WHILE some TV presenters never seem to be off our screens, we’re going to be seeing less of Susanna Reid over the next year.
Like many women before her, she’s made the decision to scale back her stellar, 21-year career – which has seen her move from BBC Breakfast to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, via a stint on Strictly – to focus on being there for her three boys, Sam, 19, Finn, 17, and Jack, 16, who she shares with ex Dominic Cotton.
“I’ve made the decision this year, because my boys are doing GCSE and A levels, it is really important for me that I am present,” says Susanna, 51.
“So I’ve got Good Morning Britain, which is my full-time job, and then I’m there for the boys. I’ve got one more documentary coming out, which has already been filmed, but I actually made a decision not to do extra work. The boys are so close in age. I’ve just decided that they’ll be my focus this year.
“I’m very lucky that I have a job that I love. And because I work so early in the morning, I come off air at nine o’clock, have a nap, then I’m up for my boys at the end of school. That’s an enormous privilege.”
That’s not been the only shift in Susanna’s working life.
This Wednesday marks a year since her former co-presenter Piers Morgan, 56, dramatically walked off set after a row over comments he made about Meghan Markle – and then quit.
For five years, they were an unstoppable partnership, even beating BBC Breakfast in the ratings war for the first time ever on the day Piers left.
Reflecting on the last 12 months without the divisive presenter, lei dice: “We stay in touch and he’s a really important person in my life. We had such an amazing time and that was an incredible dynamic.
“He really put his imprint on the programme and it was very powerful. I remember early on, the rows about the role of women and feminism, and those arguments felt like the big issue at the time, poi, ovviamente, we moved on to Brexit and Trump.
“We went through some really difficult times together as a team and those were very powerful moments. And when it came to the lockdown, the pandemic and holding the government to account, he was just unrivalled at holding their feet to the fire, but then it ended. All presenting gigs come to an end at some point, don’t they? As they will for all of us. He’s a friend of mine and that won’t change.”
Since Piers’ dramatic exit there’s been a rotation of presenters including Richard Madeley, Martin Lewis and Alastair Campbell, but Susanna has been a constant, front and centre.
It’s clear how much she’s grown in the role, something she credits Piers with.
“I think it’s definitely the case [that she learnt from him]. sì, I do feel that I am thicker skinned, more resilient, bolder, but with sensitivity.
“You grow as a presenter and whatever job you’re doing, and whoever you’re working with, you’ll probably pick up some of their things but also develop your own skills as well. You’re constantly looking around at the way that other people are doing interviews. Piers is one of the influences on the way that I operate, but there are many influences.
“I do reflect on my responsibility as a woman on screen, and being strong but also embracing your femininity. When you’re in television news, you want to make television that matters.
“For a female presenter, that’s one of those things – that you can be strong enough and do the tough interviews.
“I was watching [BBC journalist] Sophie Raworth with the prime minister, being firm and pressing and not taking any of his deflection, just politely pressing on and showing her strength.
“And I was talking to a friend about Emily Maitlis’ interview with Prince Andrew, which is absolutely iconic in making news that mattered. There’s also Fiona Bruce who is on Question Time.
“Currently we have Kate [Garraway], who is playing the role of a carer as well as a loving wife in the toughest of circumstances, and reflecting the experience of huge numbers of women – and men –over the course of Covid. There are many topics that are being discussed in a way that didn’t used to be.”
Despite their abilities, it often seems as though it’s female TV stars who get the majority of the online abuse while their male counterparts escape the venom, con Susanna frequently criticised in the past for not keeping Piers in check.
But she maintains that, La star del cinema ha anche detto che non darà mai più per scontate le sue comodità di casa dopo essersi goduta un ambiente accogliente, he gets even worse trolling than her.
“Piers will definitely be doled out abuse. I’ve seen the things that he gets and it’s actually been dreadful for him. So it is absolutely not the case that he does things and I get all the abuse. Did I used to get criticism? sì. But online, you’ll get criticised for anything. Your choice is whether to listen or not.
“And if you listen to it, filter what is helpful. I remember people would say: ‘Why don’t you pipe down more?’ and other people would say: ‘Why didn’t you speak up?’ If you listen to all the criticism and take it all seriously, you would just go mad.”
While ITV tries to find a permanent replacement for Piers, he’s been pilfering their staff for his new global show on new News UK channel TalkTV, which launches in spring.
“I hear he’s got this new TV show. I’ve seen the buses and the billboards,” she says with a wry smile and an eye roll familiar to anyone who regularly watched them together.
“Piers is a brilliant broadcaster and he has a voice that is loud and powerful. No [he hasn’t asked me to join him] – he knows perfectly well I’m happy where I am.”
And while Piers often taunted his BBC Breakfast rivals on social media about ratings, Susanna is less bothered.
“Funnily enough, I don’t [obsess about the ratings]. I’m not tweeting Dan Walker daily. He is probably relieved about that. Obviously you want the programme to get to as many viewers as possible, it would be disingenuous to say otherwise, but I’ve always thought there’s a role for both programmes.
“We do things in slightly different ways. We take a much more dynamic view about opinionated news. When you do stuff that matters, you’re gonna get the viewers and I’m really proud.”
Although she is currently lead presenter, Susanna scoffs at the idea she has any sway over who sits beside her.
