17 February 2024

Ben Shephard: Leaving ‘on-screen wife’ Kate Garraway for This Morning is hard

17 February 2024

Ben Shephard has said leaving Good Morning Britain (GMB) for This Morning has been the “hardest decision” due to his relationship with co-presenter Kate Garraway.

The pair have been a regular duo on the breakfast show and Shephard supported Garraway when her husband Derek Draper suffered long-lasting symptoms from coronavirus.

The pair shared the sofa when Garraway first returned to work following her husband’s death aged 56 in January.

On Friday, ITV confirmed Shephard will become a permanent presenter of This Morning alongside Cat Deeley, following the departure of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby last year.

The new duo will begin hosting the daytime programme from Monday to Thursday next month, with Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary presenting on Fridays.

Shephard said: “I’m grateful that my extended GMB family is only next door so that whenever I get nostalgic, I know I’m not going to be far away.

“Although I’ll miss being on screen with them, my later starts mean I may be able to hang out with them all a bit more.

“One of the hardest decisions of course is knowing that my mornings with Kate, my on-screen wife of nearly 20 years, is coming to an end.

“Her journey has been well documented, and I think we would all agree how remarkable she has been over the last four years. I won’t miss the mess but I’ve learned so much from her, as I have from all of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside.”

Garraway and Mr Draper, a former political lobbyist-turned-psychologist and writer, married in September 2005.

He was admitted to hospital in December after suffering a heart attack and died the following month.

She told Shephard on GMB this month that it was “lovely” to be back at the desk alongside him, but she admitted feeling “wobbly”.

After attending his funeral at the church in London where the couple married, Shephard told Garraway: “You really did Derek proud, it was an extraordinary thing.”

The 49-year-old presenter, who hosted breakfast show GMTV along with ITV’s Tipping Point and Ninja Warrior UK, said he is looking forward to being part of the team on This Morning.

“I’ve worked with many of the team on and off but to work with them full-time is very exciting,” he added.

Shephard also mentioned growing up watching the “two icons” of daytime, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, who began hosting This Morning at its outset, and his first time hosting with the “lovely” Fern Britton.

Britton presented the programme with Schofield before she was replaced by Willoughby.

Willoughby and Schofield shared the sofa for 14 years before he left ITV in May 2023 after admitting to an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a colleague.

Willoughby departed the show in October, saying she had made the decision “for me and my family”.

Shephard, who used to fill in for Schofield and occasionally share the sofa with Willoughby, said: “I understand how important it is as a show to our viewers – they are an integral part.

“Every time I’ve stepped in to host the show, something extraordinary happens. The engagement from the viewers is like nothing else.”

He said he “adored” Hammond and that it is “lovely” to be back with O’Leary, who he appeared with on a spin-off show to Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast called The Bigger Breakfast.

Deeley, who has presented American competition show So You Think You Can Dance for more than a decade, said she “really missed that sense of camaraderie” of hosting with another person.

“Ben is a true gentleman, an incredible presenter and a great journalist,” she said of her new This Morning co-host.

“No-one handles live TV better; he makes it look effortless. He’s funny and whip smart, I can’t wait to go to work every day and do a job I love.”

Both Deeley and Shephard have previously presented This Morning on separate occasions, with her co-presenting the show alongside Rylan Clark in November last year.

Deeley, who is also known for ITV’s Stars In Their Eyes and the BBC’s Fame Academy, rose to fame as a presenter of Saturday morning ITV children’s programme SM:TV Live alongside the Geordie duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.

The 47-year-old was also a presenter on SM:TV Live’s spin-off music programme CD:UK, where Willoughby also found fame.

Willoughby continues to present ITV’s Dancing On Ice, where she has been joined by Deal Or No Deal host Stephen Mulhern – who she worked with on children’s ITV show Ministry Of Mayhem – as a replacement for Schofield.

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