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wonderful moment Eamonn Holmes says he cried when becoming a granddad ahead of new BBC amateur chef show

Speaking of social media and media rumours, Eamonn said: "It's like being an abused pet - You wouldn't be human if it didn't get to you"

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Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes chats to reporter Roisin Gorman about Farm To Feast, the first farm to fork cookery programme coming to BBC One Northern Ireland this Autumn

Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes chats to reporter Roisin Gorman about Farm To Feast, the first farm to fork cookery programme coming to BBC One Northern Ireland this Autumn

Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes chats to reporter Roisin Gorman about Farm To Feast, the first farm to fork cookery programme coming to BBC One Northern Ireland this Autumn

Eamonn Holmes says becoming a grandfather has taken him back to his own early days as a dad.

The TV veteran admits he cried when he became a grandad for the first time after baby Amelia was born two months ago.

And ahead of his new BBC show with Northern Ireland's best amateur chefs, the broadcasting legend says it was great to get a break from London TV execs who have branded him 'male, pale and stale'.

But the bitching of the showbiz world means nothing when he sees son Declan and wife Jenny with their baby girl.

"The lovely thing about her is that when Declan comes in and he speaks, I just watch her head turn. She just tunes in to his voice, his everything, and the way he holds her.

"It's a wonderful thing for all of us," says Eamonn.

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Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes says he's never felt 'male, pale and stale'

Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes says he's never felt 'male, pale and stale'

Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes says he's never felt 'male, pale and stale'

"I didn't realise it would make me as emotional as it did when I heard the news. And then it brings you back. So Declan is holding Amelia and I'm holding Declan the same way 30 years ago.

"I'm very happy that they're very happy and then I see the genuine joy with my mother."

The 61-year-old, who's part of the TV dream team with wife Ruth Langsford, is never far from the headlines, which aren't always kind.

Eamonn believes he's regularly used as clickbait to attract readers to news sites with critical stories about him.

Even after four decades at the top of the television tree he says it still hurts when he reads reports about himself which aren't true, particularly when he and Ruth go out of their way to respect their fans and their viewers.

"If you read social media and the printed media you would believe the whole world hates you and you should be sacked. I understand my business. I will not have anybody say, 'he's gaffe prone.'

"It's like being an abused pet. You wouldn't be human if it didn't get to you," he says.

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"In the real world people don't speak about me like that, they seem to like me.

"A lot of people don't want to talk, mix, shake hands with people, but Ruth and I do. They put me on the telly and keep me on the telly. People say you must get fed up with people talking to you, but wouldn't it be worse if they didn't?"

It was a shock to fans when it was announced that Eamonn and Ruth's Friday reign on This Morning, where they've interviewed everyone from Prime Ministers to Love Island contestants, was to end after 14 years.

The Belfast man says it's expected that things change on television, but he was baffled by the change on the show.

"Yes, it's an inevitable part of TV, but it's not an inevitable part of the programme. Why would you change your best presenters and your most popular presenters? Why would you do that unless it's personal. There's nothing you can do about it. There's no point in crying about it."

In the fickle world of television Eamonn reveals he was once turned down for a presenter role in a crime series about people who'd been murdered by relatives, because he'd had no personal experience of it.

He takes some comfort in wrongfooting execs who want to pigeonhole him and says there is still a world of career opportunities ahead.

"I'm like an itch they all hate, they all have to scratch. They go, 'how has he survived, how is he still relevant', because I pop up in different areas.

"The thing they're making up about me at the minute is Eamonn feels he's male, pale and stale. Eamonn has never felt he's male, pale, and stale but you will get that farmed out because it will suit the agenda that Eamonn is old.

"I'm as enthusiastic today as I was when I was 18 or 19.

"It's a whole new world out there. I have more people that follow me on social media than watch This Morning," says Eamonn.

He had a ball making new series Farm to Feast: Best Menu Wins when seven amateur chefs were challenged to create the best dishes from local ingredients. They were judged by Michelin-starred chef Danni Barry and food critic Joris Minne.

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Eamonn with judges Michelin star chef Danni Barry from Mayobridge and Joris Minne

Eamonn with judges Michelin star chef Danni Barry from Mayobridge and Joris Minne

Eamonn with judges Michelin star chef Danni Barry from Mayobridge and Joris Minne

Eamonn admits his new role raised a few eyebrows at home where Ruth is the queen of the kitchen.

"Ruth was furious. She said, 'it's me who cooks. Why are they asking you to do a cooking show?' The kitchen is her domain," he says.

It became more than a show when the chefs and Eamonn bonded while filming in a Fermanagh castle.

He set up a WhatsApp group to keep everyone in touch, invited them to his house for an evening and rented out a restaurant so they could all watch a preview of the show.

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Eamonn, with the judges and all the cooks of the new show

Eamonn, with the judges and all the cooks of the new show

Eamonn, with the judges and all the cooks of the new show

The presenter says it uncovered hidden talents among the amateur cooks and he's encouraged the contestants to make the most of their newfound fame.

"I said to all of them if you've got ambition at the end of all of this do it now. Now is your shop window to fulfil your dream."

The TV man has kept smiling through a difficult year when he was in chronic pain because of a back problem.

Eamonn couldn't sit, sleep, or walk for months because of two prolapsed discs. He ended up with five steroid injections, which he paid for because he didn't want to burden the NHS. They have eased the discomfort but left him with no feeling in one foot.

After reaching out to followers on social media he realised he's just one of an army of people in a pain epidemic, and he was moved by the stories people shared, and by their support.

"They have been my strength. So many people have no end in sight to their pain and that's very humbling and scary. I think however bad my situation is, it's not that bad," he says.

The outspoken presenter is also thankful that he and his family have come through Covid unscathed, and he doesn't mince his words about anti-vaxxers, many of whom believe conspiracy theories about trackers in the jabs.

"I don't understand anyone who doesn't want to take the vaccine.

"I know people who are close to me who believe it all and I ask if I've been tracked coming to their house, and if so why. Of the billions of people in the world why are they bothered monitoring me?" says Eamonn.

Farm to Feast: Best Menu Wins starts tomorrow on BBC1 at 7.35pm.

roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com

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