Exclusive: Susanna Reid on finding love and putting up with Piers morgan!
Susanna Reid, 47, talks to Nathalie Whittle about putting up with Piers Morgan, being back in the dating game – and why ageing is a blessing…
Few celebrities would feel comfortable arriving at a photo shoot dressed in their pyjamas (a black velour onesie, in case you’re wondering) – well, you haven’t met Susanna Reid yet. This is a woman who has no qualms to admit that what you see each morning on Good Morning Britain is far from reality. “I rarely get recognised in the street because I’m in the make-up chair for about 45 minutes before going on air – and without that, I look quite different,” she tells me.
Susanna’s presenting career began at BBC News 24, followed by a move to BBC News Channel, then BBC Breakfast, in 2003, where she remained for 11 years before departing for ITV’s rival programme, Good Morning Britain. During that time, she’s handled everything from breaking news to prickly politicians, but perhaps her biggest challenge to date has been working with one of TV’s most Marmite presenters, Piers Morgan, who joined the show in 2015. Yet after a period of what she calls “adjustment”, ratings began to soar and the show now attracts its biggest ever audience – proving that no challenge is too great for this breakfast star. Susanna lives in London and has three sons, Sam,
15, Finn, 14, and Jack, 12, with her expartner, Dominic Cotton, from whom she split in 2014 after 15 years together.
When I found out Piers was joining me on the GMB sofa, the first thing I did was ask my editor if I could take my microphone off. He’s not exactly a small personality and he’s not somebody who’s going to make things easy for you. it was one of those moments where i needed a moment to react without the entire team listening!
He’s turned my normal working life on its head in a brilliant way because he’s so dynamic – but he really does wind me up. He likes to keep prodding me until i react and the arguments you see on-air do extend off-air. We have a very lively editorial meeting before we go on – Piers is on speakerphone as he’s always late as he only needs three minutes in hair and make-up – and we might disagree about the choice of guest or what we want to get out of an interview. i’ve definitely had to learn to moderate my responses slightly.
I think Piers would quite like the fact that our relationship has been called flirtatious before, but I certainly don’t. i don’t understand it at all. What we have is just a lot of banter. We have been known to have a night out together too, but we can only do two or three a year because when we go out, we go large! the last time we did it was for my birthday last December, and we were partying until about 3am.
Early on in my career, I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold my own against someone like Piers, but there’s a benefit to being a middleaged woman on TV. i’m 47 now and i’ve been doing this job in some shape or form for about 25 years. i’ve built up a lot of resilience in that time and that really is the key. i truly believe that ageing is a blessing to us all. >>
One of the things I learnt from Bill Turnbull [Susanna’s former co-presenter at BBC Breakfast] is that it’s OK to make mistakes. We all approach our jobs thinking we have to be absolutely spot on all the time, and when we make mistakes, we go, “Oh God, I’m not very good at what I do” – but actually, that’s part of what you do. So now, when Piers and I argue or I mess up – which I do – I don’t try to sweep it under the carpet; I own it.
I get very caught up emotionally in stories – I’ve cried on air a number of times. I’m learning to try and keep a lid on my feelings because you don’t want them to swamp the coverage, but I’m a human being and I don’t have a heart of stone. How can you not feel the pain of a mother looking for her 15-year-old daughter after the Manchester bombing?
I deleted Twitter off my phone recently and that’s been incredibly liberating. I’ve been targeted by trolls before and when someone has a go at you, it can feel really bad. Piers always says to me, “Oh it’s just some spotty geek in a basement,” but I’ve definitely been criticised by some well-known names and I’ve thought to myself, “I don’t think you need to say things like that, do you?” It’s a terrible distraction from the things that really matter in life.
Believe it or not, my plan A was to act. I did a TV series called The Price with Harriet Walter at 13. But it didn’t take me long to realise I didn’t have the dedication – or the skill – to be one of those people who gets a satisfying career out of it. If I got offered a role now? I don’t think I’d take it, but having said that, Piers is always telling us about the millions he gets from his Hollywood movie career…
I’m at a point in my life where I’m just enjoying what I’m doing in the moment, but one thing I have thought about is writing my own motivational book. Self-help books are a real passion of mine – Brené Brown’s are my favourite – and I think all of us women benefit from learning about how people have got to where they are and how they’ve dealt with the difficult times.
I might look very “on” when I’m on Tv, but I’ve definitely had days, weeks even, where I’ve felt low – don’t we all? That’s why it’s so important to me to switch out of work mode and decompress with my children when I get home.
One of the toughest things about being a working mum is the guilt – you can’t escape it. I’ve had times where I’ve had to travel abroad and not be with them or I’ve had to miss events because of something that’s going on at work – and that’s hard. As the boys are getting older, I’m finding that they’re not so dependent on me
physically, but they’re much more dependent on me emotionally, so I’m trying to be there for them more than ever.
The challenge of going through a separation is doing what’s right for them. My own parents divorced when I was nine and I know that when your parents are in conflict, it makes you feel uncomfortable. I think the secret is to be as emotionally generous towards each other as you can – that’s what Dom and I try to do and we’ve managed to remain good friends. Of course there are difficulties along the way, but right now we’re in a great place and that gives me real peace of mind.
I definitely haven’t ruled out the possibility of having another relationship; I’m totally open to finding love again. Does it feel strange or scary to date again? If I’m honest, not really, but my boys are always at the back of my mind. I’m not on dating websites and I’m not actively going out and looking for it. But if at some point something happens, I wouldn’t shy away from it.
I’m lucky to have a fantastic bunch of friends in my life who will get me through anything. You don’t often make new friends as you get older, but when I did Strictly back in 2014, Natalie Gumede and I became very close and we spend a lot of time together now.
When life gets busy, the one thing I let slip is exercise… and my diet. I do try to go to the gym when I can, but I find that when I come home from work all I want to do is eat and crash. I’ll get in and be super healthy with a poached egg on rye toast and avocado, then I’ll have a nap until
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV w&h