Gloria Hunniford said she “could hardly sleep with the excitement” ahead of her return to the Loose Women panel on Monday.
The Portadown-born television star joined panellists Andrea McLean, Nadia Sawalha and Brenda Edwards via video-link from her home in Kent, while they presented the programme from a London television studio with social distancing measures in place.
The daytime ITV show returned to TV screens last week after six weeks off the air due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gloria was welcomed back to the show with belated birthday wishes after turning 80 last month.
“I hate the number but I must admit that I’m very happy to be alive to celebrate it,” she said.
“It was a different celebration in that I was supposed to be in France and all of that of course went by the board, but each day I’ve been looking in my diary and thinking, ‘I should have been here’ or ‘I should have been there’ but it was alright in the end.”
She added: “This virus has hit everybody so hard, in terms of being worried about it or, unfortunately, the numbers are just so shocking that we’re afraid of it. I’m afraid of it so I was very happy just to celebrate at home.”
The TV presenter was “so pleased” to be surprised with a bouquet of flowers, presented by her husband Stephen Way (76), gifted by her Loose Women colleagues.
“I thought Stephen was interrupting a live broadcast by mistake, yet again,” she laughed.
As the panel discussed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday, Gloria voiced her confusion and frustration over the Government's new Covid-19 slogan, ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’.
“I’m dying to hug my grandchildren and my children, I really, really am," she said.
“But on the other hand, what really confused, I think, a lot of people in this country, and myself last night, you know, ‘stay at home’ we all understand and in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, that slogan still remains.
“When you change it to ‘stay alert’, I feel that alertness could be different. Nadia could be alert in a different way to me and vice versa, so I find this a bit confusing."
The Loose Women host, who has pre-diabetes, admitted she is terrified of the deadly virus and will be remaining indoors despite plans for lock down restrictions to gradually be relaxed.
“I am so afraid of the virus that I won’t go out more and stay alert and socially distance. I have been in voluntary lockdown since before the official one - nine, going on 10 weeks.
“Right at the beginning I was like a caged animal and couldn’t wait to get out but I think you get into a different rhythm.
“I’m so afraid of the virus and the terrible numbers, I’ve had to stop watching the late night news because I started to have terrible nightmares about the numbers increasing."