Make-up free and wrapped in a fluffy white dressing down, Susanna Reid has a glow about her that should be criminal for someone who’s been up since 3.45am.

Although we’re used to seeing Susanna as the immaculate, razor-sharp presenter grilling tricky politicians on Good Morning Britain, she is also a loving mum to three boys – Sam, 20, Finn, 18, and Jack, 17 – and is currently dealing with the complex emotions surrounding empty nest syndrome.

During our cover shoot in support of GMB’s 1 Million Minutes campaign – which aims to eradicate loneliness in the UK – she tells us how her eldest, Sam, recently headed off to university and it’s clearly been a wrench.

“You cry your heart out, because all that regular time with your children is gone,” she says. “It’s really sad. Now they’re all en route to leaving home, I want to enjoy time with them as much as I possibly can. Good Morning Britain is my biggest commitment and I’m not taking on anything extra.”

The presenter’s illustrious 28-year career has seen her switch from BBC Breakfast to helm GMB via a 2013 stint on Strictly, as well as make hard-hitting documentaries about serial rapists and death row inmates in America.

Her commitment to her day job will come as reassurance to her bosses at ITV. GMB’s audience share is up year on year, while Susanna’s headline-grabbing interrogation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May pulled in a whopping 1.3 million viewers.

“For four and a half years Boris said he wouldn’t do an interview with GMB,” says Susanna. “Then I was able to go to Downing Street and put the big questions directly to the man in charge. The audience responded really well. It’s what they want and it’s why I don’t want the ministers to cut down on the interview time.”

This is a current sore point for Susanna, 51, who is challenging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent drive to reduce MPs’ appearances on breakfast TV and radio.

“This morning I registered a protest about Rishi stopping government ministers from doing the breakfast shows every day,” she reveals. “I said, ‘If you want full accountability, you don’t do that by doing fewer interviews.’ Rishi is really enthusiastic, though, and he’s got a grasp of the details. He’s somebody you could not criticise for being lax or lazy.”

It’s been 20 months since her former co-presenter Piers Morgan, 56, quit after a row over remarks he made about Meghan Markle. Some predicted the show would struggle without the divisive presenter, but it’s flourishing.

“We're still in contact regularly and he’s doing what he does best,” Susanna says of her former colleague.

So has Piers tried to poach her for Talk TV? “That was never on the cards,” she says. “But in terms of how the dynamic’s changed on GMB, I think we have maintained a very lively programme. I’m so lucky, because I get to work with somebody different all the time and it means they don’t get tired of me.

“Richard Madeley is a television legend, Ed Balls has so much political insight, Rob Rinder has his exceptional legal skills and Martin Lewis is the hero of the cost of living crisis. Then there’s Ben Shephard. Everybody’s got a healthy crush on Ben – that’s no secret! And nobody has to whisper about their crush on Ben like they have to whisper about their crush on Matt Hancock.”

The star is referring to a newspaper journalist who recently confessed to harbouring a crush on the former health secretary-turned I’m A Celebrity star.

“Apparently people do [fancy Hancock] but that’s for them,” says Susanna, making her position clear.

She is equally complimentary about her female co-stars – Kate Garraway, Ranvir Singh, Charlotte Hawkins and Laura Tobin.

“I love those women – they’re warm, intelligent, compassionate and interesting. We’re very supportive and have great fun,” she says. “We do events outside of work, like Pride of Britain, which is sometimes the only chance I get to see Kate, who is dedicated to looking after Derek and her family.

“And it’s always fun to be sat on a table where Laura Tobin is having a drink. If there’s one person who knows how to enjoy an out-of-work event, it’s Laura!”

Susanna stopped drinking alcohol four years ago and doesn’t miss it.

“I stopped enjoying it,” she says. “I prefer life completely alcohol-free – it’s tiring and the hangxiety got to me. I don’t feel like I can plough on after pints of Guinness the night before. Spending time with the kids is my release.”

She may be off the booze, but like many of us over the past few years, there’s been some comfort eating. “During lockdown I put on a stone,” she says. “Unrestricted access to the bread bin was my downfall and not doing enough exercise, so I’m back on the Peloton bike and trying to cut out snacking again.”

While Susanna is happy to talk about her professional relationships, she is fiercely private when it comes to her personal life. Her most recent partner was Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish, while she maintains an excellent co-parenting relationship with her ex-partner, journalist Dominic Cotton, who she was with for 16 years before their split in 2014.

When asked if she gets tired of the scrutiny that surrounds women in the public eye, she says, “I think it’s up to women what they divulge, isn’t it? It's up to each individual to decide what they share."

Susanna, who turns 52 in December, says she “lives in the moment” and admits she’s yet to make any party or Christmas plans.

“I never look ahead. I just hope I’m doing this forever because I love live television,” she says. “There is never a night before work when I feel fearful. I spend Sundays prepping for the show. Sleep is the only time I switch off.”

One person she credits with helping launch her career is the late Bill Turnbull, her former BBC Breakfast co-host who she lovingly nicknamed Dr Doolitle. The much-loved presenter passed away in August, aged 66, following a battle with prostate cancer.

“I still can’t believe he’s gone,” she says. “He taught me everything I know about journalism. He was a clever, kind and funny man. He was also a massive animal lover. When we worked together in Salford I took my children to his farm. My middle son was petrified of animals, but completely got over his fear, thanks to Bill. I called him Dr Doolitle – he was the animal whisperer.”

This week, Susanna has joined her colleagues Kate and Ben to launch a project close to her heart – Good Morning Britain’s award-winning 1 Million Minutes campaign. Now in its seventh year, it encourages viewers to pledge their time to charities and connect with those that feel alone or isolated. To date, people have donated over 404 million minutes to the campaign.

“It’s terrible to feel loneliness, particularly at Christmas,” says Susanna. “This campaign encourages people to volunteer their time to make sure somebody isn’t lonely. We are also going to be in your living rooms on Christmas Day and it’s our great honour. TV is sometimes the only thing people have and I take that very seriously. I’m glad we can be company for people who are not able to be with their families.”

Watch 1 Million Minutes every weekday in December on Good Morning from 6am on ITV1 & ITV Hub


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