Eamonn Holmes: My Life In Media

"You have to make yourself accessible. I never understand reporters who speak like daleks."
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The Independent Online

he host of BBC1's National Lottery programme, Jet Set, and Sky News' Sunrise, Eamonn Holmes, 46, grew up in Belfast. He worked for Ulster Television before spending 12 years on the GMTV sofa alongside Anthea Turner and Fiona Phillips. He also hosts weekend shows on Magic FM and BBC Five Live and has written his autobiography, This is My Life, which divulges the secrets of his acrimonious relationship with Turner. He has four children and lives in Surrey with his partner Ruth Langsford, with whom he has guest-presented This Morning.

What inspired you to embark on a media career?

The Troubles in Northern Ireland were the big news story in the world and I became fascinated by it at the age of 11. If you were growing up in Belfast in 1970 and said you wanted to be a reporter, people laughed.

When you were 15, what newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

In the morning we got the Irish News, a broadsheet for Catholics. In the evening we got the Belfast Telegraph, which was a middle-class Protestant paper. It would not have been unusual in aspiring Catholic families to take these two papers, but it was in working-class Catholic families, of which we were one. I read them cover to cover.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

I was and remain a real TV buff. I watched everything and I learnt from it. I watched Horizon, Blue Peter, John Craven's Newsround and The Sky at Night - I'm fascinated by Patrick Moore. As a 10-year-old I watched Panorama, This Week and World in Action. I also adored Starsky and Hutch, Kojak, The Sweeney, Charlie's Angels and The Six Million Dollar Man. I was of the first generation to be telly-literate.

Describe your job.

It's not really like work. Although I work hard, it's easy for me. It's about the variety, keeping pace with the daily agenda.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

Radio Five. But if it's not a work day I would listen to music, because I've realised that if you're a journalist, where everything's driven by the news agenda, your brow becomes furrowed.

What's on your iPod?

Everything; Johnny Cash, Sugababes, Pussycat Dolls. I've just put The Da Vinci Code on, and there are all sorts of autobiographies, like Terry Wogan's.

What media sources do you consult at work?

I check the Sky News website and flick through the papers. For questions for Jet Set it's hard to go past the Daily Mail. It's got sports coverage, whatever Middle England's outraged about, features and health sections.

What is the best thing about your job?

The variety and the topicality. I am one of the few people who's allowed to do news, sport and light entertainment.

And the worst?

Constantly being judged. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has an opinion.

How do you feel you influence the media?

You have to make yourself accessible. I never understand reporters who speak like Daleks.

What's your proudest achievement in work?

Surviving. In a business where most people wouldn't last 26 months I've survived 26 years.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

They're clocking up. It's between interviewing David Blaine and him saying nothing for five minutes, and Fathers for Justice invading Jet Set on Eurovision night. They were very aggressive. David Blaine was one of those all-time telly bloopers where you didn't know if he was jet-lagged, diabetic or had too much to drink.

At home, what do you tune in to?

The best invention ever made is Sky+. I always watch Jon Snow on Channel 4 News, a bit of Richard and Judy or Paul O'Grady and some football. I probably won't go to bed until I've watched Newsnight.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

I read my column in the Sunday People, "Man of the People". I flick precariously through the rest of them. I read Condé Nast Traveller and Stuff.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

I was named after Eamonn Andrews who did This is Your Life. It would be nice to present it.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Des Lynam at his height. Dawn Airey, the controller of Sky, because she is not only dynamic and industrious but a rare commodity: a very human and considerate person.

The cv

1980: Joins Ulster Television in Belfast as reporter

1982: Hosts UTV's tea-time programme, Good Evening Ulster

1986: Moves to BBC Daytime as it is launched, is poached to host Open Air

1990: Juggles the BBC's breakfast news, sports reporting and the Holiday Programme

1993: The first face and voice on GMTV. Stays for 12-and-a-half years, surviving a falling out with co-host Anthea Turner

2000: Gets Saturday night lottery show, Jet Set

2005: Leaves GMTV after demanding a huge pay rise and joins Sky News' Sunrise programme