‘I fi­nally have bal­ance in my life’

Break­fast TV pre­sen­ter Su­sanna Reid talks with Prima about ro­mance, glit­ter­balls and the world’s most an­noy­ing man

Prima (UK) - - Contents -

Su­sanna Reid talks about fam­ily, friends and work­ing with the world’s most an­noy­ing man

Jour­nal­ist, TV pre­sen­ter and for­mer Strictly Come Danc­ing fi­nal­ist, Su­sanna, 46, is sin­gle and lives in south Lon­don with her three sons, Sam, 15, Finn, 13, and Jack, 12. She cur­rently co-hosts ITV’S flag­ship break­fast show, Good Morn­ing Bri­tain, with Piers Mor­gan. This month, she also presents a doc­u­men­tary on the treat­ment of chil­dren who com­mit mur­der in Amer­ica as well as re­unit­ing with chef Matt Teb­butt to present an­other se­ries of Save Money: Good Food, the cook­ery show that shows how to feed a fam­ily on a bud­get.

A kind of magic

The chem­istry be­tween Piers and me was in­stant. He to­tally wound me up from the mo­ment he joined Good Morn­ing Bri­tain, nearly two years ago. He’s the most an­noy­ing man I’ve ever met, but I find work­ing with him ex­hil­a­rat­ing. Yes, he drives me nuts, but he also makes me laugh – and when the chips are down, and there’s a big news story break­ing or we’re do­ing a con­tro­ver­sial in­ter­view with a politi­cian, I trust him.

I think of Piers as a mini tor­nado. He loves noth­ing more than to stir up feel­ings and nig­gle away at is­sues. When he’s on to some­thing, he’s like a dog with a bone. Oth­ers might think they’ve pushed you enough, but Piers just keeps on go­ing. It’s one of the rea­sons, I’m sure, that our view­ing fig­ures just keep on go­ing up.

Be­fore work­ing with Piers, I was used to ev­ery­thing be­ing con­trolled and fil­tered. But ‘fil­ter’ and ‘Piers’ are two words that don’t go to­gether! At first, I tried to fil­ter him my­self – un­til I re­alised that there’s just no need. The au­di­ence loves or hates him (and Piers doesn’t care which) just the way he is! And you don’t want to get in the way of that.

Some break­fast shows are like a nice cup of tea in the morn­ing. Ours is like a dou­ble espresso! There’s a ten­sion and adren­a­line there, partly be­cause of our re­la­tion­ship. Peo­ple joke they watch to see if I’ll fi­nally snap, which I promise you I won’t be­cause, af­ter two years, I’ve learned to han­dle Piers just as he’s learned to han­dle me. The com­bat­ive el­e­ment of our re­la­tion­ship is def­i­nitely not staged.

It doesn’t start when the show does at 6am. It’s how we are with each other, on and off air. Even in ed­i­to­rial meet­ings, he’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re look­ing down your glasses at me like the head­mistress again.’ We don’t sit there won­der­ing how to wind each other up on screen, it hap­pens nat­u­rally.

Mov­ing to ITV has worked bril­liantly for my ca­reer and my life. I loved pre­sent­ing BBC Break­fast and I’m still good friends with ev­ery­one on the pro­gramme, but be­ing asked to launch a brand-new break­fast show for ITV was a once-in-al­ife­time op­por­tu­nity. On the per­sonal front, too, I’d spent two years with

BBC Break­fast in Sal­ford, while my kids stayed in Lon­don. I missed them and the com­mute was ex­haust­ing, es­pe­cially when I was com­bin­ing it all with Strictly Come Danc­ing. So to be of­fered the chance to work 20 min­utes from home felt like the luck­i­est thing in the world.

Love & re­la­tion­ships

My then part­ner (Do­minic Cot­ton) and I split dur­ing all the up­heavals. But we were de­ter­mined to put our chil­dren first. We’ve all seen break-ups where kids are col­lat­eral dam­age and we des­per­ately wanted to avoid that. In the end, if you want your chil­dren to

be okay, you have to be emo­tion­ally gen­er­ous to one an­other. So we steered clear of bit­ter­ness, re­sent­ment and jeal­ously. Do­minic’s a good man and to­gether we’ve man­aged to co-par­ent and re­main good friends. We worked it out and fam­ily life now feels sorted and happy.

I’m a child of di­vorce my­self. Not only did my mum and dad go through it when I was nine years old, but they also went on to di­vorce their sub­se­quent part­ners. Per­haps ex­pe­ri­enc­ing break-ups so many times in my fam­ily was a les­son in what you should and shouldn’t do.

I’m hap­pily sin­gle at the mo­ment. And though I wouldn’t be averse to meet­ing some­one new, I’m also aware that you can’t play fast and loose with your chil­dren. Mine still need me a lot and so I’m not sure I’d want all the dis­trac­tions that come with a new re­la­tion­ship.

