Richard and Judy - TV Presenters
Created | Updated Sep 11, 2009
Richard Madeley (born 1956) and Judy Finnigan (born 1948) are a husband and wife team who jointly present a British television programme. They met each other at Granada TV in 1982 where both were news reporters. At that time Judy was still married to her first husband (with whom she had twin sons), and Richard was going through a divorce from his first wife. Judy subsequently got a divorce and they got married in 1986.
Although their personalities are very different, they are perfect foils for one another:
Richard is so laid-back he's practically horizontal. He jumps straight in, asking direct questions, which sometimes appear rude. He makes extraordinary gaffes, (in the style of Prince Philip), and makes remarks which earn him a whack from Judy's script, followed by sighs, head-shaking and eye-rolling by the exasperated Judy1.
Ardent feminist Judy is the more cautious of the pair and takes her time weighing up people and situations before committing herself. Judy gives off a maternal vibe and acts naturally. She is a very emotional person who wears her heart on her sleeve, sometimes finding it difficult to keep her emotions in check2 when dealing with sad topics and guests like gravely-ill children and their parents.
This Morning... with Richard and Judy
The couple presented This Morning together on Granada TV from 1988 to 2001, which was broadcasting from Liverpool. This Morning was ITV's flagship magazine-format show when the channel revamped its daytime schedule. It was a very major production and has a significant place in British TV history. It wasn't the first of its kind, the BBC's Pebble Mill show had been broadcasting for over a decade. However, it was a major part of the move towards a unified TV schedule across the country during daytime (as opposed to each region showing its own shows).
The location of Granada studios was the recently renovated Albert Dock, at one time the very heart of Merseyside international trade but converted into luxury shops and apartments in the early 1980s as part of the urban regeneration programme. The studio looked out onto the dock itself, and Fred Talbot presented his weather reports standing on a floating map of the UK; loyal viewers watched from the quay side and cheered him each time he leaped across the map from Mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.
With the location being part of a complex open to the public, Granada tried to ensure recordings weren't spoiled by members of the public, but a number of streakers did manage to interrupt proceedings (Mark Roberts being the most persistent). The streakers usually swam across the dock to make their way onto Fred's map, but perhaps they'd have been less eager to bare all if they'd noticed that the dock was home to thousands of jellyfish.
Richard and Judy became a popular double-act because of their personal chemistry and how natural they were with each other. Bringing in their four children did them no harm either. They gave out a 'happy family' vibe, and it was genuine. They had light-hearted moments and on-screen spats, always stopping short of a full-scale row, but you were left wondering if they carried on after filming stopped, and often wished you were a fly on the wall in their own living room. They became so familiar that you felt you knew them personally, something Judy regarded as 'a privilege'.
The This Morning show wasn't all about viewers' problems and gardening, they broke in new ground by screening 'first' and controversial topics like a gay partnership ceremony; Viagra trials; and a semi-naked man having his testicles checked by a doctor. This Morning also set a new world record of the biggest live makeover ever - 100 members of one family were preened, polished and pampered by beauty experts.
Agony Aunt Denise and Dr Chris Steele had regular spots on the show, taking part in phone-ins and helping solve viewers' problems, usually with Richard adding his thoughts or an anecdote about what he had done when the same thing had happened to him. Susan Brookes was the regular cookery expert and of course there was Fred with his famous floating weather map.
The programme moved to London in 1996, because they had lost high-profile guests who were unwilling to travel up to Liverpool. This Morning won a National Television Award for Best Daytime Show in 1998. Richard and Judy left This Morning in 2001 in an emotional farewell show which showed highlights of their 13-year stint, and also starred guests who had helped make the show such a success.
Tonight with Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan
Not everything they touch turns to gold. Richard and Judy hosted a short-lived early-evening show, Tonight with Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, on which their first guest was OJ Simpson, giving his only TV interview (he had turned down Jeremy Paxman and Jonathan Dimbleby) after his acquittal on murder charges. They asked him: 'Tell us about the Nicole that you loved'. Bo Derek was booked to appear on the same show, but she pulled out when she found out who her fellow-guest was.
The Richard & Judy Show
Richard and Judy weren't happy with restrictions placed upon them by ITV and eventually accepted an offer from Channel Four in 2001, creating their own chat show - Richard & Judy - which is broadcast live from Kennington, South London, on weekdays at 5pm.
The show itself is a mix of celebrity guests usually plugging their latest record, film or book, (and including a grilling on their sex-life by Richard); on-the-street interviews; film/upcoming programme previews; new gadget3 unveilings; book reviews; wine-tasting4 and food-tasting5.
There are discussions on topical events which their own children sometimes take part in. Other regular guests such as journalist Magenta Devine, TV presenter Lowri Turner, writer and reviewer Quentin Letts, Vanessa Feltz and a couple of ex-Big Brother contestants provide lively debate.
Part of the attraction of a live show is studying the reactions, both facial and body-language, of the guests who are either amused, dumbfounded or downright annoyed by questions or 'old footage' which researchers have dug up. Sarah Ferguson gave Richard her iciest stare when he brought the conversation around to The Windsors.
Judy cannot hide her contempt for guests such as Rebecca Loos, a former PR agent who claimed to have had an affair with David Beckham; nor can she suppress her glee at interviewing Patrick Swayze (when Richard was confined to the other end of the couch, out of sight of even the TV camera and didn't get the chance to ask any questions). When they interviewed heart-throb film star Johnny Depp, he showed great concern over Judy's cold while Richard bombarded him with questions like 'Do the actors get scared acting in a scary film?' Judy is a little more subtle than her husband with her derogatory remarks, for example: when interviewing a female teacher who had been jailed for having sex with one of her under-age students, Judy asked: 'So you admit you were stupid then'?
