It must seem like home from home when Judy Finnigan settles down on the sofa for an interview - only this time the spotlight’s on her, writes Hannah Stephenson.
Dressed in long blue cardigan and well-worn Birkenstocks, the former This Morning presenter, one half of the Richard and Judy partnership that lasted on screen for more than 20 years and has endured privately for 30, looks relaxed and happy. She’s noticeably less gregarious than her ebullient husband, who can be heard chatting away in the corridor.
Now 64, Finnigan has endured more than her fair share of cruel comments about her looks while, at eight years her junior, her husband Richard Madeley remains the Peter Pan of presenting, both in appearance and energy levels.
However, switching to full-time writing seems a perfect move - it’s something she can do privately at their homes in London, Cornwall and the south of France, which suits her well.
Her debut novel, Eloise, is a ghost story-cum-thriller about Cathy, a woman whose best friend Eloise has just died from breast cancer,
A devastated Cathy starts having disturbing dreams that imply there was more to Eloise’s death than meets the eye. We discover that Cathy recently recovered from a nervous breakdown and has a history of depression, so her psychiatrist husband Chris is dubious when she tells him of her suspicions.
The story was inspired by Finnigan’s friend, the late TV presenter Caron Keating, Gloria Hunniford’s daughter, who died from breast cancer in 2004.
“The emotional mood was inspired by Caron. After she was diagnosed she moved to Cornwall. We already had a house there and spent a lot of time together with our two families. It was very poignant,” recalls Finnigan.
“Because Caron fought it successfully for so long, a few of us forgot she was ill. When it finally claimed her, it was still an awful shock. And because we still carried on going to Cornwall, every time I went I associated it strongly with Caron.
“The sadness and the grief and the terrible fact that she’d died so young and left young children started me writing it, but then it’s pure fiction.”