As Northern Ireland exports go, Eamonn Holmes is about as successful as they get. As well as huge back catalogue of top-notch TV, he's got a celebrity wife - the stunning Ruth Langsford - a regular gig on one of telly's biggest shows, and he even had a cameo role in the movie version of Mrs Brown's Boys.
And this week the broadcaster, who grew up in north Belfast, took the reins from Stephen Nolan on the Biggest Show in the Country.
"It's so important to do Stephen proud," says Eamonn, who regularly fronts ITV's This Morning alongside wife Ruth.
"He's created an institution. I'm not Stephen, Stephen's not me, so I have do his show in a way that will do him proud, but I suppose differently, in a way that's honest to me.
"Stephen is a complete tour de force. He's created that show out of nothing so you have to be careful. It's like someone handing you the keys to their car - you don't want to bring it back scratched or dented."
But surely the presenter couldn't do too much damage in a week?
"Don't you believe it!" laughs Eamonn, speaking early in this week's run on Radio Ulster. "Live broadcasting is so precarious. It's not like being recorded, where you can edit things how you want. Live broadcasting is increasingly precarious because there are people who wake up in the morning and they just want to take offence.
"If your line of questioning isn't in agreement with their thinking or philosophy then they can somehow turn that into how you've made a statement or you're saying something - when you're really not.
"I'm only asking a question. If they don't like the question, they're offended by it. A lot of people wake up wanting to be affronted. Every single day there are people who try and have you sacked. Every single day."
But taking a detached stance, Eamonn (60) believes it's not presenters like him, but viewers who "lose out" in the end.
"You get what you complain about, really," he says. "Basically you get this increasingly vanilla style of broadcasting. That's why I take my hat off to Stephen Nolan for doing what he does. I think there's a certain blandness coming in, and thank goodness there are people like Stephen Nolan, or Piers Morgan, who are not there to accept that."
And while Good Morning Britain's frontman Morgan in particular might be happy to air his views and lock horns with just about anyone, Eamonn says he's not there to force his opinions on the world.
"I'm just doing my job," he says. "I'm not an opinion former or an opinion maker. I don't sit and give my opinions, but I will sometimes correct people or robustly ask them a question, which is a totally different thing."
But earlier this year, at the height of the pandemic, Eamonn came under fire for casting doubt on media organisations he said were "slapping" down the myth that 5G spread coronavirus.
"I disagree with lies that are told about me," he says. "I didn't at any stage say coronavirus was spread by 5G.
"The thing that disappointed me most was that most of the criticism came from journalists, young journalists maybe, who weren't questioning, and now suddenly we're six months into this pandemic and everybody wants to question.
"I'm not talking about this same thing, I don't for one second believe that 5G spread coronavirus. But I respect anybody's right to ask any question about any thing. I don't have any beliefs outside my family that I want to get sacked or die for."
And with family front and centre in his life, the presenter reveals he's back home in Northern Ireland now more than ever.
His two eldest children, Declan (30) and Rebecca (28), are based here while 27-year-old Niall moved across the water to work with his dad and Loose Women star Ruth.
"Niall left Belfast to work with me and he basically keeps Ruth and me on the road," says Eamonn. "My youngest son Jack is 18 now, and he's training to be a sports reporter. He's English, but he's very proud of being Northern Irish too. We all feel a powerful connection with home."
So powerful, in fact, that Eamonn commutes between his home in Surrey to his home in east Belfast as often as every other week.
"Yes I'm a big secret here," laughs the star, who remains close to his brothers Leonard, Brian, Colm and Connor. "I certainly spend every other weekend here, if not more. And increasingly so as my mother Josephine gets older."
But as much as he's dedicated to coming home a lot, he balks a bit at the suggestion the commute isn't all that bad.
"Well it's not great," he says. "Anybody who says commuting is easy, hasn't done it. I end up seeing the same people all the time, especially now the flights are restricted. You see people who stand out because you recognise them from times before.
"In fact, the thing that amazes me is there was a man sitting beside me last Friday. He'd flown in from the Middle East. So many people live in Northern Ireland and work somewhere else in the world, for all sorts of different reasons, they send their children to school here, they have a good quality of life, maybe their wives have a strong family circle here that's important.
"These are all things they would give up if they lived elsewhere, so the call of home is very, very strong for a lot of people.
"I've commuted since, I suppose, 1991, and yes it was harder then than it is now, but I wouldn't say it's easy. The fastest you can do it door to door is four hours, but that's even not the draining part.
"The draining part is asking yourself, have I got the car keys, have I got my house keys with me, where did I put my glasses, have I got my credit card? There are all these things you need and all these things to consider, so it's not as easy as people might make out."
And like it was for everyone else, travel of course was restricted for Eamonn throughout the lockdown - meaning the longest time in years without a trip home.
"Well, Ruth and I worked through it all," he recalls. "We were deemed in broadcasting to be essential services and although we had different projects cancelled because of what happened, we basically haven't stopped working.
"I didn't get home though. That's the longest period I've not been back to Belfast, three months or so. My mother is 92 and she's very, very frail so we had to stay apart like everyone did."
And with huge changes not only to family life but to the way presenters like Eamonn work, sadly like many of us, the star expects the pandemic to leave a lasting mark.
