It’s been another insane year, as Britain’s prolonged collective Brexit dementia reduced us all to a quarrelling, squabbling, sneering rabble of self-righteous lunatics.
Fortunately, the celebrity world has raced to our rescue by providing a particularly glorious 12 months of comical light relief in its usual cack-handed, hypocritical, self-aggrandising way – led by the world’s most woke couple, Meghan and Harry, who just love to avoid practising what they preach.
On a personal front, it’s a been a great year, with Good Morning Britain hitting record ratings highs and my on-screen relationship with Susanna Reid becoming the biggest ‘will-they-or-won’t-they?’ romantic cliff-hanger since David and Maddie in Moonlighting. (Spoiler alert: Susanna says they most definitely won’t…)
Piers Morgan with Dame Joan Collins and his Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid at Ascot in June
Piers with EastEnders star Jake Wood and his Heat award. Editor Julia Davis gushed: ‘We didn’t think anyone could fancy Piers more than he fancies himself but it’s happened’
I also landed the only TV interview my old friend President Trump gave during his first state visit to the UK, conducted in the bowels of the Churchill War Rooms, where Trump put on the Churchill hat I gave him as a gift, sparking endless social media gifs and memes.
It was a year when I took on radical feminists, vegan sausage-roll eaters, non-binary-gender-fluid campaigners, papoose-wearers, and anyone else who sees their mission in life as the destruction of civilisation as we know it.
But on a more positive note, 2019 has been a year when I’ve attended some brilliant parties, enjoyed myriad deliciously enjoyable Twitter spats and had random encounters with megastars such as Ariana Grande that still make me chuckle many months later.
Here, then, are the 2019 Morgan Awards.
MOST CRUSHING DISAPPOINTMENT
The year got off to a terrible start when I only came second in Channel 4’s The Last Leg D*** Of The Year list, beaten to the top slot by Jacob Rees-Mogg. I mean, what more does a man have to do?
MOST PLEASING MOMENT
On a more positive note, I won Heat magazine’s Secret Crush Of 2019 award, beating off ‘rivals’ including Lord Sugar, Kanye West and Jeremy Clarkson. Editor Julia Davis gushed: ‘We didn’t think anyone could fancy Piers more than he fancies himself but it’s happened.’
MOST SINISTER THREAT
Lorraine Kelly told Weekend magazine: ‘If I had to sit next to Piers Morgan on the sofa every day, I’d strangle him with my bare hands. It would be justifiable homicide.’ But even that was tame compared to Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell who, after we locked horns about the Trident nuclear deterrent, angrily unclipped his microphone and spat to our GMB crew: ‘I wonder if you can nuke an individual TV presenter?’
WORST MAKE-UP MALFUNCTION
Susanna ‘Ronseal’ Reid massively overdid a spray-tanning session and arrived like she’d been lying on a Barbados beach for a decade, prompting Twitter to erupt with hilarity every time she raised her jet-black paws. ‘WET WIPES, NOW!’ she screamed during a commercial break, before frantically scrubbing her hands back to ashen white again, meaning they then looked a completely different colour to her dark brown face.
MOST UNLIKELY COMPLIMENT
Cristiano Ronaldo, the man with the best abs in world sport, gave me unexpected praise that may end up on my tombstone: ‘Piers, you have good abdominals.’
‘There were rumours you and Geri were more than just good friends,’ I said to Mel B on my Life Stories TV show. ‘Did you have a little dabble?’
After beating around the bush for a few minutes, Mel finally grinned, and nodded. ‘Yeah, and now I’ve said it she’s going to kill me, and so’s her husband.’
MOST TRUTHFUL CELEBRITY
I met Joe Pesci, star of Martin Scorsese’s new movie, The Irishman, at a Los Angeles golf club. ‘What’s your handicap?’ I asked.
‘Twenty-three,’ he replied. ‘It used to be a lot lower but I’d rather be honest about my game. People out here have what I call a ‘Hollywood handicap’, where they pretend to be better than they are. It’s the only place in the world where golfers would rather show off and lose than admit their correct handicap and perhaps win.’
