Piers Morgan defends Susanna Reid over 'flirty interview style' accusations
New Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan has defended co-host Susanna Reid against accusations of a flirty interviewing style, slamming criticism as "overtly sexist".
Referring to his other series, Piers Morgan's Life Stories, he said: "She's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.
"I can flirt away with anyone when I do my Life Stories, nobody gives a damn. But the moment she has a laugh with David Beckham, or the Prime Minister, suddenly she's being disgraceful and flirting too much."
Reid has faced criticism for her interviews with male celebrities and politicians, with some viewers saying they were overly flirtatious.
Morgan, 50, said: "I think it's pathetic, I really do. I think she's a very good interviewer, she likes light and shade, she can be serious, she can be frivolous - that's all the things you want in an interviewer.
"They should back off being so overtly sexist about it, because it's unfair, and it's annoying to her because she's a very highly trained, professional journalist."
Speaking just after being announced as a permanent member of the GMB presenting team on Tuesday morning, he added: "One person's flirtation in an interview is just two people having a bit of laugh. What do you call flirtation?
"I think that it can be massively exaggerated. You want to relax the viewer, and you want to get a sense that everyone's having a good time.
"Well to do that sometimes you've got to be quite charming - and dare I say it, nay a little flirtatious. But who cares? Why does it matter so much?"
Morgan has already worked alongside Reid, when he covered for co-host Ben Shephard as a guest presenter in April.
On working with the 44-year-old, he said: "I think she'll find me absolutely exhilarating - no, she'll find me incredibly annoying! But I think that's going to be half the fun.
"I think I really do enjoy winding her up. She can't help but show that on air, and viewers are left with the general consensus that she finds me about as cuddly and appealing as Hannibal Lecter.
"I probably like Susanna a bit more than she likes me. I'm going to work on my people skills and see if I can bring her around to my way of thinking, and build a special relationship."
Looking back to April, he said: "I couldn't think of anything I'd rather less do than breakfast TV. I did it for a week, just for a bit of fun really, when ITV knew I had a gap in my Life Stories filming schedule... It was kind of controlled anarchy for the week.
"Everyone seemed to quite like it, and actually I quite liked it, and so we kept talking. And when they said would you like to come back, I said - oh well, I'll just kiss goodbye to the rest of my life in terms of getting up at 3am."
The breakfast show has averaged 582,000 viewers in the year to date - a 15.7% share, according to ITV. In the same period last year they averaged 546,000, a 14.9% share.
Morgan said: "I'm hopeful we get a bigger audience generally. I think the show here is very strong, I think it has stabilised after a long period of decline, I think it feels like a well-produced show, and I think in Susanna they've got a rock star, who has really solidified everything together, and I think she sees in me a necessary evil to take it to a new level.
"You're up against the BBC who have a great brand name, and have done very well in the ratings in the morning for a long time, and ITV has lagged behind.
"I hope that we can continue the growth of the show and that I can start to make a real impact, and if I do then that's good for me and good for the show and everyone connected with it."
He added: "I'm not coming here to go down in the ratings. That would be disappointing."
Shephard reduced his workload to two days a week on the show in September so he could focus on other TV projects, leaving a vacancy Monday-Friday.
Morgan joked: "It was going to create a vacancy, really, for a male to come in to this very female-dominated sofa, and realign things and get the correct order back - of dominant male with his sidekicks."