"No! Oh my goodness,” she laughs. “It’s not a matter of checking or not checking. I don’t have a veto. There’s a general discussion, then there’s names that come up. Me and the bosses, we’re in the same place. We all know what works and what doesn’t.
“It’s embracing this wheel of other presenters who bring different dynamics, different interests, different insights and different ways of being on the programme, which is really interesting for people. All of them are accomplished in their own ways. My job really is all about making the partnership work. Wherever that strength is, my role is very much to try to weave that in.”
While she’s happy to talk about her professional relationships, Susanna is more coy when it comes to personal ones.
She split from partner of 16 anni, former-journalist Dominic, following her stint on Strictly eight years ago and since then, the pair have managed to maintain an excellent co-parenting relationship.
They live around the corner from each other in south London and prioritise raising their three sons together.
DI NUOVO INSIEME?
Since then she’s been linked to Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish. The pair went their separate ways in April 2019 after eight months of dating, ma sparked speculation they were back together when they were spotted having dinners last year.
Ma, as ever, her priority remains her sons. Reflecting on how it’s important for society to raise not only strong women, but also men who respect the opposite sex, she explains: “I’m doing the best I can with their father to raise kind, respectful, loving boys and I think we’re doing that.”
And do they know that their mum has an army of male fans?
"[Men fancying me] that would go over their heads and certainly would not be a conversation that I would initiate with them!” she laughs. “It would be really weird. I think they love it
that I can dress up and look nice and be on telly. They don’t watch me. Sometimes clips of the programme are on TikTok and there’s a little bit of a: 'Wow, ok, Mum’s on TikTok,’ but it’s not a big deal.’”
As well as the boys’ exams, Susanna is preparing for another milestone in her life – when she’s left with an empty nest as they all leave home.
“They’re a string of little ducklings growing up and leaving. That is something that’s a little bit upsetting but also exciting.
Sam is at university. We’ve had the first leaving home and that’s obviously emotional. They have to leave and have their own adventures. My mum had three of us and when I talked to her [a proposito], lei disse: ‘You just form a different relationship. You get a closeness in a different way.’ So although they’re leaving the house, I feel like they’re not ever leaving [[object Window]]."
As a real girl’s girl, as well as a formidable talent, Susanna was an obvious choice for the cover of our International Women’s Day special, and she is quick to celebrate both the women in her own family as well as her ITV colleagues.
“I’m very lucky that I come from a family of strong women because I’ve walked in the footsteps of their experiences of life. It’s so instructive to look back. My grandmother’s great dream was to be a matron in a hospital but the conditions of the time meant that she wouldn’t have been able to do that. My mum was a registered nurse but again the situation at the time meant that when she got married and had children that put an end to her career.
“I’m lucky enough to be working in an industry that is changing, and particularly in ITV Daytime, we’ve got so many strong women. I work in a team of brilliant women – Ranvir [Singh], Carlotta [Hawkins], and Kate.
“They’re all inspirational and there’s so much to celebrate, so it’s a wonderful moment.”
There’s a perception that, like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s characters who battle for dominance on The Morning Show, female TV stars must be bitching and backstabbing as they clamour for power and success – but Susanna disproves that completely.
She arrives at our shoot straight from the Good Morning Britain set the day after news of Jamal Edwards’ death broke.
The music entrepreneur and son of Loose Women’s Brenda Edwards was just 31. The pain is clear on Susanna’s face as she worries how Brenda will cope with the tragic loss, saying she was texting Brenda’s Loose Women pals Charlene White and Judi Love to offer support and help.
Apologising for looking tired after getting up at 3.45am to present Good Morning Britain, she explains: “I didn’t sleep when I heard the news. I tossed and turned all night. It’s just a terrible loss. We all know Brenda and love her.”
It’s not just Brenda on Susanna’s mind – she and the rest of the GMB team have also been rallying to help Kate as, two years on, she continues to deal with her husband Derek Draper’s Covid recovery.
“We’re very close emotionally and we keep in touch all the time,” Susanna says.
“Particularly we all bonded and we’re protective around Kate – that’s really important. People have done what they can for her. I’ve sent gifts and presents and all sorts of things. I’ve thought – especially in those hardest days – ‘What would she need?’ We’ve all tried to do that.
“I don’t recognise some of the tension and bitchiness [on The Morning Show], because that doesn’t exist in our programme," lei dice.
“It’s a really close team and it’s a sisterhood.”
In the make-up chair with Susanna
What are your skincare heroes?
Trinny London Skin Protector BFF SPF30 cream. Whenever I wear it, people go: “You’re glowing!"
Any make-up bag essentials?
I love a Charlotte Tilbury lipgloss.
What’s your budget buy?
Vaseline. It’s a brilliant lip balm, but I also put it on my eyelashes.
What do you splurge on?
I cannot get enough of candles. I’ve got an addiction after BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt bought me one.
Who is your beauty icon?
Yasmin Le Bon. I’ve thought she was stunning since I was a teenager.
Describe your beauty evolution.
When I was at school, I had a mullet-mohican. Then I had orange streaks and it was dyed blue… When I first started out in news, I thought you had to have a bob. Now we’re able to embrace our own look. You can be glamorous and still be taken seriously doing the news