Eamonn Holmes goes for bust... presenter out to help special needs school by having 'my big head' cast expertly in bronze
As his wife Ruth Langsford hits the dancefloor for Strictly, Eamonn Holmes tells Una Brankin how he’s also trying something new for a good cause
While his wife Ruth Langsford spends hours in the arms of another man, Eamonn Holmes has been seeing another woman. But before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, the broadcasting legend points out that his meetings with sculptor Frances Segelman are for a good cause.
She is creating a bronze bust of Belfast-born Eamonn which he hopes will raise thousands of pounds for charity.
Certainly he is in good hands. Frances has produced bronze busts of various members of the royal family and she will put the finishing touches to her sculpture, in Eamonn's presence, on October 10 at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden at a star-studded event in support of Gesher School, a unique independent primary that provides a specialist learning environment for children with special educational needs.
Eamonn met the eminent sculptor while filming his Channel 5 series How The Other Half Live with his wife Ruth.
He says: "Of course Ruth said: 'Why on Earth would you get a bust of yourself done?' I said: 'Why not?' It will raise tens of thousands for charity. Then she was wondering where I'd put it - I said on the table in the front hall. She thinks it's ridiculous. She'll get tired of looking at it, but I won't!
"I've had to pose for hours but I didn't have to keep still and I talked away - it lets the sculptor see whether you're an extrovert or an introvert, or whatever. She reckoned I'm a much more serious person than what I let on."
Bronze is an inexact medium for catching a good likeness of a subject in a bust or statue. The recent renditions of Terry Wogan and footballing hero Ronaldo are case in point. Isn't Eamonn a little concerned over the way his will appear?
"No, I'm quite pleased with the way it looks. When you're a presenter like me, all people see when you're fundraising is your big, fat smiling face. This isn't grinning or gurning, and it's not too serious either.
"It's massive, though. Some people think I've a big head and it's true, literally. It's massive.
"When I'm filming anything that requires a helmet, they never fit me." Frances says of her latest commission: "Eamonn came to interview me for How The Other Half Live and asked me, if I had time, could I 'knock up a little sculpture' of him," she laughs.
"Well, I did something very quickly the night before he left, which wasn't very good, but he loved it and wanted me to finish it.
"Then Jonathan Sands, who owns the film museum, offered the venue free of charge for the Gesher School charity event, and now we have 250 coming to see Eamonn's sculpture being completed. There's a Q&A afterward, which will be such fun, as Eamonn's hilarious. I hope I have captured his wonderful sense of humour."
Meanwhile, Eamonn has been forced to take on the everyday tasks usually carried out by his other half while she rehearses her routines for BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.
"She has four-and-a-half days to practise for the next one - I think it's the Charleston. Meanwhile, I've to do the shopping and walk the dog and do the school runs and make the meals," Eamonn complains.
"I can't go to the football, I've no life! But I really am very proud of her."
Ruth (57) finished last on the opening show of the new Strictly series on Saturday after being hit with nerves.
Anton du Beke, the popular presenter's professional dancing partner, had to take her aside and stop her from watching their rivals while they waited their turn, when Ruth's collywobbles led her to fear she'd forgotten their routine.
Eamonn was in the studios to support Ruth, his regular co-presenter and sparring partner on ITV's This Morning programme.
"I really felt for her, coming bottom of the pile; it couldn't have been a worse start," he admits.
"I was watching her before she took to the floor and I saw her losing her breath and doing these big deep blow-outs.
"I know her so well; I could see she was very, very nervous. I looked at her and thought: 'She's gone'. And then she went and stumbled a couple of times. She'd had to wait an hour before taking to the floor, which made it worse for her.
"But I couldn't have been more proud of her. She did quite well given that, in the 21 years I've known her, she's never been a dancer, up on the table or anything. When she took to the floor I thought she was so beautiful, and it was like someone else had stepped into her body. I was so proud."
In July the mischievous 57-year-old, who underwent a double hip replacement last year, started rumours that he was lined up for Strictly when he shared a video of professional dancer Camilla Dallerup putting his moves to the test in the This Morning studios. Since it was announced that Ruth was taking part, he has been asked constantly if he's afraid of the 'Strictly curse' of the dancing partners falling for each other.
"One man's curse could be another man's blessing," he quips. "People ask if I'm jealous, but I'm so pleased for Ruth. It's a dream and a fantasy for a lot of women, I understand that. I can see the attraction, the escapism of dressing up and spinning around; being whisked around the dancefloor by a man.
"I can't dance; in fact, I wish I had taken Irish dancing seriously when I was young, or even ballroom, but it wasn't the thing in the Seventies. If I could go back I'd take dance lessons, and cookery lessons, too - that would have been more useful than maths."
Strictly's first live show absolutely dominated in the overnight ratings, becoming the most-watched programme of the night.
According to the BBC, the episode clocked up an average viewing figure of 9.3 million, peaking at 10.2 million with an audience share of 46.9%.
However, as an avid football fan, Eamonn was compelled to dash back home after the show last Saturday to watch Match Of The Day at 10.30pm while his daughter Rebecca stayed behind with Ruth for drinks.
"They went straight to the bar afterwards and had a lot of drinks - Ruth was the life and soul of the party, apparently," he laughs.
"I had to get home for the football, then Jack asked where his mum was.
"I called her but she wasn't answering her phone; nor was Rebecca. I got her about 12.30 and they were there with that judge Craig Revel-Horwood, having a great time, and didn't get home until 2am.
"It was a good way to unwind and, needless to say, she relaxed on Sunday, having that first bit done and over with."
Meanwhile, in a gig light years away from his previous Sky News anchor job, Eamonn is to become the voice of a children's animation show Biggletown on CBBC.
"It's like Trumpton, if you remember that," he explains. "It's a fantastic thing to think of my future grandchildren listening to me saying 'It's a funny old day in Biggletown' and all that.
"I'm enjoying it. I actually want to start my own production company and take the opportunity to make programmes on subjects that really interest me. But it's all about how much money is takes to make them and how much money you can get back.
"I'm too busy working to make money, if you catch my drift. But I've more time now that I'm not doing Sky News daily and I'll get around to it some day."
Self-taught Frances Segelman has risen to the top of her profession having sculpted a wide variety of public figures including the Queen (right), the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales (bottom right).
An established sculptor of personalities from the world of entertainment, politics and sport, Frances' recent commissions include the Duke of Kent, Boris Johnson, Joanna Lumley, Lord Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Steven Redgrave and Sergei Polunin.
Segelman is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and a Liveryman of the Painters and Stainers Livery Company.