Fern Britton

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Fern Britton
Fern Britton.jpg
Britton in 2009 at Wendy Richard's funeral service
Born (1957-07-17) 17 July 1957 (age 57)
Ealing, Middlesex, England[1]
Residence Buckinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Occupation Television presenter
Employer ITV (formerly)
BBC (currently)
Spouse(s) Clive Jones (1988-1998; divorced)
Phil Vickery (m. 2000)
Children Jack (b. 1994)
Harry (b. 1994)
Grace (b. 1997)
Winnie (b. 2001)
Parents Tony Britton
Ruth Britton
Relatives Cherry Britton (sister)
Jasper Britton (half-brother)

Fern Britton (born 17 July 1957) is an English television presenter, best known for her television work with Phillip Schofield on ITV.

Fern rose to national fame when she presented Ready Steady Cook between 1994 and 2000 on BBC One. She was replaced by Ainsley Harriott who presented the show for ten years, between 2000 and 2010.

Britton was a co-presenter on the ITV magazine programme This Morning, a show which she joined in 1999. When she first joined the show she was paired with John Leslie. Then in 2002, Fern was joined by Phillip Schofield who presented the show with Britton until her departure in 2009. Fern spent ten years on This Morning. She was replaced by Holly Willoughby, who currently hosts the show with Phillip Schofield.

In 2008, ITV revived the classic game show Mr & Mrs, starring celebrities and their partners. The show as renamed All Star Mr & Mrs. Britton co-hosted the show with Schofield for three series until the show took a break from broadcasting in 2010. ITV then brought the show back in 2012, although Britton departed the show due to her move to the BBC.

Since 2009, Fern has presented the daytime chat show series Fern Britton Meets... on BBC One, which has seen her interview people such as Tony Blair, Dolly Parton and Susan Boyle.

In 2012, she participated in Strictly Come Dancing, where she was paired with professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev. The couple finished in 10th place.

Early life[edit]

Britton was born in Ealing, Middlesex to English actor Tony Britton and his wife Ruth Britton. She is the younger sister of scriptwriter Cherry Britton and older half-sister of actor Jasper Britton. After spending her early life in Buckinghamshire, she proceeded to launch her career on Westward Television as a continuity announcer. She attended Dr Challoner's High School at Little Chalfont and the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she trained in stage management.

Career[edit]

Presenting[edit]

After working with a touring theatre company, Britton commenced her broadcasting career in 1979 at Westward Television in Plymouth, the then-incumbent ITV regional company, as a continuity announcer and newsreader on the nightly local bulletin Westward Diary. When Westward lost its franchise in 1981, Britton moved to the local BBC headquarters as a presenter with Spotlight in the South West, before moving to BBC 1's News After Noon where she became the BBC's youngest-ever national news presenter.[2] She then went on to work at TVS in Southampton, co-hosting the South edition of the news programme Coast to Coast with Fred Dinenage, as well as Coast to Coast People, The Television Show, Magic Moments and as assistant presenter with Stefan Buczacki on one series of That's Gardening.

Britton has since worked on a variety of programmes, including Carlton Television's After Five, BBC's Breakfast Time, GMTV, London News Network's London Tonight and (as a guest reporter) BBC One's Holiday. She also appeared in the first two series of The Brian Conley Show. In 1994, Britton presented the popular television cookery gameshow Ready Steady Cook, which she continued until 2000, when chef Ainsley Harriott took over. In 2002, she was the host of the Pride of Britain Awards. Britton has also appeared twice as a panellist on the satirical panel show, Have I Got News for You, which she later guest presented on 27 April 2007 and again on 17 October 2008.

In 2006, Britton co-presented the reality television show Soapstar Superstar and, in the same year, co-hosted the British Soap Awards. She has also made a guest appearance on the comedy show Extras. On 31 May 2007, she hosted the Classical BRIT Awards at the Royal Albert Hall and she also co-hosted the British Soap Awards in 2006, 2007 and 2008, with Phillip Schofield.

Britton co-hosted the popular television magazine show This Morning with Phillip Schofield, joining the programme in 1999. When Britton joined the show, This Morning saw viewing figures rise considerably.[3] Since Britton and Schofield began presenting This Morning, the show has won the TV Quick Award for Best Daytime Viewing in both 2003 and 2004, and a National Television Award for Most Popular Daytime Show in 2004. On 13 July 2007, whilst Britton was presenting This Morning, members of her family appeared on the set after the show had organised a mini-celebration for Britton's 50th birthday. In December 2007, Britton went on a secret trip to Basra, Iraq for four days to broadcast behind-the-scenes footage of the British troops stationed in the area.

