Belfast Telegraph

Piers Morgan: It enrages rivals that I count Trump as a friend... their fury pleases me

Piers Morgan is a busy man, with a one-off documentary Serial Killer and another dose of Life Stories both about to air. He talks to Sherna Noah about pay packets, early alarm calls, his pin-up Pamela Anderson and Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid

He is the Marmite of breakfast television - loved and loathed in equal measure. But Piers Morgan prefers to compare his appearance on Good Morning Britain to a heroic outlaw than a savoury spread.

"People who deserve my empathy, usually the non-famous, the non-powerful, often get it," he says. "But people in positions of power - my job is to hold their feet to the fire. And I make no bones about that. I like to think of it as Robin Hood television."

It is 10am when I chat to Morgan at ITV's South Bank headquarters, where he is tucking into a second breakfast. But he is halfway through his day already, thanks to his breakfast show job alongside Susanna Reid.

When he first joined the programme in late 2015, he found the early alarm call too gruelling.

"I used to get up at 3.45am and that was killing me. Then they let me come in a bit later," the former Britain's Got Talent judge says. "Now, I'm up at 4.55am and I'm in by 5.30am and that's much more bearable."

The 52-year-old will be able to enjoy even more beauty sleep with ITV's move to west London, which by happy coincidence is just a stone's throw from the former newspaper editor's home.

We talk days after Morgan landed the first international broadcast interview with Donald Trump.

His scoop delivered plenty of news lines, but their friendship was also mocked, with a cartoon depiction of the pair on TV satire The Mash Report getting plenty of attention.

"For three days, my media rivals gorged themselves on all the news lines and, then of course, they couldn't bear it any longer and turned on me like a bunch of seething, jealous reptiles," he laughs. "Their fury made me so happy. It really enrages them that a friend of mine is President of the United States - and they can't get near him."

But we are here to talk about two other shows Morgan has recorded for ITV - Piers Morgan's Life Stories, featuring interviews with Pamela Anderson and Jim Davidson - and his Serial Killer programme.

Morgan has a soft spot for Anderson, whom he describes as a "modern day Brigitte Bardot sex symbol" and these days is known for her relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "Pamela has always been one of my pin-ups and I think probably for any man of my age," he says.

"Pamela in that swimsuit in Baywatch - I know you probably can't say this these days, but she was fabulous."

Comedian Davidson is "heartfelt" and "emotional" about his life, Morgan adds.

The former Generation Game host was arrested under Operation Yewtree on accusations of historic sex abuse before charges were dropped.

"He's been through a real roller-coaster life and he talks very candidly about it," Morgan says.

He would love to book two Dames - Judi Dench and Helen Mirren - on the show, but the presenter would never put himself through the same process.

"I just don't like emoting about my life," he says. "It's stiff upper lip stuff. It's just not my bag."

And he will definitely not be doing another reality show.

"I've only done one reality show and that was Celebrity Apprentice USA, which I won, and the President of the United States chose me as the winner. It's not going to get better than that, so I'm not going to do any more. I won't be munching kangaroo testicles in the I'm A Celebrity jungle."

Interviewing US prisoners for Serial Killer with Piers Morgan was much more "unnerving" than any jungle encounter with a critter could be.

"There was a moment when the guard drifted away and I suddenly thought, 'he's getting angry'," he says of one such encounter. "I thought, 'what if he actually jumps for me?' This is a guy who strangled people with his bare hands."

When the salaries of top BBC talents were revealed, Morgan joked that he earned £20m.

Today, he is keeping his ITV pay-packet secret and says he does not know what Good Morning Britain co-host Reid earns.

"The BBC has clearly been treating women in a very unfair way, in terms of salary and pay, and everyone can see that now.

"I honestly have no idea what Susanna is paid.

"We don't talk about our salaries.

"Mine is complicated, because I do lots of different shows, so it's probably hard to work out because we get paid for different things.

"But I don't think that either of us feel like we're being underpaid."

And for his fans, he has good news: he has no plans to leave his job on Good Morning Britain just yet.

"I really enjoy it and have great fun on the show, and working with Susanna's great for her, obviously," he jokes.

"We have good chemistry and people like it. It's unpredictable."

And that's something everyone can agree on.

Serial Killer With Piers Morgan, ITV, tomorrow, 9pm, and Piers Morgan's Life Stories, ITV, Saturday, 9.50pm

Belfast Telegraph


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