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Eamon Holmes to leave GMTV

(February 2005)

PT
Put The Telly On Meridian (South East) South East Today
Forced off the sofa
By RICHARD SIMPSON
08:27am 23rd February 2005

GMTV presenter Eamonn Holmes was forced out of his job yesterday after bosses called his bluff over a huge pay demand.
Holmes, who has been on the breakfast television sofa for 12 years, announced his shock departure having failed to secure a rise which would have seen him earning almost 500,000 a year for working three days a week.

Holmes, 45, is understood to have been 'certain' he could land a 10 per cent increase from 450,000 to 495,000 when his three-yearly contract came up for renewal next month.


But executives dug in their heels after realising the show's ratings did not dip when Holmes and co-presenter Fiona Phillips were replaced two days a week by Kate Garraway and Andrew Castle.
The decision was made easier by there being two well-polished male replacements, Castle and Ben Shephard, waiting in the wings - who earn as comparatively little as 90,000.

Called his bluff

A GMTV source said: "They (Holmes and Phillips) are paid a fortune, they work three days a week, they get heaps of holiday - but when their replacements Andrew and Kate are on, the ratings don't take a bump.

"The bosses have realised they can save themselves a huge heap of money by chopping them both or rather negotiating a deal which both might find difficult to accept."

Holmes - who has hosted the show since it began in 1993 - will bow out at the end of April.

He said: "What a privilege it has been to wake up the nation over the years with stories that affected all our lives. I've covered every type of story imaginable at GMTV and it's the right time to move on.

"I'll particularly miss my partnership with Fiona Phillips and I wish her and all the rest of the team the very best for the future."

Simmering feuds

Despite stories of simmering feuds across the sofa, Miss Phillips said: "This is our ninth year together - in fact, I have spent more time with Eamonn than I have with my own husband. I will miss him more than words can say."

GMTV bosses are also understood to be scrutinising Miss Phillips's future, though her contract is not up for renewal until the end of next year.

An insider said: "When Kate (Garraway) replaces Fiona two days in the week, it's not as if viewers turn their back on the show - in fact ratings don't even change.

"And Fiona looks like such an old frump that when she is on the sofa with Ben Shephard she looks more like his grandmother than a co-presenter. There can never be any chemistry there, so it's hard to see what Fiona's role will be in the future."

Holmes - who is famously prickly, not least in relation to references about his ballooning weight - will now concentrate on BBC shows.

He presents National Lottery Jet Set and recently hosted Hard Spell. He also has a Saturday sports show on Radio Five Live, for which he is paid 50,000 a year.

Holmes's agent said his departure was down to wanting to spend more time with his children.

Private life

Although his career has gone from strength to strength, the GMTV job affected his private life.

He split from his wife Gabrielle, his teenage sweetheart, after years of commuting between the GMTV studios and their home in Belfast. He spends every weekend with his three children from the marriage - Declan, 15, Rebecca, 14, and 11-year-old Niall.

Holmes found new love with television presenter Ruth Langsford and they live in Surrey with their twoyear-old son, Jack.

Holmes's on-screen partnership with Miss Phillips has helped win GMTV an audience of 6million.

But he has not always hit it off with his co-presenters. He loathed Anthea Turner when they shared the sofa and dubbed her 'Princess Tippy Toes'.

Holmes started his TV career on a farming show in his native Northern Ireland and got his big break when he took over from Gloria Hunniford as host of Good Evening Ulster.

After a stint on the BBC's Open Air show, he joined GMTV.
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And they say don't believe what you read in the papers!
FA
fanoftv Central (West) Midlands Today
Nice of bosses to call his bluff, though good on him for trying to get as much money as he could out of them.
If he's being offered more by the beeb (as has been reported) for doing less then of course it would be the way he'd go.

I personally prefer Ben to Andrew, I think that Ben & Kate get on far better, and as Andrew has been with GMTV for longer (or at least as a stand in presenter for Eamonn longer) I believe that Andrew will be moved up to co present with Fiona with Ben and Kate doing thursday & friday, plus as that article says, Ben & Fiona look like Grandmother and Grandson when presenting together.
And doesn't Andrew have children, so he could follow a similar pattern to Eamonn & Fiona of having school holidays off.

As for the end of the year if/when Fiona leaves, before they hire somebody else in I'd love to see Penny have a go at presenting GMTV Today on a permanent basis, she has been great for fill ins and has a great sense of humour that people don't see enough of.

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