MONDAY, MARCH 2
Back to the Good Morning Britain studios after three weeks in America, to find Susanna Reid in full-blown coronavirus alert mode. She has declared herself strictly non-contact.
‘No hugging, no kissing, no touching me whatsoever!’ she exclaimed when I entered her dressing room at 5.45am for our usual pre-show briefing and asked her to clarify the joyless new co-worker ground rules.
‘No hugging, no kissing, no touching me whatsoever!’ Susannah exclaimed when I entered her dressing room at 5.45am for our usual pre-show briefing and asked her to clarify the joyless new co-worker ground rules
‘Jeez,’ I replied, ‘don’t I get any special dispensation for being your TV husband?’
‘Absolutely none,’ she retorted, firmly. ‘Just imagine there’s an invisible, potentially lethal electric fence between us.’
Susanna disclosed she’s been using neat vodka as a hand sanitiser. ‘May as well make use of it now I’m teetotal,’ she explained.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6
Dinner at the Notting Hill home of Gabriela Peacock, nutritionist to the stars. It was the first party I’ve attended since coronavirus really took off, and while some guests offered customary physical welcomes, others recoiled in horror at the sight of an outstretched hand or puckered lip.
Duran Duran star Simon Le Bon leaped away from me as if he’d just seen a rattle-snake, then roared with laughter at my bemused face. ‘Come here, Morgan!’ he cackled, giving me a rigorous, full-bodied rock ’n’ roll embrace: ‘If we die, we die!’
His supermodel wife Yasmin, who I would have very much preferred to be the Le Bon giving me a rigorous full-bodied embrace, permitted me a double-cheeked ‘mwah! mwah!’ kiss.
Corona-anxiety dominated an otherwise delightful evening.
We sat down to be informed we’d be plate-sharing Japanese dishes with chopsticks, prompting a few concerned eyebrows.
I then sneezed loudly, and mild concern turned to terror. ‘You’re in the over-60 coronavirus death zone like me, right?’ said Simon, who is 62 but looks 45.
‘No!’ I snorted, ‘I’m only 54!’
‘REALLY?’ he scoffed incredulously. ‘I’m EIGHT years older than you?’
‘Yes, and now we’ve established you’re one sniffle away from a funeral, Simon,’ I said, ‘what would be the song of yours that you’d like played at it?’
‘Ordinary World!’ he replied.
Then he bellowed out his famous anthem about grief: ‘Where is the life that I recog-nise… gone away… but I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world… somehow I have to find… and as I try to make my way… to the ordinary world… I will learn to survive…’
One last-minute absentee guest who may also have to learn how to survive is Jeremy Clarkson (he’s 60 next month but looks 80), who was caught up in a coronavirus scare after coming back from Africa last week, wheezing and feverish.
Obviously, my first thought is that he’s OK.
My second is that I’m available to step in and host Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? should that not sadly be the case.
SATURDAY, MARCH 7
Took my daughter Elise, eight, to her first Arsenal game and what may be one of the last Premier League matches played in front of crowds, or indeed at all, this season if coronavirus continues to run riot.
Raymond Blanc, who prepares the lavish lunch in the ultra-VIP Diamond Club at Emirates Stadium, was thoroughly discombobulated by the new social-distancing environment. ‘Imagine how difficult it is being a French man at the moment,’ complained the most tactile human being I know. ‘I can’t hug or kiss anyone! It’s a nightmare!’ My thoughts are with Raymond at this difficult time.
TUESDAY, MARCH 10
I attended the TRIC (Television and Radio Industries Club) awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, where GMB was up for another Best Daytime TV Show award against, predictably, our ITV rivals, sorry ‘colleagues’, This Morning.
‘You coming?’ I texted Holly Willoughby.
‘No,’ she replied. ‘I don’t think we’ve won.’
Susanna’s ‘invisible electric fence’ quickly came under relentless attack as dozens of hot, sweaty GMB fans besieged us throughout lunch for selfies, many asking us to take them on their grubby, unsanitised phones, and others leaning right over and around us to get their treasured snap.
I don’t normally mind this kind of intensive ego-fuelling attention, but given current world events, this did feel a bit like lowering ourselves into a pool of piranhas and hoping we’d survive the endless nips.
Susanna’s ‘invisible electric fence’ quickly came under relentless attack as dozens of hot, sweaty GMB fans besieged us throughout lunch for selfies at the Television and Radio Industries Club awards
‘All. Over. My. Body.’ Susanna sighed, as one particularly ardent admirer smothered himself around her to get his picture.
Lizzie Cundy revealed that our mutual friend Bruno Tonioli has fled to Los Angeles to escape the pandemic. ‘He panicked and caught the first flight out. He says the virus doesn’t like the heat.’ This will come as news to California, which has now had more coronavirus cases than any other US state, including a sudden outbreak in LA.
Another friend of mine, Dame Joan Collins, flew IN from LA on Sunday and was spotted wearing a face mask at Heathrow. ‘Naomi Campbell taught me the importance of good hygiene on flights,’ she told me on GMB this morning. ‘You can catch anything up there, let alone coronavirus. I’ve been wiping and spraying my seats, belts and trays for years.’
Christopher Biggins came over to my table and revealed that he braved dinner last night with Joan. ‘She was determined to go out, and I figured if she got it in LA, and I’ve now caught it and die, there is honestly no other way I’d rather go.’
Of course, This Morning scooped the Best Daytime award.
‘You bloody won,’ I texted Holly.
‘You kidding me?’ she replied.
‘Do I sound like I’m laughing? Attending these awards only to hear you’ve beaten us again is like self-flagellation only without any sexual gratification.’
‘Listen,’ she said, ‘we’re all one big happy ITV family…’
I left immediately I heard the bad news and, on the way out, I passed Emily Maitlis, who has also won a stack of awards for her bombshell interview with Prince Andrew. ‘No offence,’ I seethed, ‘but I’d genuinely rather get coronavirus than see you win anything else.’ ‘Understood,’ she smirked, so smugly I’m surprised her cheekbones didn’t snap.