Ill health, ‘cringy’ on-air rows and the TV curse that ended in Eamonn and Ruth’s divorce

ill health, ‘cringy’ on-air rows and the tv curse that ended in eamonn and ruth’s divorce

Langsford and Holmes presenting ITV's This Morning in 2019 - Ken McKay/ITV/REX

For many viewers, breakfast TV is a refuge thanks to its cosy conventionality, lightweight topics, and the presenting duos who come to feel like family. But the cheery legacy of ITV’s flagship show This Morning has taken a serious hit: first with the scandal that led to the departure of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby in 2023, then with the news today that Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, who presented the show for 15 years until their departure in 2021, are set to divorce – with the pressures of This Morning allegedly a factor.

A spokesperson for the couple said that Holmes and Langsford, both 64, “have confirmed their marriage is over and they are in the process of divorcing.” Neither of them has yet commented individually.

However, a source told The Sun that Holmes will share his side of the story on his GB News breakfast show on Monday. “Eamonn is always frank on camera and knows it will be odd for him to discuss the day’s news without mentioning the split, so he’ll say a few words. He’s putting on a brave face.”

As for that joint statement, it was apparently at Langsford’s behest. Holmes hadn’t wanted to go public yet, but she decided it was time to officially confirm their split. Holmes allegedly said: “Ruth can do what she wants, but keep me out of it.” Another source suggested Holmes knew deep down the marriage was over, but has been “sticking his head in the sand”.

Friends of the couple say that their separation actually happened a year ago, and they have been “determined to keep it a secret”. Holmes has now reportedly moved out of their £3.2 million six-bedroom mansion in the town of Weybridge, Surrey, and is living in another property nearby.

It’s a sad end for morning TV’s golden couple – although, ironically, it was partly the strain of maintaining their picture-perfect image which led to this separation after 14 years of marriage.

Langsford had previously revealed that Holmes first spotted her on TV. “He was at home on a Sunday morning watching Countryfile, and I was doing a piece to camera on a boat,” she told her fellow presenters on ITV’s Loose Women in 2021. “As he knows now, I get terribly seasick, but I needed the money. When I met him, a couple of years later, he went: ‘Were you on the back of a boat in a red jacket?’”.

This meeting took place in London in 1997, soon after Holmes’s split from first wife Gabrielle. Mindful of Holmes’s three children (Declan, Rebecca and Niall), Langsford recalled they kept their burgeoning romance a secret. “I thought it spoke volumes about the sort of father he was and the integrity he had,” she explained. “It made me love him more, not less.”

She even compared them to a Hollywood glamour couple, saying: “Our relationship is very passionate. We’re like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Although we bicker and argue, ultimately our love for each other and the bond we share is so strong.”

The couple had a son, Jack, in 2002, and finally married at Elvetham Hall in Hampshire, in 2010.

Over the years, they also established a successful working relationship, co-presenting shows like teatime quiz Gift Wrapped, Channel 5’s How the Other Half Lives and, of course, This Morning. Langsford became a regular presenter of the latter in 2006, after a popular guest stint, and Holmes joined her later that year.

ill health, ‘cringy’ on-air rows and the tv curse that ended in eamonn and ruth’s divorce

Holmes and Langsford on an episode of This Morning, June 2013 - Ken McKay/REX/Shutterstock

For a time, they were Britain’s favourite husband-and-wife team – although even then there was evidently tension, with numerous sniping comments.

During a phone-in about unreasonable behaviour from loved ones, Holmes quipped that Langsford always forgot her wallet and made him “pay for everything”. A fuming Langsford snapped “It’s not even funny, and you know it’s not true.” Agony aunt Maria McErlane even weighed in, saying “I think it’s unreasonable for Eamonn to keep attacking Ruth in this way.”

We also got a glimpse into disagreements in their approach to parenting when Langsford recalled the time their son Jack, then six, was acting as a mascot for Manchester United, but burst into tears and refused to leave the tunnel. “You pushed him into it,” she said to Holmes, accusing him of “living vicariously” through their son. Holmes argued that Jack had inherited an “irrational fear” from his mum.

That bickering continued when Holmes visited Langsford on Loose Women. “I can’t remember a time I didn’t argue with Ruth. Ruth would start a fight in an empty room,” declared Holmes. “That’s not true – I just stand up for myself,” Langsford fired back.

