'Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life'
From Ninja Warrior to Good Morning Britain to Tipping Point, Ben Shephard has a full-on schedule - but he wouldn't have it any other way
Tipping Point has no shortage of celebrity admirers - but even long-time host Ben Shephard was surprised to discover its latest convert. For it seems the daytime quiz show, which sees four players take on an extraordinary machine (think arcade-style penny falls) in the hope of winning a cash jackpot, has proved quite the hit in the Dench household.
"The other week I went into my dressing room on Good Morning Britain and there was a signed photo on my desk..." Shephard (44) begins.
"It said, 'Hi Ben, thank you for letting me use your dressing room. I just wanted you to know that we love Tipping Point in our house, lots of love Ju'. It was from Dame Judi Dench!" he recalls.
"I was like, 'Someone's having a laugh,'" he admits.
"But she'd taken the time to write it, so that's pride of place now. I've moved the kids off the mantelpiece."
Since its inception in 2012, the ITV series has gone from strength to strength, doubling the slot's average share with its latest episodes and breaking the three million and 30% share mark for the first time, with a consistent reach of nearly 8.5m viewers a week.
It's even branched out into celebrity specials known as Tipping Point: Lucky Stars - and recently Shephard filmed its 10th series, and 1,000th episode, both of which will air next year.
So why is it so popular?
"I've worked in telly for quite a long time now, but what you can never really be sure of, is how something will translate," Shephard muses, confessing he struggled to understand the concept in its initial stages.
"But we've somehow been able to take the little bit of nostalgia you get from that machine and put it into people's front rooms."
He continues: "But I think there is a number of reasons: The level of questions is really accessible, but also, the machine is a real leveller."
"You can have brilliant general knowledge, but the machine might not take a liking to you and that might make it really difficult," he elaborates.
"The element of luck, balanced with the need to answer questions and buzz in and give general knowledge, makes it a level playing field."
Yet, having been in the business for over two decades, Shephard refuses to take the show's success for granted.
"One of the things - and I've talked to Bradley Walsh about this, and Alexander Armstrong from Pointless - is that you can't underestimate what a privilege it is to be in someone's household," he notes.
"There's a sense that you're in the room with them in a very cosy way," he reasons, keen to make it "the best possible experience" for viewers.
"I've done a thousand of these shows now, so I've stood 4,000 contestants!
"It's something like 65,000 questions I've probably asked; we've given away nearly £4m, and I still get as much delight, no matter how tired I am or how many I've done.
"I'm just obsessed by it!" concludes the father of two.
It's still a far cry from Shephard's other weekday gig, co-hosting the ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain, alongside Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway.
"Oh, I don't know, the machine can be just as tricky as some Brexit negotiations..." he teases, addressing the contrast.
"The lovely thing about Good Morning Britain, particularly, is that it's live, and there's nothing like being live to keep you on your toes.
"Breaking news and the nature of that show, and how much goes into it, is really exciting - it's a real test of your different skills," he adds.
"But [Tipping Point] is my show; this is the show that is an absolute baby for me and it's been nurtured and evolved from its initial incarnation to where it is now."
Shephard also co-presents ITV's Ninja Warrior in addition to Sky Sport's Goals On Sunday, alongside Chris Kamara.
"It means I can have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and not get too consumed by each of them," he says.
"It's not like having a proper job - all of this works at the same time..." he says. "Ninja is in the can, I'm doing Tipping Point at the moment, Good Morning Britain on Thursdays and Fridays, and Goals On Sunday," he lists.
"Someone once said to me, 'Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life' and I don't think anything could be more true."
"I wouldn't ever deny the fact that I have been very lucky to have the opportunities that I've had," he finishes. "And hopefully I can keep enjoying them all and doing the best job I can."
Tipping Point airs weekdays on ITV at 4pm