Former This Morning presenter Fern Britton has admitted she never watches the show now it’s hosted by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
“I don't watch,” she told the audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. “It's like selling a house that you love - you can't go back. My husband [Phil Vickery] still cooks on it, but I can't even watch him.”
Britton, who left This Morning in 2009, was at the festival to discuss her semi-autobiographical novel New Beginnings, the story of a woman struggling to survive in the TV industry. But she played down her own experiences of sexism: “We forget that men are constantly pushed out of their jobs [in TV],” she said. “They're turfed out because they're surplus to requirements or considered too old. They don't whinge about it.”
Britton is currently filming a third series of Fern Britton Meets…, her faith-based BBC1 interview show which is to be shown in the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. “I interviewed Ann Widdecombe at her house on Dartmoor. It doesn't matter what you think about her politics, she is such good company. Very funny. I asked her if she's watching Strictly. She said, 'Of course I am! I vote for Anton all the time. And I'm very glad Edwina's gone.'”
Asked if she was a Strictly fan herself, Britton said: “Who doesn't love Strictly? I did the Christmas special last year and I adored it, so if they were to ask me to do the full series I'd probably say yes.”
That’s the only celebrity contest that interests Britton, however. “I wouldn't do I'm a Celebrity because I try not to whinge, and on there I would whinge, whinge, whinge. Dancing on Ice? I went skating at the weekend and my back still hurts, I fell over so much - but I don't think I’d ever be asked.”
Britton revealed that former Boyzone singer Shane Lynch is also an interviewee in the new series of Fern Britton Meets, with two more guests to be confirmed. “He had no faith at all,” Britton said of Lynch, “and was going down a very dark path - ouija boards and all sorts of different things. Then he suddenly found an enormous faith.”
Britton also looked back to the first series of Fern Britton Meets in 2009, when an admission by Tony Blair made international headlines. “It's taken me a long time to realise it, but I like being underestimated. If people think of you as fluffy, sitting on a sofa in daytime and that's about it - if they want to think you're not ready to have a go, that's fine by me. I asked him about the night before he knew he was sending troops into Iraq - did he speak to anybody? He said no, there was nobody to talk to. I asked, did he speak to God? He said no because 'what could God tell me?' which I thought was interesting.
“The way he was talking, it suddenly dawned on me, so I said, 'You would have gone in even if there hadn't been weapons of mass destruction?' and he said yes. Of course afterwards, when he was at the [Chilcot] enquiry, he said, 'Even I sometimes get tripped up.' And I thought yeah, yeah you did!"
(Blair’s exact words were: “Even with all my experience in dealing with interviews, it still indicates that I’ve got something to learn about them.”)
Radio Times is a media partner at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, which runs until 16 October.