I'd never cheat on my wife: Richard Madeley says he and Judy Finnigan are as besotted with each other as when they met 30 years ago



22:04 GMT, 28 September 2012

Richard Madeley was ‘gobsmacked’ to see photographs of one of the country’s favourite newsreaders, Dermot Murnaghan – a married, middle-aged father-of-four – caught in a clinch with his thirty-something make-up artist in Hyde Park this month.

‘Either he really doesn’t care about his marriage – because that’s such reckless behaviour – or it’s in such a state it doesn’t matter if he gets found out. I find that really odd,’ he says.

‘I’m aware it’s unfashionable to have a marriage where nobody’s having an affair, but we’re totally in that camp.’

Im aware its unfashionable to have a marriage where nobodys having an affair, but were totally in that camp,' says Richard

Still happily married: Richard Madeley says she and Judy Finnigan were 'destined to be together'

Still happily married: Richard Madeley says she and Judy Finnigan were 'destined to be together'

The ‘we’ is, of course, Richard and
Judy, British TV’s best-loved husband-and-wife team. The ‘we’ who
bickered, flirted, sulked and laughed their way through 21 years of
telly, first on ITV’s This Morning and then on Channel 4’s Richard &

The ‘we’ who
spoke of their attempts with Viagra, his vasectomy, her postnatal
depression, and hysterectomy; the ‘we’ who are still as besotted with
each other as when they met 30 years ago.

would be awful if I were to do something like that [have an affair],’
says Richard. ‘Firstly, I wouldn’t want to and never have done it to
Judy and, secondly, whatever tempting rewards there were of whatever
kind would be so outweighed by the guilt and the risk of destroying such
a gift. Besides, it’s never arisen.’

Never Oh come on Richard. You’re a good-looking chap off the telly. Don’t women throw themselves at you

‘You’re not the first person to say that.Someone said, “A bloke can go on telly dressed in a sack and he’d get knickers in the post.” I’ve never had anything like that. I think primarily it’s because women can see I’m happily, luxuriously married. That puts me off-limits, and I’m glad it does.’ He looks glad.

In fact, at 56, he’s never looked better. He and Judy have just returned from their holiday home in France, so he’s all tanned and relaxed with sun-bleached hair and exuding contentment.

Daddy's girl: Richard with his daughter Chloe Madeley

Daddy's girl: Richard with his daughter Chloe Madeley

The couple gave up daytime TV three years ago so Judy could write (her first novel, Eloise, is out next month) and Richard could concentrate on freelance projects as well as his own novel.

Judy had had enough of living in the public eye – really, who wants to have unflattering photos of themselves splashed across the newspapers Or put up with innuendo that you have a drink problem

‘Judy wearied of it,’ says Richard. ‘She always found it hard to handle, whereas I couldn’t give a damn. She was glad to leave that behind.’ Was he ‘When we decided to stop, it was totally mutual. We actually shook hands on it.’

We’re here because Richard’s first primetime solo programme, ITV1’s Madeley Meets The Squatters, is about to be broadcast. He spent most of the summer visiting squats in London, Bristol and Brighton to make it.

He’s actually very good in the hard-hitting documentary: insightful, funny and not afraid to pull his punches. He tells me that, politically, he and his interview subjects were poles apart, but that goes without saying given he and Judy have homes in London, Cornwall and France.

Standing the test of time: The couple pictured together in 1983

Standing the test of time: The couple pictured together in 1983

‘I’m not white-washing them but I did find some do some good, some do dreadful harm. You can’t say, “You’re all antisocial scumbags.”’

Richard lights up as he chats about
the project. He doesn’t seem to miss working with Judy at all. Did he
worry he would ‘I expected there’d be a void, but there wasn’t. I’ve
been on talk shows since and thought to myself, “I’d never do this

‘I asked one of our
neighbours in France, [former Rolling Stone] Bill Wyman, “How did you
feel the morning you woke up after announcing you were leaving the
Stones” He said, “I felt like a homing pigeon that’s come back to its
loft.” That’s exactly how Judy and I feel.’

first kissed Judy in April 1983 in the back of a cab, less than a year
after they began working together at Granada TV. Judy was married with
six-year-old twins Dan and Tom (now 35).

Richard had separated from his first wife after five years during which he’d had numerous affairs.

and I were a slow build,’ says Richard. ‘We were on screen together
because we had chemistry. But when we kissed it was all very startling.

‘We suddenly realised we’d fallen in love, and began an affair, but Judy broke it off after a few months because she found it all so painful. Then she did some thinking, came back and said, “If we do get together when I divorce, what about the boys Are you up to being a stepfather” I went to Greece for two weeks and thought and thought.

'The answer was, “Yes”. When we talk about the affair, we look back on it as not enjoyable at all. You’re being driven by passions you can’t control.

'At 56, that sounds ridiculous but looking back both of us were predetermined to the other.’

‘Predetermined’ – destined to be together. What a wonderful thought.

‘We’ve had two-thirds of our lives so far,’ says Richard. ‘One third without each other, the second third with each other on the telly and we’re in the third chunk which, I think, will be even happier.

'We’re both profoundly satisfied – with our children [Judy’s twins and Chloe, 24, and Jack, 26] and with our relationship. I plan to live to 100. I love being at the party and don’t want to check out early. I want to go into old age with Judy and live for a long time.’

Madeley Meets The Squatters is coming soon to ITV1.