His fabulous feud with Lily Allen. THAT exclusive interview with Donald Trump. An unexpected bear hug from Sir Elton John. And a beasting from Sue Perkins – it’s our columnist’s …Morgan Awards 2018!
Wow, what a year. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve spent the past 12 months being dragged through a field of rather spiky corn.
The two dominant themes have been President Trump and Brexit, and it’s hard to know which has been more divisive, polarising or liable to send liberal Twitter into the biggest spasm of volcanic rage.
But it’s been a great 2018 for me, with Good Morning Britain surging to new highs as we served the nation a daily Tabasco-fuelled fry-up of laughter, heated debate, big scoops (including the only two British TV interviews with my mate The Donald and the first TV interview with Thomas Markle) and withering Susanna Reid eye-rolls.
It’s been a great 2018 for me, with Good Morning Britain surging to new highs as we served the nation a daily Tabasco-fuelled fry-up of laughter, heated debate, big scoops and withering Susanna Reid eye-rolls
Oh, and Arsène Wenger finally quit as Arsenal manager after nine years of me begging him to fall on his sword, and just seconds before my spleen finally erupted.
It wasn’t all sweetness and light, though; my old friend Meghan Markle ghosted me, Harry Hill pied me in the face to avenge my mockery of men who wear papooses, Susanna found love with a 53-year-old football-loving man who wasn’t me, and we lost some people who meant a lot to me. Professor Stephen Hawking and Charles Aznavour, two heroes for very different reasons, who both gave me what turned out to be their last TV interviews, and nightclub king Peter Stringfellow, who gave me many of the most amusing nights of my life as a young showbiz reporter. It was also a year when enraged vegans, radical feminists and gender-fluid campaigners competed with each other to suck all the joy out of life.
On a more positive note, I attended some spectacularly brilliant parties, engaged in some gloriously bitchy celebrity feuds, and nearly watched Gareth Southgate’s young England team win the World Cup again for the first time since I was 16 months old.
Piers with wife Celia and Susanna Reid at the GQ Men Of The Year Awards
Joan Collins and her husband Percy invited Celia and me to dine with them at Le Strand in St Tropez. ‘Have the potato and truffle starter,’ commanded Joan, ‘it’s incredible.’ So I did, and it was the most delicious dish I’ve ever eaten
Here then are the 2018 Morgan Awards.
MOST UNEXPECTED POLL YouGov revealed I am currently the fifth most famous person in the UK with a 98% recognition rating, only trailing David Beckham (100%), Theresa May (100%), Prince William (99%) and Paul McCartney (99%) – and beating Prince Harry, John Lennon, Daniel Craig, Boris Johnson and the England Football Team (all 97%).
LIAR OF THE YEAR Ice-skating villain Tonya Harding, whose ex-husband and bodyguard hired a hitman to cripple her No 1 rival Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Winter Olympics. Tonya appeared on GMB to discuss the hit movie about her life, I, Tonya, and stormed out when I grilled her about exactly what she knew of the plan for the attack. ‘I knew NOTHING prior,’ she insisted, before ripping off her microphone. Four days later, she admitted to ABC: ‘I knew something was up, I did overhear them talking: “Well, maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure [Harding] gets on the team.” ’
MOST ABSURD VIRTUE-SIGNALLING HYPOCRISY Altrincham Grammar School for Girls in Manchester banned staff and pupils from using the word ‘girls’ so they don’t offend transgender people. However, it will still be called Altrincham Grammar School For Girls.
BEST ‘I DIDN’T GET THE #METOO MEMO’ CELEBRITY Ivana Trump, who spray-gunned me and Susanna Reid with kisses after appearing on GMB, then subjected us both to very lascivious body frisks, while shrieking delightedly: ‘This is NOT sexual harassment!’
LEAST SURPRISING REVELATION OF THE YEAR ‘I am not a feminist’ – President Donald Trump to me in his first British TV interview after winning the US election. American chat-show host Seth Myers mocked my line of questioning: ‘Asking Trump if he’s a feminist is like asking Hannibal Lecter if he’s a vegan.’
‘How on earth do you put up with him?’ Celia and Susanna both exclaimed, in disturbingly cohesive unison
MOST UNLIKELY FAN The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, told me she’s an avid watcher of GMB. ‘I really love the dust-ups!’ Just hope she hasn’t got me confused with Jeremy Kyle.
LEAST HELPFUL CONSOLATION After Arsenal lost 1-0 in the north London derby, my foul mood wasn’t enhanced when I had the following email exchange with my wife. Celia: ‘Did Arsenal win?’ Me: ‘No, we got stuffed by Spurs.’ Celia: ‘Oh dear, well at least you didn’t lose to Tottenham.’
MOST UNLIKELY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR After NME voted me Villain Of The Year, beating Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, Jeremy Hunt and Katie Hopkins, Liam Gallagher insisted it should have been his brother Noel. ‘He’s worse than Kim Jon-f****** Tung or whatever he’s called. He’s worse than Trump… and he’s even worse than Piers Morgan.’
