How a TV bust-up gave Eamonn Holmes his big break

Apr 30, 2019Culture, Lifestyle

Eamonn was just 19 years old and working as a farming reporter on Ulster TV when the producer and presenter had a studio bust-up.

“The producer shouts at him, ‘You’re fired!’ and I’m there at 19 years of age, watching this.

“Then he says, ‘Young Holmes, have you got a shirt and tie?’ So I said, ‘Yes Mr Fitzpatrick’, and he says, ‘Right, go and put them on because you’re presenting this programme.’

“So that was my introduction to television presenting. I read the autocue, and my heart was beating so fast that I couldn’t hear a word I was saying,” Eamonn says.

Eamonn went on to present news, sport and then early morning television for a record-breaking 26 years.

Honoured in 2018 with an OBE for services to broadcasting, his career has encompassed both hard news journalism and programmes such as This Morning with his wife Ruth Langsford.

“I’m very grounded, I know what I do well,” he says. “I can’t play a musical instrument, I can’t speak a foreign language, I can’t cook, I can’t dance, I’m pretty useless overall. I’m as good as it gets when it comes to being a live presenter on TV and that’s about it really,” he adds.

Eamonn recalls growing up in Belfast during the Troubles.

“I had a very normal childhood until I was eight, and then the Troubles happened, and we knew all about it.”

He describes his school bus being hijacked.

“This guy came on the bus in a balaclava and two others came up behind him and he said, ‘We’re commandeering this bus on behalf of the provisional IRA, everybody out’ and they started sprinkling the bus with petrol, so we all ran out and somebody lit a petrol bomb and threw it, and the bus burned.”

He ran the mile to school only to meet the headmaster.

“He looks at me and says, ‘Why are you late Holmes?’ So I told him, panting, what had happened, expecting him to say, ‘That’s awful, come into the office, have a cup of tea.’ But he just said, ‘Detention!’

“His attitude was that our school should be an oasis outside the Troubles.”

 

Read the full interview with Eamonn in Victoria magazine here.