Whatever you think about Good Morning Britain’s host Piers Morgan, there’s one thing we can undoubtedly agree on – he has the Marmite effect.
But love him or hate him, there’s no denying he gets the nation talking. When we meet at ITV’s headquarters in London, he’s eager to chat about himself (naturally) and his returning TV shows, Life Stories and Serial Killer.
But he’s not short of an opinion on everything and everyone else – from his co-host, Susanna Reid, to former Britain’s Got Talent boss Simon Cowell.
Here, dad-of-four Piers, 52, dishes the dirt on his Twitter addiction, playing Cupid and how his wife, Celia, gets her own back on him…
“If you asked what I get most pleasure out of doing on TV, I’d say the morning show is the one I really love. It’s been an unexpected joy and people seem to like it, which is staggering to me!’
“I changed my hours on Good Morning Britain. I threatened to quit in the summer – I was coming in at 4am and it was killing me. Now they let me come in at 5.30, and when we move studios to White City, I’ll be able to roll out of bed at 5.50am.
“Are the others jealous of my lie-ins? Probably! But it’s a double-edged sword – they take the time to look how they want to look on screen. I don’t care.
“I come in, I’m in make-up for three minutes, put the suit on and go. But it’s different for women. There’s more attention paid to how they look. So Susanna, Charlotte Hawkins and Kate Garraway come in about an hour earlier, because they know that they have to look perfect or they’re going to get a barrage of abuse. I get a barrage of abuse anyway, whether I’ve got make-up on or not!
“I don’t like seeing Susanna do too well. Her last documentary did really well, and I was actually really annoyed about that. [Laughs] No, we have a laugh about it. We have a healthy rivalry. We pretend to be really pleased for each other when our individual primetime shows do well.
“My daughter [Elise, six] thinks it’s quite funny that I’m on TV. The other day she said, “Daddy, are you famous?” Once Idina Menzel came on the show and I got her to sing Let It Go, and that to Elise was like seeing her father’s finest hour. But she’s quite feisty and she tells me off.
“Does my wife ever tell me off? It’s more the silent treatment! If I’ve done something particularly stupid, an ice descends on the house for a few minutes. But she’s very placid about it all. She knows I have a fairly ridiculous job that’s based around my opinions. And if you’re very opinionated, then people either agree with you or they don’t. If they do, they tend to like you, and if they don’t, they tend to hate you.’
“A month without Twitter? A day would be a struggle! I woke up this morning at 3am and thought I should go back to bed – but then I saw a few people having whacks at me, knew I had to respond or it would show weakness. Then suddenly you think, ‘What are you doing?! It’s 3 o’clock in the morning!
“Helen Mirren would be great on Life Stories – but there is a slight problem. I interviewed her when she played the Queen and got her to admit that she liked cocaine when she was younger. The headline was, “Queen: I love coke.” She said, “You got me into so much trouble!” Some people feel comfortable doing those kind of interviews and some don’t. I wouldn’t do it with myself, honestly.’
“I have set up two famous couples in my time. Heather Mills and Paul McCartney – which Stella McCartney reminded me of a few years later, saying, “Thanks, you cost dad $50 million!” And the other is Christine and Frank Lampard. I am trying to set up my son Spencer with Toff, as they’re old buddies.’
“Would I return to Britain’s Got Talent? If Simon makes me an offer I can’t refuse – and frankly, looking at the performance of David Walliams, that should come sooner rather than later – then I’m available.”
✱ Serial Killer with Piers Morgan airs on 1 March at 9pm on ITV, and Piers Morgan’s Life Stories: Pamela Anderson airs on 3 March at 9.35pm on ITV.