I don’t have a ro­man­tic ‘type’. But yes, there are cer­tain re­quire­ments, aren’t there? Love, care, re­spect and trust… and, oh yes, at­trac­tion, ob­vi­ously. I love be­ing the mother of sons. And never think, ‘What if I’d had a daugh­ter?’ The way I see it, I’m just so lucky to have been able to bring three healthy, fan­tas­tic, in­tel­li­gent, end­lessly in­sight­ful peo­ple into the world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve in­ter­viewed moth­ers who’ve had a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

I filmed a new doc­u­men­tary re­cently about chil­dren and teenagers who’ve com­mit­ted mur­der in the US, where a life sen­tence, even for a child, al­ways means life. Of course you feel so much for the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies but, at the same time, see­ing the an­guish of those poor women, who, like all moth­ers, never imag­ined their chil­dren could be ca­pa­ble of mur­der, was har­row­ing. It was one of the most sen­si­tive, dif­fi­cult and trou­bling pieces of work I’ve ever done.

Ab­so­lutely fab friends

My fe­male friend­ships are vi­tal. Maybe grow­ing up with two older brothers and no sis­ters ex­plains why I’ve al­ways searched for that tight bond you get from other women. I es­pe­cially love one-on-one friend­ships rather than a big crowd of girls, and I have sev­eral key women in my life: one from school, one from univer­sity and one who be­came a mum at the same time as me. It’s about the emo­tional sup­port that women give each other at dif­fer­ent im­por­tant mo­ments.

Be­ing on Strictly is like liv­ing on a dif­fer­ent planet where the air is dense with glit­ter. It’s won­der­ful, in­tense and to­tally ab­sorb­ing, but it’s also a bit un­real and it takes some time to come back down to earth when it’s over.

I feel so lucky that friends made on that show are still friends, in­clud­ing my dance part­ner, Kevin, and his wife, Karen. I was also re­cently at the wed­ding of two of the show’s won­der­ful pro­fes­sional dancers, Janette and Al­jaž. How lovely, too, that Natalie Gumede, who was in the fi­nal with me, is now one of my clos­est friends.

I was in­cred­i­bly lucky to get to the

fi­nal. Abbey Clancy (who won) and Natalie were far bet­ter dancers.

I had a ball, though, and my ad­vice to any­one tak­ing part is to en­joy the mo­ment but keep your feet on the ground. Planet Strictly is a tem­po­rary trip – you couldn’t live there!

I still love Strictly and usu­ally there’s

some­one I know tak­ing part. In the past, that’s in­cluded Judge Rin­der, Ed Balls, Ore Oduba, Jeremy Vine and Carol Kirk­wood (from my BBC

Break­fast days). So I watch their dances and cheer them on from the sofa. I’m just as ad­dicted to the show as the rest of the na­tion.

Health & fit­ness

I like to keep my fit­ness level high.

But I’m not com­mit­ted to one form of ex­er­cise. Some­times I’m a Zumba fiend, other times I’ve been pas­sion­ate about run­ning. I’ve done two marathons, two Great North Runs and count­less 10k runs and, when I’m in that zone, I’m a zealot. At the mo­ment, though, I can’t even imag­ine putting on a pair of

run­ning shoes. Just do­ing a bit of weights, bike and row­ing ma­chine at the gym works fine for me right now.

I try to eat well, although it would

be easy not to. The tired­ness you ex­pe­ri­ence from the early starts on

Good Morn­ing Bri­tain makes you crave sug­ary carbs, and you could make the mis­take of con­stantly snack­ing. When I go home, I could say, ‘I’m starv­ing!’ and eat half a packet of Rich Teas. In­stead, I toast a bit of rye bread and have it with poached egg and av­o­cado. Then I’ll stop; the dan­ger is that, once I start, I could just keep go­ing. I haven’t eaten meat since the age of 13. And I only started eat­ing fish when I was preg­nant for the first time and thought my body might need more pro­tein. What be­gan as a re­bel­lious teenager thing is now just a way of life. I can’t say I miss meat at all.

I’ve learned a lot from the show Save

Money: Good Food. Pre­sent­ing it with chef Matt Teb­butt has shown me so many de­li­cious, healthy ways to cook. It’s great for fam­i­lies on a bud­get, too, as all the meals cost un­der a fiver!

I look quite dif­fer­ent when I’m not

on screen. Away from work, I love to dress in baggy jumpers and jeans. In fact, I think peo­ple are dis­ap­pointed that I don’t go shop­ping in a tight dress with a full blow-dry! There’s my work side that’s dy­namic and pro­fes­sional, and there’s the per­sonal side, where all I want to do is re­lax, hang out with the kids and with my friends. But the beauty of my life now is that the two sides feel per­fectly bal­anced.

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