The Strange Secrets of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan’s Marriage

Few TV couples are so iconic that they have a show named after them.

But after 38 years of marriage, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan’s chemistry, on and off screen, has won them millions of fans… and pounds.

Richard and Judy look back on their careers in new documentaryCredit: Rex
The couple were asked to host a daytime chat show after TV bosses saw their work on ITV TelethonCredit: Rex

Best known for hosting This Morning from 1988 to 2001 before moving on to their talk show, Richard & Judy, the couple have never shied away from talking about their rollercoaster relationship – from a morbid death pact to extremely frank revelations about their sex lives.

From the beginning, their love story turned out to be a rocky one as they fell in love with each other while both were in unhappy marriages.

These days Judy, 76, has stepped away from the spotlight to concentrate on writing while Richard, 68, hosts Good Morning Britain.

But tonight they reveal their incredible career and relationship in a new Channel 5 documentary.

Richard & Judy: Our Best Bits – In Our Own Words even touches on how their bosses wanted to ban them from presenting together on Granada TV as punishment for their budding working relationship.

That was until they hosted the ITV Telethon, a televised fundraising event, and bosses needed presenters for a new daytime show.

Richard recalls: “Granada were in the last-minute stages of refining what the programme might be, but they didn’t know who would present it.

“Then, suddenly, one of them, Steve Morrison, the CEO, looked at the television that had been flashing since 3 p.m., and he saw me and Judy doing a presentation together. And he became… them!”

Breach of agreement

The couple met in 1982 while working on two separate shows for Grenada Television. At the time, they were both married: Judy to David Henshaw and Richard to Lynda Hooley.

Recalling their first dates, Richard said in an interview: “(Granada’s colleagues) thought it was frivolous, but it was nothing like that.

Richard Madeley ‘jumps on Kerry Katona’ to inspect nose after drug abuse

Although they were married to different people when they met, they quickly fell in love with each other.Credit: Rex
Judy was previously married to David Henshaw, seen here with their twins Dan and TomCredit: Rex
Richard was also married to Lynda Hooley

“It was actually very painful because we were very much in love, but it was very difficult.”

While Richard knew he wanted to get married by their third date, Judy wasn’t so sure. She wasn’t convinced he was ready to be a stepfather to her twins, Dan and Tom, who were six at the time.

She explained: “I had to be absolutely convinced that Richard was mature and confident enough that my sons would not be hurt.

“When we first met, I remember my mother telling him, ‘If you hurt those boys, I’ll never forgive you.’”

Judy’s concerns were so serious that she briefly ended their relationship.

But a heartbroken Richard responded with an incredible gesture that quickly won her back, taking a solo holiday to Greece specifically to study books on step-parenting to prove how serious he was.

“I had only carried a carry-on bag and my bag was heavy with books on step-parenting,” he writes in his book.

“I knew Dan and Tom very well and they were great, they were terribly nice, so I took it very seriously,” he said later.

“In the end, I knew of course I could do it – I wanted to do it.”

Richard and Judy went on to have two children, Jack, 38, and Chloe, 36.

Shoplifting scandal

Richard and Judy outside a Manchester court during his shoplifting trialCredit: Rex

In 1994, a shoplifting scandal threatens to destroy the couple’s squeaky clean image.

Richard was arrested after failing to pay for items, including champagne, at a Tesco in Manchester.

He was later cleared of any wrongdoing after citing memory loss.

Speaking later about the incidents, he said: “I just wasn’t concentrating. I put the food in the till, I forgot to get the champagne out.

“I can handle anything, I can juggle eight balls in the air, and actually, I had a terrible loss. (But) I can joke about it now. But that year was horrible. The publicity was mortifying.

“If I had been accused of robbing a bank, at least it would have a little glamour, but this fucking shoplifting… It’s just horrible.”

Death Pact

They surprised fans when they said they had a death pact in place if either of them became seriously ill.Credit: PA:Press Association

In 2014, the couple shocked fans by revealing that they had made a death pact if either of them became seriously ill.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Richard said: “If Judy was really ill and in her right mind… I wouldn’t give a penny if there was a risk of being sued. I would do what was right for my wife.”

Judy emphasized this point and added, “And I would do the same thing. I would drop all of this! We made a vow to each other to that effect.”

Richard then explained: “If, when the time came… Judy said to me: ‘But what about you? What about the risk of prosecution?’

“I’d say, ‘That’s my problem, I’ll take care of it, don’t worry.’ And for me, that would be the locked room, the bottle of whiskey and the gun. I wouldn’t want to do anything stupid.”

Too much information?

Richard has bragged about his sex life on air and in interviewsCredit: PA:Press Association
The couple have often raised eyebrows for their antics on television.Credits: Rex Features

Richard often went viral for his “Alan Partridge” moments on live TV – many of which often revealed a little too much about his marriage.

One such moment came when he explained some of the unorthodox methods he had experimented with while they were trying to have a baby.

He said: “When Judy and I were trying to conceive, I used to immerse my testicles in ice water before intercourse.” He later admitted that this had no effect.

A 2004 episode of their long-running Channel 4 show Richard & Judy caused outrage when he appeared to make a sexual confession.

The segment featured a bizarre experiment in which a couple was sent to the gym and a hotel to have sex to determine which activity burned the most calories.

When it was revealed that the couple burned more calories during sex, Judy said she and Richard were going to check into a local hotel.

He immediately joked, “We have locker rooms, Judy, for that sort of thing.”

As if appearing to admit to his locker room antics wasn’t enough, he continued: “The other night I walked into the bathroom and thought, ‘That’s another 30 calories wasted.’

To which Judy replied, “Which, for five seconds, isn’t bad.”

At the time, viewers were not very enthusiastic about these comments and criticized them for making these remarks between 5 and 6 p.m.

Oh baby

Richard once said on live television that Chloe was an unplanned pregnancyCredit: Getty – Contributor

While presenting Good Morning Britain, Richard’s gaffe machine struck again when he revealed his daughter Chloe was conceived accidentally.

He admitted that even though he and Judy had no plans for her, they decided to go ahead with the pregnancy anyway.

He said: “Then Judy got pregnant again, it was an accident. Sorry Chloe, but you were – and you know it.”

His daughter doesn’t seem to have taken it to heart, fortunately, as she has continued to move forward and forge her own career in television.

Maybe you should just take Mom’s presentation advice, Chloe!

Richard is interviewed by Judy after his transformation into Ali GCredit: PA:Press Association
The couple has won several awards for the many projects they have undertaken together.Credits: Rex Features
They were praised for their sense of dialogue and their endearing side.Credits: News Group Newspapers Ltd