Many of those commenting on Twitter found the “love-in” between Morgan and his “great friend” an uncomfortable watch that failed to properly question Trump on any of the important issues. But there was no doubt that it was an impressive scoop for ITV.
And ITV director of programmes Kevin Lygo has revealed at the Edinburgh Television Festival that the “bizarre” bond between the former Daily Mirror editor and the leader of the free world is absolutely genuine – with hugs and friendly questions from Trump about whether his hair was OK featuring in unaired footage.
“We only got Trump through Piers’ connection with him,” said Lygo. “They have this bizarre bromance. You only get a president for 15 minutes. But before he sat down, when you see the rushes, when they met, it was hugs, ‘how are you Piers?’ ‘lovely to see you Piers’, ‘I can’t believe you’re President’ ‘it’s good to see you”.
Lygo said that Trump asked Morgan “do you think that hair’s alright?” with Lygo joking to Edinburgh delegates: “Come on Piers, answer that one.”
Added Lygo: “Honestly it’s genuine. You want things like that all over the place to interrupt and enliven everything.”
But unfortunately, Lygo admitted that the show didn’t make a splash in the ratings.
It was watched by 3 million people on ITV – fewer than the 3.9 million viewers for the news on BBC1 at the same time.
“It rated quite badly, let’s be clear,” said Lygo. “But it’s great to have these things. It was talked about, it was noisy, it was new.”
Asked about Good Morning Britain’s general performance Lygo added: “It’s taken quite a while to get Good Morning Britain to where we want it to be. Piers is obviously horrendous.”
After the laughter died down, Lygo added: “No, no we love Piers…. I have a soft spot for Piers.”
“As long as we’re talking about him he’s happy. We’re in an era where the middle ground, the bland is the thing that really fails. And you want to be as far as you can within the bounds of good taste, loud and noisy and interesting and that’s certainly Piers. And he’s done a fantastic job and he’s allowed Susanna to become a saint for sitting next to him every day.”
But it isn’t just Trump who Morgan has a bromance with, according to Lygo. He said that the long-running Twitter duel with BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker is a confected joke.
“I think that Dan and Piers are mates and it’s actually a joke on the Twitter thing.”
Earlier in the session, Lygo disclosed that Declan Donnelly would have a temporary new sidekick for the next series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! when co-host Ant McPartlin takes time off following his conviction for drink driving earlier this year.