BEST BITCHY ZINGER Keith Richards, after Sir Elton John announced a 300-date farewell tour: ‘After three years on the road with Elton, you’d want to retire too…’
Keith Richards, after Sir Elton John announced a 300-date farewell tour: ‘After three years on the road with Elton, you’d want to retire too…’
MOST INSPIRING QUOTE Sir Roger Bannister, who died in March, once told me the African bush proverb that motivated him to break the four-minute mile: ‘Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running!’
BEST FATHER OF THE BRIDE When Sir Ian Botham’s daughter Sarah got married in the Scottish highlands, the great man walked her to the ceremony in a kilt. I asked Sarah what touching words her father had imparted as they strolled to the service. ‘He said it was one of the best days of his life,’ she chuckled, ‘because his horse had just won, so had Scunthorpe United and he was finally getting rid of me – so he’d had another hat-trick!’
MOST CRUSHING REJECTION Coronation Street producer Kate Oates was criticised for making storylines too grim by featuring male rape, sex trafficking, suicide and murder. ‘I’m available to play Kym Marsh’s new love interest,’ I told her. ‘That’s too dark,’ she grimaced, ‘even for me.’
BEST MARITAL ADVICE The late Charles Aznavour, in his last TV interview, told me the secret of his confrontation-free 52-year marriage: ‘One or the other has to shut up.’
BEST TV SHOW PITCH At Dale Winton’s funeral, one speaker recounted how Dale sealed his audition for the series that made him a star, with a rousing cri de coeur that ended: ‘You will find Shergar and Lord Lucan before you find a better presenter of Supermarket Sweep than me!’ He was so right.
BEST MEAL Joan Collins and her husband Percy invited Celia and me to dine with them at Le Strand in St Tropez. ‘Have the potato and truffle starter,’ commanded Joan, ‘it’s incredible.’ So I did, and it was the most delicious dish I’ve ever eaten.
MOST INSPIRING SPEECH Professor Stephen Hawking’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey ended with a final booming message from the greatest mind of his generation, accompanied by stirring new music from Vangelis: ‘I am very aware of the preciousness of time. Seize the moment. Act now. Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done… IT CAN BE DONE!’
MOST SHOCKING EXCLAMATION My demure GMB colleague Charlotte Hawkins rarely gets flustered when she reads the news, but lost her cool when the autocue froze seconds before we went to air. Her concern was exacerbated by the particularly sensitive nature of one of the main stories. ‘The script has gone down!’ she shouted, ‘and I really don’t want to go alfresco about a bionic penis!’
MOST SHAMELESS HYPOCRITE Lily Allen, who rants ad nauseam about tabloid intrusion into her private life, released an autobiography in which she revealed she slept with female prostitutes, had sex on a plane with Liam Gallagher behind his wife’s back, caught James Blunt romping in her hotel room, was raped by a music executive, took loads of drugs and was cruelly neglected by her father Keith. Her new album, appropriately, is titled No Shame.
MOST HUMILIATING COCK-UP When Love Island dimwit Hayley Hughes appeared on GMB, I decided to exposed her stupidity by asking her: ‘Do you know Pythagoras’ theorem to five decimal places?’ When she said no, Susanna Reid asked me if I did. ‘Yes, it’s 3.147…’ I confidently began, before one of our camera crew shouted out: ‘That’s Pi, not Pythagoras!’ I froze in horror. He was right, and I’d mugged myself right off.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR, OR INDEED ANY YEAR Danny Dyer on the inaugural Good Evening Britain: ‘No one has got a f*****g clue what Brexit is. It’s like this mad riddle. So what’s happened to that t*** David Cameron who called it on? How comes he can scuttle off? Where is he? He’s in Europe, in Nice, with his trotters up, yeah? Where IS the geezer? He should be held to account for it.’ Then he paused for several seconds before unleashing a second devastating ‘T***’.
MOST WORRYING SIGN OF OLD AGE CREEPING IN ‘Where are my sunglasses?’ I demanded to know of my three sons while holidaying on a beach in Antigua. They all smirked. ‘IT’S NOT FUNNY!’ I raged. ‘WHERE HAVE YOU BLOODY PUT THEM? YOU LOT ARE ALWAYS TAKING MY STUFF AND I’M FED UP WITH IT!’ They now looked at each other with first genuine bemusement, and then serious eyebrow-raised concern. ‘Dad,’ said Spencer, the eldest, eventually, ‘you’re wearing them.’
WEIRDEST DINNER Lord Sugar threw a lavish affair aboard his 180ft yacht Lady A, temporarily moored next to Tower Bridge. Other guests included American billionaire banker Vernon Hill. Vernon and his wife Shirley brought their dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Duffy, or Sir Duffield II to give him his full title, who sat opposite me on his own chair throughout dinner, eating everything we ate on the same plates we used. He even had his own napkin, tucked into his collar, and occasionally erupted into ferocious barking if service slowed up.
