Susanna Reid reveals why she took her time to find love again with Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish and says 'she's happy' but remains coy about the relationship

“Yes, and funnily enough…” she laughs when those quotes are read back to her today.

The grin on her face speaks volumes. The news might have leaked a little sooner than Susanna would have liked, but since the summer she’s been in a relationship with dashing businessman Steve Parish – multimillionaire and chairman of her beloved Crystal Palace – after a long-standing friendship developed into something more.

“I’m happy and it’s nice,” she says, a little coy but still beaming. “It was really important to me, post the split with Dom, that I focused on work and the children. So, yeah, I did that, and obviously they are still the major focuses of my life.”

Asked about exactly when things became romantic, Susanna, 47, is vague.

“There was a friendship first,” she says, choosing her words carefully. “We were able to have a bit of time together before [the news got out] and I know it’s out there now. But while it’s no longer a secret, it’s definitely private, so I don’t want to talk too much about it.”

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Susanna and Steve, 53, hit it off two years ago in New York while she and Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan were in the States covering the American election. She says that Piers commented on the obvious chemistry between them at the time but she brushed it off.

“Piers said it then and I said: ‘No, that’s never going to happen!’ But, yes, we all went on a night out in New York. It was just a little party to mark the fact we were there.”

So is Piers taking the credit? He certainly revelled in teasing poor Susanna on GMB the day after the story broke, despite her bringing him a bottle of his favourite champagne as a bribe to go easy on her.

“Piers is actually blaming Donald Trump,” she replies, pointing out that if it hadn’t been for him, the aforementioned night out in the Big Apple would never have happened.

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Trying to coax any further details proves fruitless. With 25 years of journalism experience behind her, Susanna is more than capable of dodging and deflecting assertively, but always with good humour and without ever appearing curt or cross.

Does this mean lifetime free tickets to Crystal Palace?

“I can buy my own tickets to Selhurst Park. As I have done ever since I was a season ticket holder back in 1996.”

Has she been surprised by the interest in her love life? “It is what it is. That’s it!” Subject closed.

Steve isn’t the only new, ahem, development in Susanna’s life. In what Piers cheekily dubbed “the Crystal Palace diet”, she looks in fabulous form having lost 1st 9lb after a routine health check over the summer revealed she was at the “top end” of her BMI.

“I had no idea,” she says. “I think [the weight] had crept up over the years because you’re working hard bringing up children. That’s totally normal and what happens. So I thought let’s make a little change and see if that helps.

“The doctor said it would benefit my health if I lost some weight, and when I started to be a bit more mindful about what I was eating I became aware of just how much I was grazing. This was the big issue for me.”

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Susanna realised that her gruelling working hours were making her eating habits chaotic.

“Waking up stupidly early and napping during the day, I was getting up and calorie grabbing, stuffing my face,  and I realised I just can’t do that any more.

“I thought I was healthy snacking, walking past the cupboard in the kitchen and taking a handful of almonds or pumpkin seeds or having some avocado on rye bread, but it’s all absolutely stuffed with calories. So now it’s healthy meals and no snacking in between.

“No eating plan. No diet. It’s just something that works for me and my lifestyle. It’s what you want, need and can do.”

What also helped was giving up booze in August. Susanna initially thought she’d try it for a month, but here we are in December and she’s still teetotal.

“I can’t say I’m never going to drink again, but I feel so much more energy as a result. And as you get older it takes that little bit longer to get over a night out if you’ve had some drinks. I feel better.

“In my job you need to be sharp all the time, and while I never drank the night before a shift, I just feel I’m clearer and sharper and my memory is better without drinking.”

Does she miss it?

“There is definitely a bit of a loss, because in our culture big nights out are so centred around alcohol. And I used to  love a big night out. I was a social drinker, so that’s a shame.”

When asked what she drinks now, she grimaces.

“Sparkling water. It’s not quite the same as champagne or prosecco, is it? Nobody says it’s sparkling water o’clock. The issue is going to be my birthday [Susanna turns 48 in eight days] and Christmas, and I think I’ll really miss it around those times when you’d normally expect to throw yourself into the party spirit. December is a real party month. So far it’s been OK – December will be the big test.”

The third element to her weight loss is the most surprising: quitting the gym. Say what?

“I was finding that when I went to the gym it made me more hungry and I was just overloading myself,” she says. “I’m gently starting to go back.

“I still like to dance, and I do a little bit of Zumba, which I love. And I do want to go back to the gym regularly at some point but I needed to take it out of my schedule.”

She’s anxious not to sound preachy or give the impression that she’s advocating others follow her lead. She breaks off several times during our conversation to reiterate this.

“I am absolutely of the opinion that you only do with your body and your weight what you want to do. I’m fed up with that feeling of fighting your body – too many people feel that they’re constantly criticising themselves when they look in the mirror. But when you get a piece of health advice it’s very different. I’ve always wanted to lose a bit of weight here and there but I didn’t realise how simple it actually was.

“But this is entirely personal, and it’s my journey, as people say.”

It’s been nearly five years since Susanna made the switch from BBC Breakfast to GMB, just a few months after finishing as runner-up on Strictly. Piers joined the team a year later, initially as a guest presenter, but producers soon made him a permanent addition. The Susanna and Piers Effect has seen the show reaching over 3 million viewers every day, and ratings are currently the highest they’ve been since the show launched in 2014.

It’s a partnership that entertains and infuriates viewers in equal measure.