‘Ariana Grande and I had a little feud on Twitter, so things could have been very awkward when we bumped into each other soon afterwards in a Beverly Hills restaurant. Instead, she joined me at my table for three hours of laughter, tears, revelations, selfies and bizarre, newfound friendship’
MOST RANDOM ENCOUNTER
Ariana Grande and I had a little feud on Twitter, so things could have been very awkward when we bumped into each other soon afterwards in a Beverly Hills restaurant. Instead, she joined me at my table for three hours of laughter, tears, revelations, selfies and bizarre, newfound friendship. I think we were both relieved to discover the other wasn’t quite as bad as we’d feared.
AWARD FOR STATING THE BLEEDING OBVIOUS
‘I am loath to say it,’ Susanna Reid told GQ, ‘but Piers is a genius.’
LEAST PLAUSIBLE CONVERSION TO VEGANISM
Gordon Ramsay’s sudden evolution into a non-meat-eater came as something of a surprise to those of us who remember him replying ‘VEGANS!’ in 2016 to a Twitter follower who asked if he had any allergies. Then there was his subsequent tweet last year, saying: ‘I’m a member of Peta! People Eating Tasty Animals.’
MOST SHAMELESS TURNCOAT
Amanda Holden appeared on Celebrity Juice, and host Keith Lemon asked her the following question: ‘David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan – s***, marry or kill?’
My ‘closest and most ferociously loyal celebrity friend’ weighed up the potential career repercussions of her dilemma for several seconds.
She then declared: ‘I’ll s*** Simon, marry David… and kill Piers.’
MOST REASSURING CLARIFICATION
‘Is Piers Morgan a psychopath?’ asked the Radio Times, which got me to answer a detailed test set by a psychology expert from Oxford University.
‘Piers does possess some psychopathic tendencies,’ concluded the expert. ‘He’s persuasive, charismatic, cool under pressure and can be ruthless when he has to. But in other ways he is un-psychopathic: he’s reliable, hard-working and very empathetic. You might call him a good psychopath!’
LEAST NECESSARY SELF-BAN
Les Dennis announced that he won’t appear on any TV show I present because I was supposedly once mean to him when he made a fool of himself on Celebrity Big Brother. ‘I won’t go on Life Stories,’ he insisted, ‘and I’ll only go on Good Morning Britain on a Thursday when Ben Shephard’s there.’ I don’t think I’ve ever felt less devastated by a snub.
‘I somehow persuaded the then Miss World, a Mexican beauty named Vanessa Ponce, to toss the coin at the annual charity cricket match against my village team’
Piers with Didier Drogba at Soccer Aid for Unicef. ‘On a personal front, it’s a been a great year, with Good Morning Britain hitting record ratings highs’
‘Trump put on the Churchill hat I gave him as a gift, sparking endless social media gifs and memes’
MOST HONEST ADMISSION
Damian Lewis and I debated team spirit, agreeing that it’s important to success, but that so is harnessing great talent, even if it’s egotistical and erratic.
‘There may be no “i’s” in team,’ I said, ‘but there are three in “winning side”.’
‘The bottom line,’ Lewis concurred, ‘is you put up with d***heads if they’re worth it.’
MOST OUTRAGEOUS MOMENT
Had dinner with top wildlife photographer David Yarrow just after he’d been snapping supermodel Cindy Crawford and a large wolf in Montana.
‘How did it go?’ I asked.
‘Great,’ he replied, ‘up to the point where I threw a big slab of raw chicken at the wolf and it flew right onto Cindy’s face.’
‘How did she take it?’
‘She just slowly peeled it off and said: “That was very… inappropriate.”’
FUNNIEST RESPONSE TO A TABLOID EXPOSE
When Sharon Osbourne was laughably (and wrongly) ‘exposed’ by the National Enquirer for her supposed ‘TRAGIC BATTLE WITH TOURETTE’S’, she posted the article to Instagram with the caption: ‘How the f*** did these motherf****** find this s*** out?’
