Belfast Telegraph

Eamonn Holmes OBE: A down-to-earth genius who has triumphed in all areas of television

By Lindy McDowell

Congratulations Eamonn Holmes OBE. Or as we should perhaps more accurately call him, Mr Television OBE.

Because if one face has come to dominate and represent national television in the UK in the last 30 to 40-odd years, it is undoubtedly that of the genial man from north Belfast.

Eamonn Holmes seems to have been around for ever.

Even longer than Attenborough. But then, he started very young.

He was only 20 when he first appeared on local screens as the enthusiastic new face of Farming Ulster.

Within a few years he was the mainstay on UTV's flagship evening news programme, having taken over from the great Gloria Hunniford. This was only a stepping stone to a stellar television career that has since covered countless broadcasting nooks and crannies (Songs Of Praise, Have I Got News For You?, numerous game shows, the voiceover for Biggleton on CBeebies even) as well as some of the top jobs in the industry.

These include GMTV (with 'Princess Tippy Toes' Anthea Turner), Sunrise On Sky and, of course, This Morning with his co-presenter, his sassy wife Ruth Langsford.

To our delight Ruth, who is English by birth but Belfast by disposition, does not placidly defer to her man, regularly handing him out the odd, deserved slap-down.

Daytime TV has not been Holmes's only broadcasting billet. For six years between 2001 and 2007 he also presented Jet Set, the Saturday night National Lottery show.

At the time, in an interview, he described how he had always wanted to be Mr Saturday Night Television, evoking the golden years of telly when all the family had gathered round the box on that big weekend night for a show that delivered for everyone.

And a showman they could all relate to.

Like the Brucies before him, Holmes was that star.

The man who came into people's homes because he first came into people's hearts.

And not just on a Saturday night.

Eamonn Holmes' outstanding achievement, and it really is impossible to overstate this, is that he has triumphed right throughout the television schedule - the early morning, the mid-morning, the evening.

The secret of his success?

With Eamonn Holmes, what you get is what he is.

There is no artifice or pretension with the man. He's still the same down-to-earth boy from north Belfast who has never lost touch with his roots.

A man who just loves people. And Manchester United.

And viewers love him and they trust him. That is no small thing.

Inevitably, coming from here, there are some who would prefer he'd be a bit more tribal. Doubtless there will even be some who will sniff at that OBE.

Which is as sad as it is petty and predictable.

Because Eamonn Holmes is someone in whom we can all take enormous pride. And he is about more than just a great local success story.

There's no side to Holmes. He relates to all the ordinary punters out there, whoever and wherever they might be.

And he to them. Eamonn Holmes encapsulates the best of our local reputation for conviviality and big-heartedness and humour.

He's us - but on a good day.

The Eamonn in his name is said to have come from the TV star he was named after, Eamonn Andrews, long-time presenter of This Is Your Life.

In turn, Stephen Nolan has cited Holmes as a major inspiration for his own, not inconsiderable career.

And no wonder.

If they could bottle Eamonn Holmes there's not a broadcasting big name or a wannabe who wouldn't want to have some of what he's got.

Eamonn Holmes. OBE. Legend.

Belfast Telegraph

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