Less than four months ago, Susanna Reid was in the Strictly Come Dancing final, billed as the BBC’s most popular Breakfast host and in a 15-year relationship with a man she loved.
Fast forward and things have changed dramatically. Susanna is about to appear as a presenter on ITV’s new show Good Morning Britain after quitting the BBC and separating from Dominic Cotton, dad of her three sons.
Many people were shocked by Susanna’s decision to leave the BBC after almost two decades. In December she said: “If you cut me open the BBC runs through me like a stick of rock.” Remembering that, she says: “I met the father of my children on BBC Breakfast, I had my children when I was at BBC Breakfast and people know me from that.
“So of course it runs through me like a stick of rock. But now I am doing something else. It is time to start a new stick of rock.
“I don’t see it as a risk to leave the BBC. It feels like an adventure.”
And her relationship with Dominic? Was the “curse of Strictly” to blame for their break-up?
“I think people think Strictly was bound up in what happened. It wasn’t. Obviously things have been challenging in my personal life but we are getting things sorted,” Susanna told the Mirror newspaper.
“Dominic and I are still good friends and the kids come first. Strictly was, and will always be, an amazing, sparkly, ridiculous alternative reality planet I went on for a couple of months and I have great memories of it.
“Now it is all about Good Morning Britain. It is a good time to start something new, but I am still the same person. Things have just changed, as they do in everybody’s life.”
Susanna has been skilfully multi-tasking in recent years. She juggled commuting to the BBC’s Salford studios from her London home with bringing up their three sons and other TV jobs. And she’s coped with what she has described as an “emotional time” and faced the embarrassment of her split from Dominic being announced at the end of February, when he appeared on an internet dating site announcing he was single.
Reminded of this, Susanna looks teary. But she insists she has moved on and forgiven her former partner for the way the break-up became public.
Asked if she knew he was using a dating site just weeks after the couple tried to patch up their relationship on Valentine’s Day, she says: “You would appreciate I will not go into detail about that. We are both hugely respectful and caring about each other and as our roles as parents. I wouldn’t go into the detail of our personal lives.
“It is our responsibility to be friends. We need to keep everything else private for the kids. My 15-year relationship hasn’t finished. I still have a very good relationship with the father of my children.
“We are making sure we do what is right for the kids. As anyone knows the breakdown of a relationship is never easy but we are getting on with things positively. The kids are back at school, Dom has a new job and I have this job. And what a job it is to take on.”
Susanna is joining ITV to launch Good Morning Britain alongside Ben Shephard, Charlotte Hawkins and Sean Fletcher.
Following the flop of Daybreak – which has been averaging 600,000 viewers – Good Morning Britain will launch with a newsy edge and ITV bosses hope Susanna and Ben’s charm in particular will win over new viewers.
Comparisons between her and Daybreak’s initial host Christine Bleakley are inevitable given they both jumped ship from the BBC after a stint on Strictly. But Susanna is quick to dispel the link.
“Christine is a charismatic and engaging presenter,” she says. “Daybreak didn’t work for a number of reasons but I don’t think Christine was one of them. There is nothing wrong with Adrian [Chiles] as a presenter, either.
“Sometimes things don’t work the way you think they are going to work.
“We come to our programme with all that knowledge and history and we are determined to do things a little differently. I have already had good luck messages from Christine.”
Ben Shephard and Susanna haven’t worked together before but have seen each other “Lycra clad and sweaty” after meeting in a park a few years ago. They’ve been bonding in recent weeks, including at a football match where Susanna’s Crystal Palace beat Ben’s West Ham.
Susanna, who presented Breakfast with Bill Turnbull, is at pains to stress she is “not earning a million pounds” and ITV sources put her salary at closer to £400,000.
She says: “We are lucky to be generously paid. But the days of million-pound presenters are gone. It is nothing I have experienced.
“I am focused on a new programme. Imagine if it works? If people watch and love it and they think they want us in their kitchens, that is the ultimate privilege and what we would love.
“I have always said there is room for two strong breakfast programmes. That is what we have to do, make a very strong breakfast programme that people will watch.”
Good Morning Britain starts on ITV on Monday, April 28