CATCHING UP WITH RICHARD MADELEY AND JUDY FINNIGAN

PUBLISHED: 09:41 27 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:15 30 August 2017

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They are television’s golden couple who revolutionised our morning viewing, our teatime viewing and our reading habits. Bernard Bale chats to Polperro’s own Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan

Everyone loves Cornwall - that is why it is one of Britain’s most popular holiday regions. Visitors are captivated by the land, the air, the friendliness and the heritage of the county which is why so many want to live permanently in the place they have come to fall in love with - and none more so than Richard and Judy.

Star television presenters, radio broadcaster and champions of reading, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are also champions of Cornwall which they have described as their spiritual home having been captivated since the 1980s when they first came for a holiday and were instantly smitten.

We both truly discovered Cornwall a little over 30 years ago when Richard and I first got together,’ says Judy. We knew we wanted to be together and we thought the best way of doing it was for Richard to just move in with us. I had my twin sons, Tom and Dan, from my previous marriage and we thought it best that they got used to us being together while on holiday. So we headed for Devon and especially Cornwall.

We were living in Manchester at the time so we rented a beautiful cottage between Looe and Polperro for a week in the hope that we could get used to each other in a relaxed environment. It worked wonderfully and we are still here!’

Richard agrees. I think that was the real start of our love of Cornwall,’ he says. It is a funny thing but Cornwall is like no other place in Britain. It has a spirit all of its own and it calls to you. If you hear that call you cannot help but answer it and then you become one of its own. When you return after the hustle and bustle of London and working life it is almost as if time stands still and you are re-vitalised.’

And they are both enjoying every element on the county.

The whole of the UK is quite brilliant but Cornwall has something extra,’ adds Judy. Just look at the amazing heritage here: a heritage that can be seen so vividly in the Iron Age and Stone Age sites with incredible places like the quartz circle just outside Duloe, not far from where we live. The moors are also a law unto themselves, welcoming one moment and threatening the next.’

Easily recognisable, Richard and Judy have been on our screens for more than four decades. In 1978, Richard moved on to Border Television to develop his career as a television reporter and presenter before joining Yorkshire Television to work on Calendar in 1980. Two years later Richard took up an option to move to Lancashire where he started work at Granada TV, and first met Judy Finnigan.

During this time, Manchester-born Judy had developed a love of literature by studying English and Drama at Bristol University. She took part in various stage drama productions but decided that it was not really something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Instead Judy joined Granada as a researcher in 1971 before spending a year scraping a living in New York. In 1974 Judy joined Anglia Television and became the station’s first female reporter. In 1980, she returned to Granada and worked on a range of live programmes including the nightly regional show Granada Reports, where she first met Richard.

The rest, as they say, is history. They hosted Good Morning on ITV from 1988 to 2001 when they left to present their own Richard & Judy Show each evening on Channel 4. Since then they have been regular television hosts and guests on many different programmes.

Their big passion is, of course, books. Richard & Judy’s Book Club has almost become a national institution and tirelessly both readers and writers.

They have both written books in their own right but it is the book club that takes up so much of their time. They often make appearances at literature and music festivals as well as reviewing new titles and generally giving books as much promotion as possible.

We have both been book lovers all our lives and love being able to play a part in keeping reading and writing going,’ explains Richard. In today’s techno world it is still good to be able to pick up a book and escape into reading whether it is modern or classic, fact or fiction.’

They both consider that living in Cornwall is inspirational to their own writing.

Cornwall is amazingly inspiring for writers, look what it did for Daphne Du Maurier,’ says Judy. When I was young I came here on holiday with my parents. Coming from Manchester it was like visiting a different country and I can remember as a little girl, I thought Cornwall was incredibly romantic. When I am writing I look out of the window at home and it stimulates that romantic feeling again. I just have to write because it is so inspiring.’

Richard and Judy have owned Steward House at Talland Bay, near Polperro, since 1998. While they have another dwelling in London, Talland Bay is where they call home.

We are here most of the time and I like to walk over the cliff path to Polperro every day,’ explains Richard. It is a great walk and you get to meet and know local people who have mostly accepted us as their own now. We feel very privileged about that and we give as much support to local charities and groups as we can.

When we were working on TV, we only had weekends in Cornwall. We’d leave London on a Friday evening and wouldn’t have got there till midnight, then we’d have to head back on back Sunday night. Now we spend more time here than we do in London.’

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are still regularly seen on the small screen but equally they are regularly seen in the local shops of Cornwall.

This is our real home and we just love being here so we use the local shops as much as we can and all the other facilities,’ Judy tells me. Visitors sometimes look twice when they see us but the local people are used to us and treat us as one of their own.

I think that is one of the wonderful things about Cornwall. Visitors think of Cornwall as a holiday place that’s sweet and pretty, which it is. But it is wild too and mysterious. It does look after its own people though. It has provided for them in many ways since it was first inhabited. It still does today. Cornwall is unique. Cornwall is, well, Cornwall.’

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