GMB host Richard Madeley’s life off-screen – dark family secret and strange first encounter with Judy

Richard Madeley is one of TV’s most well-known faces. He has a decades-long career presenting for Britain’s popular chat shows and is now a regular host for Good Morning Britain since Piers Morgan’s shock exit last year.

The 65-year-old made his telling breakthrough presenting This Morning with his wife Judy Finnigan. Viewers loved watching the pair so much that fans referred to the show as simply ‘Richard and Judy’ – which later inspired their own Channel 4 early evening show.

But what has Richard’s life been like away from the cameras? Richard grew up in Essex, and his father, Christopher Madeley, was also a journalist.

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He recently opened up about how his father used to beat him until the age of nine or 10, when his mother Mary intervened. Richard claims he suspects his father was sexually abused as a teenager when he was sent to boarding school.

He believes that this left his dad “broken” and “f***ed up” and may have been the reason why his dad hit him “five or six times a year” with a bamboo stick, reports the Mirror. Speaking to The Sunday Times Magazine, he said: “I just want to put that in context. I didn’t feel it was out of the ordinary — other boys got hit by their parents — but I didn’t like it. I wish it hadn’t happened.

Richard and Judy have been married for 34 years

“My father was basically f***ed up by boarding school. He was a very happy farmer’s boy, but when he was 15 my grandparents discovered he had the beginnings of a girlfriend, which they thought the road to perdition, so they packed him off to this ghastly place.”

Christopher died aged 49 while Richard had been on honeymoon with his first wife, Lynda Hooley, whom he married at 21. After his death, Richard said that his mum claimed he had never got over it, adding: “It broke him.”

His first marriage deteriorated and after five years, they divorced in 1983. A year prior, he had met Judy – who was at the time married to fellow journalist David Henshaw – when he joined Granada Television.

‘This Morning’ TV Programme, Liverpool, Britain. – 1988

As a more experienced journalist, Judy, now 73, first introduced herself to Richard as his mum. “I was sitting at my desk when this hand appeared on my shoulder and I looked up at this face and Judy said, ‘Hi, I’m your Mummy’ and I thought ‘Whaaaaat?'” Richard told the Mirror.

Explaining the joke, he continued: “At Granada when someone new arrived, someone was appointed as their dad or their mum to show them round – the canteen, the toilets and all that. So Judy was my ‘mum’.”

The pair both left their spouses and ended up marrying in 1986 in Manchester. Richard became stepfather to twins from Judy’s first marriage, and they then had two children of their own – Jack Christopher (born 1986) and Chloe Susannah (born 1987).

With their journalistic backgrounds and natural chemistry, they together fronted daytime show This Morning in 1988 and quickly became the nation’s favourites. They later snapped up their own Channel 4 show, Richard and Judy, in 2001.

Richard and Judy and their two children in 2002

The family lived in Manchester for many years, but now live in London. Writing in the Express in 2013, Judy, originally from Manchester, described living in the private cul-de-sac of Old Broadway, in Withington, as where they spent the ‘happiest years of their life’ watching their children grow up.

Over the past year, Richard has regularly appeared on our screens as a GMB host and even took part in the 2021 series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! – however he had to drop out of the reality show following a hospital visit. Despite his return to morning TV being warmly welcomed by some, the star is often likened to the comic character Alan Partridge, created by Steeve Coogan.

Richard is often compared to Alan Partridge

Richard has landed himself a few on-air blunders, where he has had to apologize for upsetting GMB viewers. He has admitted that he has a habit of addressing female interviewees as ‘darling’, which saw social media users call him out for being patronizing.

In the same week, he then referred to Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, as Keir Starmer’s ‘best girl’. But some of his faux-pas de él have been more light-hearted, like the time when he went on air looking ‘a bit orange’ that saw him trending on Twitter.

Richard explained: “It turned out, what I’d done is, at 3am, I’d put my daughter’s artificial tan on and it was strong stuff. It was humiliating. But the attention that that got! That’s funny and it was very funny.”

His daughter Chloe, who is married to former rugby star James Haskell, is expecting her first baby. Speaking on GMB, James described Richard as ‘the best grandfather’.

After being prompted by the news presenter, James said: “Well Richard, Chloe and I are expecting our first child. We are going to be having a little girl and you are going to be a grandfather once again… I’ve seen Richard with his other grandchild, Kit, and he’s the best grandfather in the world so I’m very, very happy.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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