As the show is broadcast live, they often start the show with a news item, notably on 25 November, 2005, the death of George Best. Judy was visibly moved as she recalled her days as a 'runner' for Granada TV. Her father was an avid Manchester United fan, and she was able to engineer a meeting between him and George. She reminisced how her father had been awestruck by George and it was the best thing she ever did for him. Then Richard mentioned that it was '21 years ago today that Judy's father had passed away, how uncanny'.
Weird and Wonderful Guests
When the weather is warm enough, Richard and Judy broadcast their show from their rooftop garden. This is usually where they interview their more energetic and active guests, like the hoola-hoop expert who went for a world-record in front of a representative from the Guinness World Records. Then there's the unicycle rider, the fastest-skipper-in-60 seconds, skateboard whizzes, trampoline artistes (most different bouncing positions in 60 seconds), the fire-eater, the hot-coal-walker, the nail-bed-sleeper and various other Darwin Award candidates. People really will do anything to appear on TV.
The Book Club
I was really keen to do a book club on TV and not some terribly esoteric discussion programme. I wanted to do something that was inclusive and would really broaden people's horizons.
- Amanda Ross, executive producer, Richard & Judy.
Richard and Judy became just about the most powerful promoters in British publishing when they started a Book Club on their show in 2004, an idea copied from Oprah Winfrey's show. They announce the chosen ten books, then discuss one book a week with a special guest. Joseph O'Connor's The Star of the Sea was the featured book when their guest that day was fellow-Irishman Bob Geldof KBE. He reviewed the book and called it 'a masterpiece'. By the following week The Star of the Sea was top of the UK bestseller chart, a climb of 336 places, with total sales of over 12,000 copies.
The ten chosen books for the summer read have been produced in Braille, at a cost of £1,000 per book, by the National Library for the Blind (NLB), to enable visually impaired viewers to take part. The books are available to borrow or buy from the charity, contact them either by phone or email via the website.
You Say, We Pay
At the beginning of each programme a question is read out; for example: 'Who was the late Paula Yates married to?' with three options to choose the answer from: 'Bob Geldof' or 'Prince Charles' or 'Fred Flintstone'. Not too difficult? The viewers phone in their answer (to a premium fixed-rate line) and leave their name, town and contact phone number details on the answering machine. Just after the last commercial break, one lucky caller is phoned back to be given the chance to win £1,000 for each correct answer that Richard and Judy give to the callers' clues, within one minute.
Pictures with words appear behind Richard and Judy, which the contestant has to describe: for example, there could be a photograph of a boxer dog, with the words 'Boxer Dog' above, but the viewer is not allowed to say 'boxer' or 'dog'. If they do: a buzzer sounds, no money is earned and the picture changes to the next one. 'Profession of Frank Bruno' and 'canine' would be allowed, so thinking fast is the key to receiving a bumper cheque.
Every time Richard and Judy say the matching words on the screen: a bell rings, the next picture appears and there's another £1,000 in the kitty. At least once, (more if the contestant is struggling), Richard cheats by glancing behind, saying exactly what's there and then stating he's not going to cheat again.
While Richard and Judy often needle each other on screen, this rarely escalates into a full-blown fight. One rare occasion was in January 2006: after hearing their film club volunteers' opinions of the smash-hit Memoires of a Geisha, Richard and Judy disagreed about whether a geisha is a prostitute or not. Judy insisted that a geisha is a performer of the arts, who does not provide sex. Richard insisted that geishas are high-class hookers. When the programme ended Richard was still insisting he was correct, by stating that researchers had looked up the definition in the Oxford English dictionary, and when Judy still disagreed with him, he told her sarcastically that of course she was right and the dictionary was wrong. (Traditional Geishas6 are in fact Japanese artist-performers, trained in dancing and singing, who are paid to entertain; they are not prostitutes, although some Japanese prostitutes will dress as a geisha to attract clients.)
Just Before We Go
Richard and Judy are often impersonated by other TV personalities, for example Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona on the Alistair McGowan's Big Impression show. They also appeared as themselves playing 'You Say, We Pay' with the Little Britain characters 'Lou' and 'Andy' unfortunately being the only contestants to ever go away without winning anything.
Richard and Judy have co-written a book, eponymously-titled 'Richard and Judy: The Autobiography' with alternating chapters, describing their life together, both professional and private; and their ups-and-downs-and-back-agains. The subjects well-covered are Judy's boob exposure, live at a TV award show in 2000; Richard's shoplifting trial and acquittal; his vasectomy and her hysterectomy; her post-natal depression and their problems with alcohol. They have two children together, Jack (born 1987) and Chloë (born 1988). They're in it for the long haul, as Richard says:
We can face anything as long as we're together.
Richard and Judy have their critics of course. Most acerbic is their fellow TV presenter Paul O'Grady AKA Lily Savage. He calls them 'pathetic' and complains that they 'grovel to their guests'. Richard insists that O'Grady is a good friend of theirs. Love them or hate them, Richard and Judy are a national institution, their on-screen chemistry sparkles and their obvious affection for each other comes across as genuine. What you see is what you get and an army of faithful fans keeps them at the top of their profession.