“Good Morgan Britain I call it,” says Susanna, rolling her eyes. “Not really. He couldn’t do it without me.”

Of course he couldn’t. The yin to his yang (and the reason to his rants), Susanna has the measure of Piers, knowing exactly when to let him bluster and when to rein him in. Sometimes she’ll shut him down with plain common sense, sometimes she fights back in disbelief, and on other occasions a withering raise of an eyebrow suffices.

She admits it took her a while to figure out the relationship and yes, it was tough in the beginning, but she now counts him as a close friend.

“Oh we’re friends, without a doubt. I mean, genuinely good friends. It took a while, though, and it was challenging at the beginning. Those arguments we had about women’s issues, for example, felt quite personal to start with.

“But one of the lessons I’ve learned through this kind of working relationship is it might not work at  the beginning, but stick at it and think about what you genuinely feel and what your opinion is.

“Now it’s developed into more trust, and we respect each other. I know he’s got my back and that’s really important. It might not look like that on air, but off air he’s a good friend.

“I love him and I hate him and I’ve never felt like that about anyone.”

Most people express sympathy when talking to Susanna about Piers (“they ask me how on earth I put up with him”). She acknowledges that he interrupts, dominates the conversation and generally gets away with it, primarily because he’s a man.

“In a broadcasting environment, people will allow the man to do a lot of the talking. But when a woman speaks up and speaks back, she’s accused of talking too much. Sometimes you have to roll with the fact you’re going to get criticised and not be cowed by that, but my current pinned tweet says: ‘God forbid a female broadcaster should have a voice and confidence…’

“It’s that idea of ‘pipe down, love’. You’re talking too much, you’re too smug, you’re too confident. But do not expect me to be there on television just as a decorative aid. Using my voice is precisely why I’m there.”

Does Susanna ever feel like Piers goes too far? Was it right that he said people with mental health issues needed to “man up”? Or referred to “rabid feminists” on the “vacuous” Women’s March held in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory?

“Of course he’s going too far for some people, but there are always people who think he says it how it is,” she says.

“There’s a whole spectrum of views, and it helps  that we have these discussions. It’s not Piers on his own spouting this stuff with no one challenging him or holding him accountable. It’s an ongoing conversation and people get all sorts of things out of it as a result.

“I’ll regularly take him to task if I think it’s helpful to hear another view on a certain story. I have a Piers filter in my head all the time, thinking: ‘How much of this  is helpful to me and to the audience?’ and then I’ll interject. He’ll either disagree or he’ll take it on board. Mostly he’ll disagree.”

Ewan McGregor pulled out of a planned GMB appearance the day after as a direct response to Piers’ Women’s March comments.

“Yes, and that was a shame,” says Susanna. “I just thought if you’re worried that Piers is putting too much of his opinion out there, come and challenge him. Come in and debate with him! We’ve definitely had frank discussions, but it doesn’t happen so much now because we’ve got into a groove. People love what we do. I love that our debates fire people up.”

GMB’s recent coverage of the knife crime crisis in London, which has seen a spate of teenage murders over the last few weeks, has been particularly powerful, with a visibly upset Susanna unafraid to show emotion while covering the story.

“I’m a mother of three teenagers in south London,” she says. “I mean, what the heck is going on? When the 16 year old was stabbed to death outside Clapham South Tube station – that’s on my doorstep. The day after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death in a chicken shop, and now another boy of 16… These are children. My god, we are failing these children.

“I’m speaking for many, many mothers and I’m not frightened of showing those emotions. In fact, I think it’s really important to.

“This isn’t just an academic issue where I’m switching off after four minutes because we’ve moved on to the next item. This is my life. This is my kids’ lives and their friends’ lives and the lives of the people in my community, and it’s not good enough to be told [by mayor of London Sadiq Khan] we’ll have it fixed in a generation, because what about the next parent who loses a child?

“It absolutely breaks my heart. So if I can in any way open up the debate and make the mayor realise how passionate parents feel… I just hope it helps.”

Despite her fears, she says she affords her own boys – Sam, 16, Finn, 14, and Jack, 13 – a lot of freedom.

“I’m very trusting of them and I think they’re pretty sensible. I give them a lot of independence. I really admire them, actually. There are a lot of challenges and they’re getting through it. They know they can talk to me about anything.”

Exact plans for Christmas are likely to be last-minute, but Susanna will be in London with the boys. They will also see Dom, which is “easy” as she and he are still on good terms.

“The main thing for me is that the children love it. They love the stockings, the presents, they love it being a family occasion. The boys will see Dom on Christmas Day – we split it just like I did with my parents [who divorced when Susanna was nine]. That’s the reality of split families, but we get on so well that it works really nicely. It’s absolutely vital that it’s easy for the boys.”

Will she be spending Christmas with Steve?

A steely stare. “I’ll be spending Christmas,” she says, breaking into a smile, “with my family.”

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  • Fave platform? Instagram for the positive messaging and Twitter for opinion.
  • Funniest on Twitter?  I won’t say Piers. Richard Osman from Pointless (@Richardosman) is brilliant.
  • Fave on Insta? @Thegoodquote – some nice little quotes that keep me going and motivate me.
  • Are you on Facebook? I’m on there but I don’t really use it.
  • Who influences you? I enjoy James O’Brien from LBC – he has a clever way of dealing with trolls. Gary Lineker has a massive platform and has got bolder and bolder. Gaby Roslin for style.
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