Ruth on a helipad in Monte Carlo filming How The Other Half Lives