Ahead of their new quiz show for engaged couples, Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford tell Keeley Bolger why shared values and, er, a little animal lust are key to their marriage.
When Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford tied the knot, they'd already been together for more than a decade, owned a home and had a son together, so sticking the usual "towels, sheets and practical things" on their wedding gift list wasn't really necessary.
"But a lot of our friends kept going, 'You have to have a list because we want to buy you something'," recalls Ruth, who married Belfast-born Eamonn in Hampshire four years ago.
Eamonn wasn't allowed to decide anything on the list, he interjects.
"Because you said to me, 'You do it!'," retorts Ruth. And for good reason – as if Eamonn had been allowed a say, he admits the list would have included requests for posters of his beloved Manchester United, prompting a good-natured gust of laughter from his wife.
Wedding lists are the focus of the couple's new series Gift Wrapped, which will see three engaged couples compete to win the wedding gift list and holiday of their dreams, by answering quiz trivia and questions about each other.
Ruth and Eamonn, who are both 54 and live with their 12-year-old son, Jack, in Surrey, both enjoyed the chance to find out how the contestants met and got together. "Who made the first move, what was the first date like," says Ruth.
She admits that there were moments when she found herself wondering things like, 'What is she doing with him?'
"Then after a few rounds you think, 'Oh actually, I can really see it, he's really funny'," she adds.
The hosts even found themselves being quizzed about their own marriage by the contestants too – sort of.
"Most of the contestants came up to me and said, 'What are you doing with her?'" jokes Eamonn.
"Funny, they said that to me about you," teases Singapore-born Ruth, laughing.
"How strange." It's exchanges like this which have made the pair a hit with viewers on This Morning, which they've co-hosted every Friday and during the school holidays since 2006.
So familiar is their affectionate relationship, the way they cajole and call each other out – then in the next moment break into cackles of laughter – that often people stop them in the supermarket, greeting them like old friends, or send them messages on Twitter when they've been tickled by one of their "testy" talks.
"I think people feel very comfortable coming up and talking to us," says Ruth, who's also a regular presenter on Loose Women.
"People go, 'Oh hi', and they start chatting and then suddenly go, 'Oh I'm sorry, you don't even know me'. I'm very flattered by that. I think it's nice that people feel comfortable enough to come and chat."
The TV duo agree that their lively sense of humour and shared values keep them close. "We're very opposite in lots of habits, but we're very together on all of our core principles and values," explains Eamonn, adding, much to his wife's amusement, "animal lust" as one of the keys to their happy marriage.
"We have this huge attraction between the two of us on a lot of fronts, including our family backgrounds and our values and the things we care about, but in day-to-day routine we would ..."
"Get on each others' nerves," finishes Ruth, arousing a snicker of agreement from her husband.
While this may be true, the couple, who were together for 13 years before marrying, seem closer than ever and are pleased they tied the knot.
"(Before) I would have said I wouldn't feel any different being married, because I was very happy and secure, very involved," says Ruth, who occasionally uses the name Mrs Holmes when chatting to builders or booking tables at restaurants, she reveals.
"I had a child with Eamonn, you know, everything was fantastic, there was no, 'We must get married to make us feel more secure'. But there is a difference (being married), and it's very difficult to say what. It's just another level in our relationship." Eamonn, who also has three children from his first marriage, jokes that he's someone who is always happier being married. But, he adds, being wed to Ruth is something that gives him constant contentment.
"When our son Jack came along, it was right to change things," he says.
"You know, we were blissfully happy and we were very, very busy, and one day I stood back and thought 'I want to change this and I want to take this on another level'.
"It was the proudest thing I ever did, to marry Ruth Langsford," he adds. "It really made me feel very good, and it continues to make me feel really good."
- Gift Wrapped starts on ITV on Monday, August 18
A career in the spotlight...
Eamonn Holmes has come a long way from the young lad from north Belfast who wanted to be a journalist. He grew up in north Belfast, with dad Leonard (now deceased), mother Josephine and brothers Leonard, Brian, Colm and Connor
Eamonn attended Holy Family Primary School, then St Malachy's College on the Antrim Road before studying journalism at the Belfast College of Business Studies
He got his first career break with Ulster Television in 1979 working as a reporter/presenter on Farming Ulster before going on to focus on one of the enduring loves of his life – sport – alongside Jackie Fullerton
Just two years later, Eamonn became the youngest anchor of an evening flagship news programme at the age of 21 when he replaced Gloria Hunniford
Later he gained national prominence when he began to work for BBC Manchester. He was quickly picked up by the BBC national network and presented the lunchtime show Open Air
His move to GMTV in 1993 made it the most watched morning show in the UK, until his departure in 2005 for Sky's Sunrise.
After his first marriage to Gabrielle – with whom he had three children, Declan, Rebecca and Niall – ended, he went on to marry TV presenter Ruth Langsford, who was his co-presenter on This Morning, in 2010.
Married to the job ... other well-known couples
- Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan – the on-screen couple that set the bar for all that followed, Richard and Judy became a surrogate mum and dad of sorts to daytime television viewers, often playing out domestic-style spats to the delight of guests and audiences alike on shows such as ITV's This Morning and their eponymous magazine show on Channel 4. The couple met in the early Eighties (while both were still married to other people), and tied the knot in 1986, going on to have two children, while Judy had twin sons from her first marriage
- Mike Nesbitt and Lynda Bryans – the journalistic duo, who wed in 1992, were familiar faces on UTV news programmes throughout the Nineties and Noughties, before departing the channel, Nesbitt to take up a career in politics, and Bryans to co-run a media production and facilitation company with her husband
- Fanny Cradock and Major Johnnie Cradock – the TV chef became a star in the 1950s, '60s and '70s – not only for her colourful appearance and cookery demonstrations, but also her berating of bumbling husband Johnnie, who would often receive a tongue-lashing for being too slow to assist her in her on-screen preparations
- Michael Underwood and Angellica Bell – the TV presenters were co-hosts on children's channel CBBC during the Noughties, and had been friends for a number of years before tying the knot in 2010