In 2007, Britton presented her own nostalgic ITV Saturday night series called That's What I Call Television. In each show, she was joined by a celebrity co-host who selected their favourite TV moments from the 1980s and then reunited some of the original stars of selected shows. Julian Clary was her first co-host, followed by Matthew Kelly on the second show, and finally Bradley Walsh for the third. In December 2007, a Christmas edition was broadcast with co-host Ronnie Corbett, and a week later another was broadcast, this time with Desmond Lynam. On 12 January 2008, Britton won on the first episode of the television comedy series Thank God You're Here, presented by Paul Merton.[4]

In April 2008, Britton and her colleague Phillip Schofield presented a revival of the ITV show Mr & Mrs, this time it was an "All Star" version, airing as a six-part series on Saturday nights.[5]

In November 2008, Britton announced she was to take a break from This Morning and return after the Christmas break in January 2009.[6][7] Britton announced on 25 March 2009 that she was leaving This Morning, after 10 years, at the end of the current series.[8] Two days after quitting This Morning, Britton pulled out of hosting the 2009 British Soap Awards alongside co-host Phillip Schofield.[9] A new series of All Star Mr & Mrs began on 2 May 2009 on ITV, again cohosted by Britton and Phillip Schofield.

On 17 July 2009, Britton's 52nd birthday, her farewell This Morning programme was aired. She wept as the cast and crew and her friends paid tribute.[10]

In 2009, Britton was a panellist on the TV trivia game shows As Seen on TV and Would I Lie to You?. On 2 November 2009, she appeared as a stand in host on The Paul O'Grady Show.

From 29 November 2009, she hosted a series for BBC One called Fern Britton Meets... in which she interviewed high profile personalities about their religious beliefs. The series attracted particular attention for an interview with former Prime Minister Tony Blair, in which he said he still would have thought it right that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein be removed even without evidence he had weapons of mass destruction.[11]

On 2 February 2011, it was confirmed that Britton would be taking over the 5:00 pm chatshow slot on Channel 4 that Paul O'Grady previously hosted. The show, Fern,[12] began on 28 March 2011. The programme aired to low ratings and was reported to be facing a revamp, change of timeslot or cancellation after its second week on air.[13] The show has since been confirmed as axed in its present form but Britton may work on other projects for Channel 4.[14]

She has guest presented LIVE with... on Channel 5. Since 2014, Fern has presented The Big Allotment Challenge for BBC Two. The series was commissioned for a second series which will air in 2015.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Channel Role Notes
1994-2000 Ready Steady Cook BBC Two Presenter
1999-2009 This Morning ITV Co-presenter With Phillip Schofield
2006 Soapstar Superchef Co-presenter With Ben Shephard
2006-2008 The British Soap Awards Co-presenter With Phillip Schofield
2007 Classic Brit Awards Presenter
That's What I Call Television Presenter
2008-2010 All Star Mr & Mrs Co-presenter With Phillip Schofield
2009 As Seen on TV BBC One Team Captain
The Paul O'Grady Show Channel 4 Stand-in presenter For one episode
2009— Fern Britton Meets... BBC One Presenter
2011 Fern Channel 4 Presenter
2014— The Big Allotment Challenge BBC Two Presenter

Weight loss controversy[edit]

Britton attracted considerable criticism for claiming that she had lost weight naturally through diet and exercise, telling Now magazine, "I just ate a bit healthier and took up cycling to work ... It's taken me two years and a lot of hard work."[15] Although to a certain extent, this is true, with an ITV spokesperson saying: "We weren't aware of this matter, but over the last two years Fern has cycled down the Nile, she exercises most days and has a very healthy lifestyle and healthy diet. As far as we're concerned, she lives and breathes what she talks about."[15] She had, in fact, had gastric band surgery and despite initial denials by her agent admitted this was the cause of her weight loss when exposed by the News of the World newspaper.[16] Britton did not apologise for keeping her operation secret,[17] something exacerbated by the fact that she appeared in advertisements promoting Ryvita as a method of losing weight and had even produced an exercise video.[18] All of Britton's employers were unaware of the surgery.[17]

However, other television presenters such as Paul O'Grady came out on their shows to defend Britton, claiming that it was "tantamount to bullying ... look at Jade Goody and what happened"[19] and co-host Phillip Schofield, in an interview with The Sun, said that "It's no one else's business that she had a gastric band fitted, despite the public backlash against her."[20] Other newspapers defended Britton's right to privacy, such as The Guardian, in which Barbara Ellen argued that Britton should have been allowed to make a private medical decision.[21] After the News of the World published its revelation, Britton confessed to the surgery on her own show, also stating that she "spoke carefully" about her weight loss and saying "I didn't lie, there was no need to lie" about her surgery.[22]

Other work[edit]

In 1988, Britton took part in a Cinderella pantomime in which she played the title role at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. She was presenting Coast to Coast from the city at the time and her preparation for the part was filmed for the programme.

Britton has starred in advertisements for several companies and causes, including appearances as herself in advertisements for several Ryvita Minis, and in the 2007 What's it going to take? campaign for the charitable organisation Women's Aid.

