Eamonn Holmes: 'It was love at first sight with Ruth... I still wake up in the morning and think 'wow' when I see her'
He's the first to admit that he's a flirt, but Belfast's Eamonn Holmes only has eyes for one woman. He tells Gemma Dunn why crossed words will always be part and parcel of any normal relationship and how keeping love alive takes effort.
Eamonn Holmes is happily married, but that won't stop him taking the moral high ground when it comes to the title of his latest project, It's Not Me, It's You - a play on the infamous break-up excuse.
"Oh goodness me. It's certainly not me, it's usually somebody else," teases the 56-year-old Belfast man, when I question if he's ever fallen victim to the famous saying. "That's the way I think. Don't we all think like that? We always think we play it right.
"Take my relationship with Ruth, I cannot possibly see how she could ever have a disagreement with me or blame me in anything. So it's not me, it's always her, without a doubt.
"The odd time, I could apologise," Holmes - who married long-term partner and This Morning co-presenter Ruth Langsford in 2010 - adds with a wink. "But I am usually right."
Living up to his cheeky-chappie persona, Holmes - with his familiar blue eyes and salt and pepper hair - is on top form this afternoon, reeling off anecdote after anecdote when it comes to the hot topic of the day - dating and relationships.
But we're not just having a love-in. The popular host is here to discuss his latest venture as the face of Channel 5's flirty new panel show.
"It's a chance for a lot of well-known people and comedians to tell us stories and give us a little insight into their personal relationship status - such as how they met their current partner and disasters with others," the TV star explains of It's Not Me, It's You.
The series will also touch on "why relationships work, why they don't work, and give little tips and celebrity tricks of the trade", he notes.
And it's looking likely he'll have his hands full ("I can only hope"), with model Kelly Brook and former Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison signed up as team captains, plus four new celebrity panellists going head-to-head over a series of fun games and challenges.
"I have to turn up and have meetings in my dressing room, plus lunch, dinner and de-briefs with Kelly and Vicky," Holmes screeches.
"People pay me for that. People call that work. I mean, I honestly do think that all my hard work over 35 years has paid off. It's payback time."
He's certainly learnt a thing or two from his younger counterparts.
"I've spoken to celebs who have met partners on social media," he enthuses. "I find that amazing. I'm a wee bit jealous actually; it's the sort of thing if I was born in another era... It's an amazing match-making tool."
While the Sky News regular confesses he's a hopeless flirt ("Part of your soul dies if flirting dies within you. It's a good thing to tell someone that they look attractive or they have a great personality..."), the father-of-four (he has a son with Langsford and three children from his first marriage) is quick to gush over his beloved wife. "It was love at first sight with Ruth. I can remember seeing Ruth standing on a street corner - which is absolutely true - and as I drove past, I went, 'Wow'. I just fell head over heels. And I still am. Every time I see her, every morning I wake up to her, I think, 'Wow'.
"I'm not saying she says the same."
Despite the lack of "nitty-gritty" on the show, the showbiz veteran - who has a new lease of life following a double hip operation earlier this year - wants to make it known that It's Not Me, It's You is a show for all ages.
"People forget that older people have relationships as well, and loneliness is an awful thing," he says.
"No matter what your age, love should always be a part of your life. Therefore we're saying, if you're young, watch this; if you're middle-aged, watch this; if you're old, watch this, because hopefully you'll find it good, all-round fun."
He's certainly practising what he preaches, claiming to be Mr Romantic when it comes to fitting in date nights, despite all those gruelling early starts.
"I always make time for my wife, but we're different animals," he confides. "After working during the day and being made up during the day, Ruth sees it as effort to go out, whereas she would be the first to admit that I would drop everything for a date night.
"Any relationship has to function on that, and I don't get it when you don't make the effort," he continues. "What she would agree is, when she does do it, she enjoys it, and when we're together, there's no one else we'd rather be sitting with in the cinema or across a table, talking and holding hands.
"It's like all things: there's no magical formula, but the harder you work at it, the luckier you get at relationships. That's a warning for everybody - you should invest in your relationship."
But with no shortage of opinions on other people's love lives, does he worry his public profile opens his own marriage up to scrutiny?
"I think you've got to accept that," he reasons. "What you can't accept is why people make up stories about you that are sensationalised. Ruth and I - our relationship is no different to anybody else's, except people like to relate to it.
"People like to think it's under strain or something. All I can say is, we're quite the opposite - we're solidly in love and very respectful of each other and very loving of each other. I do understand the interest, but we're no role models for anybody; our relationship is just as imperfect as everybody else's, but maybe that gives other people some consolation.
"I do think there's something strange when people say, 'We've never had a crossed word in 40 years', though," Holmes adds with a grin. "Nobody can ever accuse us of that."
- It's Not Me, It's You starts on Channel 5 on Thursday, June 23 at 10pm