"Things will change," he says. "The audience gets used to seeing people on the end of a Zoom call or FaceTime, and TV companies will naturally look and say, is it worth paying train, plane, taxi fares, make-up artists to be in the studio for every guest?
"The audience begins to accept changes, with so many different things happening. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it's hard to put back in. There will be changes, but there will be in all sorts of industries.
"The hardest things for all of us is the wondering, when or if it's going to go back to how it was - will we have Christmas pantos, will we have Easter next year, will we have holidays? What is going to happen? It's a different world and it's hard for all of us.
"What do I know, really? The same as anyone else. But what I do know is that in north Belfast where I'm from the suicide rate is the highest in the whole of Europe. Not just Belfast, not just Northern Ireland or Ireland or the UK. The whole of Europe.
"We have people with lots of problems and we have to realise it and try and change that. We have to look at the infrastructure and what's in life or not in life that we've got to change and bring into people's lives to bring them some joy and happiness."
But with a talent for making people smile - especially alongside wife Ruth - bringing an element of fun to people's lives through his work on screen and on the airwaves is a big part of Eamonn's schtick.
"You can only hope more people like you than don't like you. I actually used to think everybody liked me - until I discovered social media," he laughs. "In normal circumstances you just sail through life. No one has ever stopped me and said horrible things to me.
"People are only ever lovely and approachable, kind, nice. I meet hundreds and hundreds of people, but on social media, my goodness, I just look and think people can be so po-faced.
"It's as if they don't smile, they don't laugh.
“They are so serious. When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts usually range from, I wonder is there any milk for my tea, or bread for my toast. Are the kids up before me, is the water hot for my shower, or I hope I don’t have a flat tyre because I really need to get somewhere.
“But there are people who think other things first — and I’m not even going to name any of the potential issues they’re thinking about because I’ll be the worst in the world for picking one of them. They’re thinking about very worthy, brilliant, political ideologies, very good.
“But these kinds of things would be maybe eighth, ninth, tenth on my list of thoughts in the morning.
“Yes it’s nice to be serious, but it’s also nice to be nice. It’s also nice to be funny and have a bit of levity in your life. I think the thing about it is I can ask questions because I can see both sides to pretty much everything. I can genuinely see both sides.
“It’s not for me to let anybody have a party political on whatever subject it is, you just can’t turn the airwaves and say whatever you want for the next three minutes. But if I put the other opinion to them, or contradict them, I’m the worst in the world. I’m some sort of bigot, I’m biased and I’m this, I’m that. Well that is patently not true.
“But it seems like there’s a whole generation of people who now think like that, who don’t want to hear an opposing opinion, who don’t think there is an opposing opinion. You just think, whatever. I’m confident enough in my own view of life to listen to someone else’s argument.”
Northern Ireland is a slightly different case though, says the star.
“We have a population here that’s so politically educated and astute, more so than in other parts of the UK,” says Eamonn. “Maybe the one thing, the one redeeming factor we have is that we can be serious when we need to be, but we can be funny too when we need to be funny.”
But the star is happy to hit back when he feels he needs to — something he did earlier this year about the way an episode of Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox was edited.
The problematic segment came after he and Ruth were seen watching the BBC One programme Ambulance, which featured a young boy who was able to resuscitate his father who had suffered a heart attack.
Mirroring the death of his own dad Leonard, who passed away after suffering a heart attack while travelling home from a break in Ballycastle, the TV extract was particularly moving for the star.
Yet on the edit that aired on Channel 4, the powerful extract was followed by a clip of Eamonn joking that he’d been his wife’s ambulance driver when she went into labour with their son.
“That was very upsetting,” says the broadcaster. “I hate injustice and when it’s non-reflective of you and that’s not what you said, that’s an injustice.
“It brings out the fighter in me. I had said amazing things about the ambulance service, I said amazing things about the people who tried to save my father’s life and this wonderful young boy on the programme saving his father’s life.
“I talked about my own father dying near Armoy on the road from Ballycastle. All that was cut out because I gave them a funny line. But we did resolve it. They admitted their mistake and said sorry, and that was the end of it.”
And with life in the public eye, combined with the pressures that come with social media, how does Eamonn cope with it all?
“You just get on with it and dust yourself down,” he says. “You go out and do your job as best you can. You think of coming off social media sometimes, but then I think nah, I’m not going to bother.
“But you share less and give out less. The way things have gone, everyone loses. Everyone now, they increasingly just bite their lip.
“You can only hope more people respect you than don’t, whether they like you or not. I think I’m lucky in that I’m a robust sort of character. I can usually regroup and move on and I feel lucky that I’m relatively resilient, and I think that’s down in many ways to temperament.
“Family is very tight with us and I’ve never lost sight that first and foremost I’m a Belfast man. I’m very proud of Belfast and I’ll always fight the corner of Northern Ireland. There are the most fantastic people from here who do so well. The number of Northern Ireland people who run the country in England is unbelievable, whether that’s people in orchestras, civil servants, captains of industry, painters and decorators, whatever they do.
“We’re a million and a half people, yet we do so well.
“It’s unfortunate we still educate people here to work elsewhere, but we punch above our weight and that’s something to be very proud of.”