English National Ballet Annual Christmas Season Celebrity Party

Ahead of Their Dubai Trip, TV Legends Richard and Judy Chat to Ahlan!

22 Jan 2014

We caught up with celeb couple Richard and Judy, who're heading to Dubai for the Emirates Lit Fest!

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan were the king and queen of British telly for over 20 years, hosting This Morning and The Richard and Judy Show and launching Richard and Judy's Book Club, but now they've both become writers! They're coming to the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai in March and will be taking part in various events to talk about their own books as well as the Book Club. Ahlan! is pleased to report they're just like on the telly. We'd been trying to call them on the number supplied by the PR, but it went straight to voicemail, then suddenly our phone rang and it was Richard asking why we had not called! Not every day can you say that a TV legend rings you up! He also tells us: "When you've had enough of me just tell me and I'll put Judy on!" Here's what happened next...

Hi Richard! Tell me about your books!
Judy's book is called Eloise and it came out in 2012 and she's working on the followup. Mine came out in July, and, to my huge relief, both the books have been best sellers. When we do the Book Club, if we'd written books and they'd flopped it would have been so embarrassing! Mine is called Someday I'll Find You. It's a thriller about a psychopathic spitfire pilot who ends up deserting, and become an extortionist. We're both heads down writing the second ones. There's a character in mine, his daughter, Stella, who he's never met, and she's a great character, and everybody said in the next book you must write about what happens to Stella, so that's what I've done. It's called The Way You Look Tonight.

What are you planning to do in Dubai?
We're there from the 3 to 9 March. We'll be giving talks and working at the festival, and apparently it's huge fun. We're going to have a cultural experience! We're complete strangers to the Middle East, we've been to Luxor and that was amazing, but that's totally different.

Do you have to be careful in the sun? We heard you got heat stroke in France and had a fit!
I was sunbathing and I fell asleep face down in June in the South of France. I woke up feeling really weird. I had a mini fit. It was just heat stroke. But I'm fine in the heat actually, and I haven't had any sunshine since October!

What else are you up to since ending your TV show?
I'm freelancing. I do Radio 2 when Terry Wogan's not there, and I did The Wright Stuff when Matthew Wright was in the jungle. I'm negotiating a show that might be coming to prime time next year that I can't talk about.

Talking of the jungle, you must get asked to do lots of reality telly. Why haven't you done any?
I've been asked to do all of them. The only one I might consider is Strictly Come Dancing. I might think about it this coming year. There you've got a degree of control. Nothing is manipulated. All the other shows, you're production fodder. In the jungle they have a storyboard of how they want it to work out. They manipulate people and I hate that sort of thing.

What's your fave book?
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It's an absolutely remarkable piece of writing. It's basically a novel about magic being performed in England about the time of the Napoleonic wars. It's beautifully written and totally compelling. It makes Harry Potter look like a comic throwaway!

Thanks Richard! Put Judy on please! (We hear Judy walk to the phone and Richard whispers "It's Sarah Swain!")

Hi Judy! Are you looking forward to your trip to Dubai?
Yes, enormously. I've never been there before. Our agent was telling us about a desert BBQ which sounds lovely. I don't know what to expect and I'm very much looking forward to having my eyes opened.

Tell me about Eloise, your book?
It's set in Cornwall and it's sort of a ghost story, though not a frightening one. It's a thriller about a woman who dies of breast cancer and her best friend who lives in Cornwall, a very mysterious and ancient place with loads of myths and legends. It's about this woman who died leaving behind two little children, and her spirit comes through to her best friend, and convinces her that she didn't die naturally and her two children are in great danger. One of our friends died at 42 of breast cancer, leaving behind  two boys and a husband and it was tragic. That's partly what inspired it.

Is there any rivalry over who's books are doing the best?
Not at all! Our style of writing is completely different. We're glad for the other's success.

What's the secret of living and working together?
We just get on with it. Obviously doing daily television together you have agreements. But we know each other incredibly well. We often think aike, and we're always able to resolve any kind of dispute!

What's your fave book?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I re-read it evey year.

Have you lived down THAT wardrobe malfunction at the 2000 National Television Awards?
I can laugh about it! I could laugh about it on the night. I don't really think about it.

INFO: Tickets from Dhs65, 4-8 March 2014, InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, 04 353 4002, www.emirateslitfest.com

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