MOST SENSATIONAL COUP
I somehow persuaded the then Miss World, a Mexican beauty named Vanessa Ponce, to toss the coin at the annual charity cricket match against my village team.
‘No sledging, and no picking the seam!’ she exclaimed as we gathered on the wicket. ‘I don’t actually know what that means,’ she confided to me, ‘but it sounds quite naughty.’
MOST HONEST REALITY-TV STAR
‘Hi, Piers! I’m Lucie Donlan off Love Island!’ cried a bubbly blonde at a party.
‘Oh jeez,’ I sighed.
‘Don’t worry!’ she laughed, ‘I haven’t come to have a go at you. I really like you, even if you call us brain-dead zombies!’
‘To be honest,’ she cackled hysterically, ‘you’re not wrong!’
From my late, great manager John Ferriter, who sadly died after a brief illness in July: ‘My goal in life is to be the person my dog thinks I am.’
MOST PLEASING REVIEW
Alan Partridge returned to our TV screens in This Time With Alan Partridge, based on the toe-curling buffoon hosting a morning TV show with a Susanna Reid lookalike. It bombed in the ratings and The Sun’s Ally Ross explained why: ‘There are many good reasons why Good Morning Britain is the most written about and imitated show on television… it’s a funny, complex and incredibly entertaining coupling beyond the reach of parody or satire. Once you’ve seen Piers Morgan playfully accuse Susanna Reid of having a cocaine habit at 6.10am, two lame copies just squabbling over each other’s lines isn’t any kind of substitute.’
BEST ABORTED MESSAGE
A friend of mine found himself sitting with Victoria Beckham at an event in Dubai and sent me the following summary of their conversation:
VB: ‘Is it true you know Piers Morgan?’
VB: ‘Can you send him a message from me?’
VB: ‘Tell him he’s a ****.’
Friend: ‘Will do.’
Half an hour later she returned.
VB: ‘Actually, don’t send that message.’
Friend: ‘Why not?’
VB: ‘Because it will make him happy.’
I was invited to take part in a charity event in which I would abseil down the outside of an iconic skyscraper. Apparently a ‘friend’ of mine recommended me.
My only phobia is heights, so I was curious as to which ‘friend’ had suggested my name for something that would terrify me.
‘Simon Cowell was keen to put you forward for this challenge,’ emailed the charity.
Of course he was…
‘So, you’re trying to kill me?’ I asked him at his summer party the following evening.
‘I’ll be honest,’ he guffawed, ‘I thought to myself, who do I know that everyone would enjoy see falling off the side of a massive skyscraper to almost certain death? And your name quickly sprang to mind, Piers!’
‘Cristiano Ronaldo, the man with the best abs in world sport, gave me unexpected praise that may end up on my tombstone: “Piers, you have good abdominals”‘
LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED JOB APPLICATION
Before the EU referendum in 2016, Sir Ian Botham confidently declared: ‘Brexit will definitely happen, and Boris will be Prime Minister.’
‘Has he promised you a job if you’re right?’ I asked.
‘Yes. Foreign Secretary. I’ll go and deal with that Merkel woman.’
When we met at Lord’s in August, after both his predictions had come true, England’s most swashbuckling cricketer had a surprising new Cabinet post in mind.
‘I’ve changed my mind and decided there’s only one government job that really suits my skill set,’ he announced.
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
MOST CUTTING PUT-DOWNS
1) ‘In this country they don’t like it if you criticise a national treasure,’ I told Jack Whitehall after his attempt to humiliate me while presenting the Brit Awards backfired.
‘You are a regional trinket,’ Whitehall retorted, ‘at best.’
2) Katie Piper went public about having a crush on me.
‘It’s all true,’ she admitted. ‘Though to be fair, I am blind in one eye.’
3) Leaving ITV’s summer party, I stood waiting for a cab alongside actresses Angela Griffin and Nicola Stephenson, who were doing the same. Three times one was about to arrive for me when suddenly each one mysteriously cancelled. ‘Piers,’ asked Angela eventually, ‘did you make the fatal mistake of using your real name?’
