Everybody’s got a healthy crush on Ben Shephard – that’s no secret, according to Susanna Reid. “Nobody has to whisper about their crush on Ben like they have to whisper about their crush on Matt Hancock,” the Good Morning Britain host says.
Susanna is referring to a confession by a newspaper journalist who went public with her secret crush on the former health secretary turned I’m A Celebrity… star. “Apparently people do [fancy Hancock] but that’s for them,” she says, making her position quite clear.
In the make-up chair, Susanna, 51, is razor sharp and robust as though she’s still in the GMB hot seat, but instantly softens once she’s joined by her co-star.
“Ben lifts my spirits,” she explains. “Whenever I’m weary he makes everything better.”
There are times on our shoot when they could pass for a married couple. “She’s never wrong which is really, really annoying,” jokes Ben, who’s been happily married to his university sweetheart Annie since 2004. “She’s an incredible journalist and brilliant with details – I don’t think I could ever beat her in an argument! I just love working with her, whatever happens we always have a laugh."
Staples of GMB , Ben, 47, and Susanna join us today as ambassadors of the show’s award-winning 1 Million Minutes campaign, which aims to eradicate loneliness in the UK. Now in its seventh year, it encourages viewers to pledge their time to charities and connect with those feeling alone.
“I’m lucky because I have a big family and we all get together but on those Christmases we can’t, I really struggle,” says Ben, who shares sons Jack, 17, and Sam, 15, with Annie. “That’s why the campaign is so vital. Over 400 million minutes have been donated.”
“It’s terrible to feel lonely, particularly at Christmas,” adds Susanna. “We are also going to be in your living rooms on Christmas Day. TV is sometimes the only company people have.”
If not just for their 3.30am wake-up calls alone, their gruelling schedules come at a cost. Susanna admits she has little social life outside of work and spends her Sundays off cramming for the week ahead as well as juggling being a mum to three grown up boys – Sam, 20, Finn, 18, and Jack, 17, who she co-parents with her ex Dominic Cotton.
Meanwhile, she tells us Ben is such a consummate pro, he once refused to ask for time off for a serious back injury in 2018 and ended up live on air on strong painkillers. “Kate [Garraway] and I found that highly amusing – you weren’t ever entirely sure where his conversation was going.”
Tipping Point host Ben, who’s run 14 marathons, is currently recovering from an agonising triple leg injury that left him needing surgery. But it was not being able to exercise that was more painful than the injury itself.
“It was horrific. Exercise is so important for my mental wellbeing. I’m not going to be doing any more marathons,” he confirms. “That’s one of the things about hitting 50 – my body can’t keep up.”
Susanna, who quit drinking four years ago, concurs, adding, “Spending time with the kids is my release.”
Watch 1 Million Minutes weekdays in Dec on GMB from 6am on ITV1 & ITV Hub
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