Fern Britton has opened up about the real reason why she left This Morning - and she has revealed that it had nothing to do with a rumoured pay gap between her and Phillip Schofield. And, even though presenting This Morning was her dream job, she has no plans to return. Speaking to HELLO! magazine in February 2018, she said: "I did ten years of it and I loved that show - I can't tell you how much I loved it. But after ten years I just felt it was right to stop."
The presenter, who is trying her hand at Pointless Celebrities on Sunday evening, told the magazine that she never had any idea how much her co-host was paid. She shared: "That certainly wasn't true, not least because I had no idea what Philip had been paid; I knew what I was being paid and it was more than fair. It's appalling that, if you are doing the same job as a man, you are paid less and I am absolutely all for equal pay but at the time, even if Phillip had been paid more than me, he was doing more programmes on television.
Fern Britton told HELLO! the real reason she left This Morning
"It is wrong for someone else to be paid more than you are for the same job. But it’s terribly important to find out where your ‘enough’ is because everybody’s different and I was very happy with my 'enough'." Having recently turned 60, Fern says she has grown more confident with age. "When I was younger I was always worrying about how people would perceive me and now I have abandoned that. People like me or they don’t and I don’t really give a damn anymore! Of course like all women, some days I think my hair is rubbish and I can’t fit into my jeans but then I think: 'I am alive and the world is good'."
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Following her departure from ITV's This Morning in 2009, the popular star effortlessly transitioned into a best-selling author. Several novels later, she now juggles her writing with TV and radio presenting and charity work. Fern will soon star in a touring production of Calendar Girls the Musical. She has achieved all this while raising four children with her husband of nearly 18 years, TV chef Phil Vickery. "I don't make a fuss about things," she laughed. "Sometimes people say, 'Oh, I am so stressed.' And I think they say that because they are thinking about being stressed. Just pull your finger out and do what needs doing, take it hour by hour and it will be alright."
Fern, who recently released her seventh novel, Coming Home, revealed the opportunity to write fiction came about when a publisher invited her to write a book following the success of her autobiography, Fern: My Story. "I honestly didn't know if I could do it or not but I'm never scared to try anything new," the TV star said. "I like being put out of my comfort zone. The children were growing up and I wanted to have some more time at home, and it all just fitted very well. It's fantastic to challenge your mind, particularly creatively."
Most of Fern's books are set in Cornwall, where she and Phil have a second home. It's a place that has always been precious to her. "It seemed natural to write stories set in Cornwall because it has so much to offer, with the changing landscapes and the sea and the moors. I felt comfortable writing about something I knew." The very organised Fern fits her writing around her other commitments, which include occasional appearances on our screens - she was in 2012's Strictly Come Dancing - and being patron of miscarriage charity Genesis Research Trust and a supporter of The Reading Agency, which encourages people to read.
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In December, she returned to This Morning as a guest to talk about her New Year's Eve quiz show. Her appearance prompted calls from fans for a return to prime time. "I do love working in television but I haven't done prime time for a very long while and there is always that point when you have to accept that you just have to move out of the way and let other people in. I do still work for the BBC, and I do a bit of this and a bit of that and a bit of radio, so I am very happy with the stuff I have."
The TV star left This Morning in 2009
She is also very happy with her family life. Fern has twins Jack and Harry, 23, and Grace, 20, from her first marriage, and she and Phil have a daughter together, 16-year- old Winnie. She and her husband have a "lovely" relationship. "We let each other do our own thing," she explained. "I never question him. I am not one of those wives who is constantly sending texts all day long asking where he is, and he doesn't do that to me either. We are very gentle with each other in that sense."
Always keen to take on more challenges, Fern will star in a touring production of the hit stage show Calendar Girls the Musical from August, though she is quick to point out she will remain fully clothed. She is anticipating feeling homesick but is looking forward to some alone time, admitting: "It will be quite nice to have days to myself in a nice hotel room and write my next book rather than thinking, 'I had better do housework.'"
READ: Fern Britton opens up about 18-year marriage to This Morning's Phil Vickery