MOST SAVAGE CRITIQUES
1) As frenzy grew over the big Royal Wedding, I pondered aloud on Good Morning Britain ‘What’s Prince Harry got that I haven’t?’ The Sun’s TV critic, Ally Ross, answered thus: ‘The public’s affection, a certain sense of humility, a distinguished military record, a degree of charisma, a body mass index lower than his age, the regulation number of chins, an unrestricted view of his genitals and a mouth that doesn’t twitch like Watership Down’s sphincter during a myxomatosis outbreak whenever someone else talks. Among other things.’
Piers with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Piers attended Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
2) ‘I’d rather douche myself with a hedgehog than listen to another second of this.’ Cake show presenter Sue Perkins on watching me interview President Trump.
3) After GMB beat BBC’s Newsnight on a coin toss to win the coveted Ultimate News Quiz, losing captain Emily Maitlis texted me: ‘You were always going to win, Morgan… because you’re a world-class tosser.’
4) When rumours spread about me having Botox, my wife Celia called in to Lorraine when I was a guest, to say: ‘He hasn’t, but I do have a theory about his freakishly smooth forehead, and that is his ego is so large it’s actually pushing outwards and plumping out the skin from within.’
5) ‘Piers Morgan’s return to America is about as welcome as the return of Ebola…’ Jack Whitehall at Hollywood’s Britannia Awards. ‘Sorry,’ Whitehall chortled as the crowd gasped, ‘I shouldn’t compare Piers Morgan to Ebola… that’s very unfair to Ebola.’
MY FIVE BEST PARTIES OF 2018
1) Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Wonderful food (the cakes were all musical instruments), delicious wine, hilarious speeches, fantastic performances from some of his biggest musical stars – and even a bear hug from Sir Elton to end our latest feud.
2) My 53rd birthday party at AOC in Beverly Hills, in which all of my 24 guests, including Gary Lineker, Bruno Tonioli and Mark Wright, bought me bottles of French red wine. They also gave me a cake with my head morphed into President Trump’s, explaining: ‘Like Donald, you love yourself so much you could, and now will, eat yourself.’
3) Newspaper chief Rebekah Brooks threw a fabulous 50th birthday party in Oxfordshire, in which she separated all 250 or so guests on to four, long gender-exclusive dinner tables: two male, two female. I found myself sitting with my old boss Rupert Murdoch, mobile phone tycoon Sir Charles Dunstone and Blur pop star Alex James. ‘This is great!’ I declared. ‘We can talk about sport, business and women all night!’ And that’s exactly what we did, most enjoyably, over copious quantities of fish and chips, fine wine, brandy and cigars. Frankly, if this is radical feminism utopia, I’m all for it.
4) The Spectator magazine’s 190th birthday party, during which Boris Johnson dementedly chanted ‘Trump, Trump, Trump’ at me, David Davis solemnly assured me he wouldn’t quit as Brexit Secretary then quit five days later, and two people dressed in 19th-century garb ordered me to woof like a dog, which just about summed up this barking mad political year.
5) GQ Men Of The Year Awards. My two wives – the real one, Celia, and the TV one, Susanna Reid – were either side of me.
‘How on earth do you put up with him?’ they both exclaimed, in disturbingly cohesive unison. Kate Beckinsale was on our table in an extremely flesh-revealing dress. ‘It was SO windy out there, I fear I may have revealed a bit TOO much on the red carpet…’ she giggled. ‘I just hope nobody saw my ******!’
MY BEST TWITTER SPAT
Pop queen Ariana Grande came for me after I suggested female singers should desist from stripping off to sell records: ‘I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because I choose to,’ she snapped. ‘Women can be sexual AND talented, naked AND dignified. It’s OUR choice & we will keep fighting til people understand. I say this w all due respect but thank u, next.’
‘Hi Ariana!’ I responded. ‘Of course women can do what they like, but if they/you use nudity to sell their records to impressionable young female fans, I’ll continue to call them/you out on it. All due respect but thank YOU. Next.’
She wasn’t finished. ‘Also, Piers Morgan, I look forward to the day you realise there are other ways to go about making yourself relevant than to criticize young, beautiful successful women. I think that’ll be a beautiful thing for you and your career or what’s left of it.’
‘Now now, young lady,’ I responded, ‘my career’s doing just fine thanks. For the record, I criticise/praise everyone – male, female, gender-fluid. Indeed, I’ve written columns praising and criticising you, and you deserved both.’
Ariana then tweeted a spoof ad I once did for Burger King in which I lay by a fire like Burt Reynolds in a loincloth and medallion to promote a beef-scented aftershave. ‘When you do it, it’s ok tho, right?’ she sneered.
‘Is that your screensaver?’ I asked.
‘Nah,’ she snapped, ‘and it ain’t ur girls’ either, I can promise u that.’
(Fact check: true.)
Merry Christmas everyone – I’ll be back with my usual column on January 13.