Richard Arnold is happier than ever to be bumping into the likes of Daniel Craig and David Beckham on the red carpet once again since showbiz events are firmly back on his social calendar.
Admitting that the past 20 months have been a challenging time in his line of work, he says there’s now a real sense of “giddiness” when the stars assemble and confesses he loves to see them “skipping along with fist bumps and elbow rubs”.
As we have a catch up with the showbiz expert, 51, over the phone before he goes to have lunch with his mum, he opens up about what the Good Morning Britain newsroom is like without Piers Morgan…
Hi Richard! What’s it like being a part of the Good Morning Britain family?
It’s where you get to meet the people in the news, whether they’re a celebrity or they just have a great story to tell. That’s the joy of GMB. You don’t know whether you’re going to meet the Prime Minister or an Olympian. It’s obvious we all get on because we grill each other so openly on air. There’s nothing said behind each other’s backs because we say it to their faces on air.
What’s it like without Piers Morgan?
Piers broke the mould. He challenged the whole landscape. I saw him recently – we chatted about how proud he is of the show and what you achieve there, in terms of setting the agenda with politicians and taking them to task with the pandemic. I loved working with him. He could have an argument with a grasshopper. He’d go off on a tangent and we’d all be there trying to bring it back, but it just felt exhilarating every time.
Do you miss him?
Piers had his own trademark when it came to presenting and everyone else has their own style. The five years we were all there, we had great fun as a team. We kept it real throughout the whole time. Piers was a team player and he’s an incredibly loyal player as well. He raised everybody’s game.
You previously took part in Strictly. Are you still in touch with anyone from the class of 2012?
I saw Anton Du Beke this week. He’s a great mate of mine, as I was partnered up with Erin Boag, his professional partner, in 2012. I asked him what he thinks of the line-up. He said he can tell they’re nervous, which is inevitable and he knows that because he’s a performer. He said the thing people don’t realise is, it’s not just nerves on Strictly, it’s fear. It is an absolute fear of going down those steps, never mind doing a whole routine.
Tell us what it has been like being able to attend red carpet events again…
I am celebrating blinking into the new normal with the bright lights of everything opening up. I must admit, I wouldn’t like to be locked up again. It was great to see everyone in their finery at the Men Of The Year GQ Awards. There was a real giddiness about it. You could tell that even the most hardened hacks and showbiz legends were on the red carpet skipping along with fist bumps and elbow rubs.
How did you find being “locked up” during lockdown?
We’ve all missed that buzz. I remember when the pubs first opened again, I took my mum for a nice glass of wine. It was freezing and we sat outside and she was saying how lovely it was to hear the chatter. I was happy to hear sets of cutlery clattering. It was sad when it was locked down. I remember cycling from north London to see my mum in west London and it was heartbreaking to see this great city of ours so quiet. You just thought, “Is she ever coming back?”
What did you do to keep busy?
I did a lot of Lego and brought a lot down from the loft. It was bizarre for me, as my job is all about interviewing people and the world of showbiz became irrelevant overnight. It was quite weird not having a narrative going through it. But you were doing your bit by staying at home. Looking back now, I think a lot of us are realising how much it did affect us, even when we felt like one of the lucky ones.
You’re working with Sue Ryder’s campaign Grief Kind – tell us about that…
Losing my dad four years ago was totally unexpected because he was incredibly healthy. It was a massive shock for me and my mum as I’m an only child. They were married for 60 years. But most recently, a family we’re very close to lost their 21-year-old son in a tragic accident. Sue Ryder got in touch when we held a memorial for him to celebrate his life, so that’s why I wanted to be involved with this campaign.
Richard is supporting Grief Kind, which aims to equip people with the confidence to support friends and family through grief.
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