Holmes admitted that “when you work together and you live together, there’s no down time. Other TV presenters have a minor disagreement on set and then jump in their cars and go home. With us it can last all day.”

They’re not the only couple to struggle with that level of intensity. Richard Madeley has spoken about how he and his wife and This Morning co-presenter, Judy Finnigan, would have “a massive row in the car on the way to Liverpool” where the show was recorded, and then would have to film together while struggling to hide their residual anger. “Within 30 seconds of going on air, people would be ringing our phone-in saying ‘They’ve had a row, haven’t they?’”

But Holmes and Langsford’s disagreements were played out live on air. A source told The Telegraph that everyone at This Morning “cringed” when Holmes put his wife down.

Perhaps that contributed to ITV axing the pair in November 2021 – although a furious Holmes accused the broadcaster of being “sly” and making it look as though he’d already left, instead of being dropped. Langsford stayed with ITV, continuing her stint on Loose Women. Holmes moved to GB News.

ill health, ‘cringy’ on-air rows and the tv curse that ended in eamonn and ruth’s divorce

Langsford and Holmes with their fellow ex This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, January 2013 - Stuart Wilson/Getty

But as their professional partnership came to an end, so, it seems, did their marriage, with those different work commitments on rival channels pulling them apart – even as they tried to keep up appearances. Both were torn between their long-term brand, linked together as married national treasures, and these new, independent personas. Any problems were magnified by them operating in the goldfish bowl of TV, constantly observed by the public.

Holmes suggested Langsford might be better off moving to the guest bedroom so that she wasn’t woken up by his 2.45am alarm. That went down badly. “She glared at me angrily and told me in no uncertain terms that she won’t be moving, so I think that means I’m being turfed out,” revealed Holmes. “She was deadly serious.”

Health issues also became a major consideration. Holmes suffered from agonising back problems caused by slipped discs and a dislocated pelvis, which left him struggling to move without crutches or a walking stick. Even then, he said wryly: “I don’t walk; it’s more of a wobble.”

Spinal surgery in September 2022 left him with a weakness in his left leg – and just weeks later Holmes had a horrendous fall, tumbling down 18 stairs at his home in Weybridge, landing on the stone floor and breaking his shoulder. “Blood was pouring out my mouth, and a bone was sticking out my shoulder,” he recalled.

“It has really taken its toll on everyone around me,” he added. “I can’t bend down to pick things up so Ruth ends up having to wait on me.” Holmes also revealed that he’d been forced to stop driving, “which felt quite emasculating”.

He couldn’t even attend his mother’s funeral. “That was a terrible low. It was just inconceivable, being Irish Catholic, that you wouldn’t be carrying your mother’s coffin.” Holmes took four months off work, and fears he may never walk unaided again.

ill health, ‘cringy’ on-air rows and the tv curse that ended in eamonn and ruth’s divorce

Langsford (left) co-hosting an episode of ITV's Loose Women in 2021. Her fellow presenter, Jane Moore (right), is also divorcing - ITV

Just this week, Langsford told Woman’s Weekly “I don’t know how much Eamonn’s mobility will improve. He does the physio, but this might never be 100 per cent right. With any care situation, it isn’t always easy.”

Is that a hint that Langsford is escaping a potential long-term carer role? Interestingly, her friend and fellow Loose Women presenter Jane Moore announced in December 2022 that she was splitting from her publicist husband Gary Farrow – right after Moore had spent months nursing him back to health from a broken leg.

It’s possible that Langsford and Moore discussed their similarly confining situations, that both glimpsed a future of sacrificing their lives to the care of ill husbands in their dotage, and mutually decided to cut and run. Even if that does sound rather like a Patricia Highsmith thriller plot: Loose Strangers on a Train – or The Talented Ms Langsford.

In retrospect, we should have realised Holmes and Langsford were done. The pair hadn’t been seen in public together since an Instagram skit promoting a Feeling Fabulous fashion and beauty event in July 2022.

But, whether on screen or off, it sounds like there’s no chance of Holmes reuniting with Langsford. The only question is how these two very public figures will handle it. We’ve been privy to every aspect of their marriage; now, viewers will expect a front-row seat to their divorce.

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