THAT’S RICH!

Ea­monn Holmes and Ruth Langs­ford on their jaw-drop­ping new se­ries about the jet set – and why they’d never want to join them

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - Kathryn Knight

‘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

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