March 1998 saw the launch of Britton's first book, Fern's Family Favourites, published by André Deutsch and written with the cook and home economist Susie Magasiner.

In November 2008, Fern, My Story was published by Michael Joseph. It went straight into The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller list where it remained for 12 weeks.[citation needed]

In May 2011, Britton played herself in a short independently made film by Mark Davenport called Photoshopping alongside lead Joan Kempson.[citation needed]

On 10 September 2012, Britton was confirmed as one of the 14 celebrities taking part in the tenth series of Strictly Come Dancing. Her professional partner was Artem Chigvintsev. She was eliminated from the competition on 11 November 2012, after losing the dance-off to Kimberley Walsh.

Personal life[edit]

Before Britton met her current husband, she was married to TV executive Clive Jones. The two met while Jones was still married and began an affair. Britton broke off their affair after a year but Jones showed up on her doorstep two days later, having left his wife for her.[23] The couple married on 12 November 1988 in Southsea[23] and had three children together: twin sons Jack and Harry (born 1994) and daughter Grace (born 1997).[24] Her marriage to Jones began to fall apart not long after and the couple officially split in 1998.[24] A year later, Britton started dating celebrity chef Phil Vickery. The two met on the set of BBC2's Ready Steady Cook and married in 2000.[24] The couple have a daughter, Winnie (born August 2001), and currently reside in Buckinghamshire.[25]

In May 2008, Britton announced that she had had a gastric band fitted to help her lose weight. She reported that she was very pleased with the band, but urged others not to follow her example. In a statement, she said, "Many people are interested in my weight loss. As interest is so high, I am making public that I had a gastric band operation two years ago. I did this for myself and I would not wish to influence others to do the same. For me it has worked and I am pleased with the results."[26][27]

Britton was one of the celebrities, including Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand, E. L. James and Rachel Riley, to design and sign her own card for the UK-based charity Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. The campaign was launched by crafting company Stampin’ Up! UK and the cards were auctioned off on eBay during May 2014.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fifteen To One". Celebrity #3. September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Fern: The Great Britton". Daily Express. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2008. 
  3. ^ "Fern brightens This Morning figures". BBC News. 8 November 2001. Retrieved 2 February 2007. 
  4. ^ "Its the wimple life for Fern". The Sun (London). 11 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "Fern and Phil are Mr and Mrs II". The Sun (London). 10 January 2008. 
  6. ^ "Fern Britton to take break from This Morning | TV News". Now Magazine. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Television – News – Britton announces 'This Morning' break". Digital Spy. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Dowell, Ben (25 March 2009). "Fern Britton to leave This Morning". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 March 2009. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Sheridan, Emily (17 July 2009). "Tears and cheers as This Morning throws Fern Britton a farewell party full of tributes and cocktails". Daily Mail (London). 
  11. ^ "Removing Saddam was right, even without WMD – Blair". BBC News. 12 December 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Fern Britton bags teatime chat show on Channel 4". Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  13. ^ 'Fern Britton chat show facing the axe' Digital Spy 9 April 2011.
  14. ^ 'Fern Britton's show dropped by Channel 4' Digital Spy 11 May 2011.
  15. ^ a b We expose secret of TV star's 'diet' | News Of The World
  16. ^ "Showbiz – News – Fern Britton reveals gastric band secret". Digital Spy. 1 June 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Ruki Sayid. "Video: Fern Britton refuses to apologise for not admitting having a gastric band – Mirror Online". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  18. ^ Tom Bryant (2 June 2008). "Fern Britton admits weight loss operation – Mirror Online". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  19. ^ Paul O'Grady, "Leave Fern Britton Alone!" (HQ) on YouTube
  20. ^ Lee, Cara (20 January 2009). "Phillip Leave Fern alone". The Sun (London). 
  21. ^ Ellen, Barbara (8 June 2008). "Leave Fern alone, you hypocritical fattists". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  22. ^ Fern Britton Gastric Band Confession on YouTube
  23. ^ a b "Fern Britton: Drink-driving, a suicide attempt and my love for a married man...". Daily Mail (London). 27 October 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c Day, Elizabeth (29 March 2009). "Cuddly queen of the breakfast sofa". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  25. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (15 July 2011). "Saturday interview: Fern Britton". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  26. ^ TV's Fern Britton: Yes, I've had gastric band to lose weight – mirror.co.uk[dead link]
  27. ^ PMR -
  28. ^ Rebecca Pocklington (6 May 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand and more celebrities design and sign cards for UK's first children's charity". Mirror Online. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
First Host of Ready Steady Cook
1994–2000
Succeeded by
Ainsley Harriott
Preceded by
Coleen Nolan and Twiggy
Host of This Morning
2001–2009
with John Leslie (2001–2002)
Phillip Schofield (2002–2009)
Succeeded by
Holly Willoughby