4) For years I enthusiastically pitched myself as Kym Marsh’s new love interest in Coronation Street, as a smooth-talking, silver-ish fox who sweeps Michelle Connor off her feet. Then Kym ruined everything by quitting. ‘Very selfish of you,’ I exclaimed when we met at a party.
‘I had to leave before someone actually took you seriously,’ she said. ‘I’ve done some very dark storylines but that would be too depraved, even for me.’
5) Dame Joan Collins, 86, informed me: ‘Piers, you’d be the perfect person to do the eulogy at my memorial service.’ Then she added: ‘Actually, looking at the state of you, I suspect I’ll be doing yours.’
1) A fabulously entertaining star-studded lunch at Fortnum & Mason, during which Barry ‘Dame Edna’ Humphries told me he’d got a new hearing aid that could be operated from his wife Lizzie Spender’s iPhone. Later, as Barry was deep in conversation with Nigella Lawson, I suggested to Lizzie we have some fun, taking her phone and turning Barry’s volume down to its lowest level. We watched in mounting hilarity as he edged closer to Nigella, seemingly straining to hear anything she was saying. ‘BARRY!’ I eventually exclaimed. He turned, startled. ‘I TURNED YOU OFF!’ He looked bemused for a second but then saw Lizzie’s phone in my hand and burst out laughing.
2) The Champneys ball in London was memorable for Bobby Davro’s hilariously non-PC after-dinner speech. ‘Joe Swash is a hard man to ignore,’ he quipped ‘but trust me – it’s worth the effort.’ Then he spied Frank Bruno and beseeched him to join him on stage. ‘GET UP, FRANK!’ he cried. ‘Come on, that’s what they used to shout at you in your boxing days.’ Even his ex-wife got sledged. ‘She was a babe,’ he said. ‘You’ve seen the film, right?’ He ended with the words: ‘If you’ve enjoyed my performance tonight, my name’s Bobby Davro. If you haven’t, it’s Jim Davidson – and if you really hated it, it’s Piers Morgan.’
3) A delightful dinner at the US Ambassador’s residence, where I sat next to Camilla Parker Bowles. At one stage she turned to my wife and said: ‘I hear you’ve got a novel coming out?’
‘I have!’ replied Celia, slightly startled that our future Queen Consort, who she’d never met, would know about her book. ‘What’s it about?’ asked Camilla. ‘A badly behaved man who gets a grisly comeuppance,’ Celia replied. Camilla glanced back to me and chuckled. ‘Oh that sounds… EXCELLENT!’
4) During an uproarious soirée with Joan Collins and her husband Percy at Club 55 in St Tropez, a French woman at the next table suddenly jumped up, shouted ‘ATTENTION!’ and launched herself at a startled Joan, roughly ripping her beautiful monochrome, wide-brimmed hat off her head.
‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?’ exclaimed Joan. ‘CATERPILLAR!’ the woman clarified in broken English. It turned out to be a pine processionary caterpillar, whose hairs can inflict very painful rashes on humans, and if inhaled can spark swelling, vomiting and in some cases, severe anaphylactic shock. Victims who swallow them have even been known to have their tongues amputated. ‘Thank you,’ I said to the French woman. ‘You may have just saved the life of Dame Joan Collins!’
FUNNIEST TWITTER EXCHANGES
1) When I tweeted that my daughter Elise had suddenly declared, for no apparent reason, ‘Daddy, I think you’re crazy!’, Ricky Gervais replied: ‘This also works if you swap ‘daughter’ for ‘world’.
2) Raheem Sterling scored a brilliant hat-trick for Manchester City, prompting me to tweet: ‘Can’t be anyone playing better football in the Premier League than Raheem Sterling. Incredible how much he has grown under Pep Guardiola, on and off the pitch. And very admirable.’
‘Wow, Piers,’ he replied. ‘Thx, I appreciate. Did someone hack your account?’