“I saw a ghost in a hotel room… sitting on the side of my bed, so I reached down for my trusty torch that I always take with me, and this figure at super-fast speed stood up across the room. I went after it and whatever it was had vanished.”
Welcome back to This Morning Richard Madeley, you’ve been missed.
Yes, the unflappable presenter was back with wife Judy Finnigan at the helm of the ITV show for the first time in 18 years this week – and he made no attempts to suppress his inner Alan Partridge, reeling off a string of eyebrow raising anecdotes and delivering the odd toe-curling joke. And we all loved it.
The double act, who launched This Morning 31 years ago, once vowed never to return, but any apprehension about coming back was blown into non-existence as they opened Friday’s show with Judy drumming the table and Richard treating the set like his own living room; lounging back on the sofa and sipping his drink while chatting to guests who felt more like neighbours who’d popped in to borrow a tea bag than guests being interviewed on live TV.
There wasn’t anything quite as spectacularly cringe as the time he opened an episode dressed as Ali G and kept shouting “Booyakasha” at Judy, although it was referenced, or when he informed viewers that men have a left testicle bigger than the right. But he was at times as exaggerated as ever, pressing his ear piece and giving the camera his best blue steel as he told viewers: “I’m… I’m hearing that we might have a sample [of Louise Redknapp’s new single]”.
But for all we laugh at Richard, both he and Judy aren’t afraid to grill guests, and neither beats around the bush in their quest for a firm answer. Richard had no qualms about telling Jeremy Corbyn his poll ratings are “awful” before asking if he is scared of a general election.
On Louise Redknapp’s marriage to Jamie he blurted out: “Can I ask what went wrong or is that asking too much?” You feel you can’t not answer politely. It would be like slapping a friendly pensioner in the queue in Asda.
Throwback clips were woven into the show, the studio was peppered with nods to the duo, and the event became a family affair when their grandson Kit was brought on by his dad Jack who famously spotted an elephant during an appearance on the show as a child.
There is something comforting about seeing Richard and Judy reunited on screen after spending many a sick day from school wrapped up on the sofa watching them in between spoons of Calpol. Judy tenderly held onto Richard’s arm as they went backstage to surprise a Pride of Britain winner, and they shared a laugh in the kitchen at Judy spilling Angela Hartnett’s Bouillabaisse down her white jacket, while lapping up the excitement at being back where they belong.
Regular presenters Holly and Phil have a laugh, Eamonn and Ruth are popular, but watching Richard and Judy is like inviting your aunt and uncle over for dinner – they may be embarrassing, but they’re great fun.
“We’ve had a blast today,” Richard said as they wrapped up. “Thanks very much for bearing with us, and see you around.” We very much hope so.
This Morning is on ITV, weekdays at 10:30am