Portadown-born Gloria Hunniford is tonight (Friday) the special guest of Piers Morgan on his ‘Life Stories’ series (ITV 9pm).
Gloria (73) will trace her life from her days in Portadown where it all started – she lived at 94 Armagh Road, her parents being Charles and May Hunniford, and attended Portadown College.
‘Life Stories’ recalls her ‘Taste of Hunni’ programme on BBC Radio Ulster and travels on via UTV to her big break as stand-in presenter of BBC Radio 2’s ‘Jimmy Young Show’ which catapulted her on the road to fame.
Gloria told the Portadown Times from her holiday home in Cornwall, “Piers was really taken by the fact that, during my days at Radio Ulster, there was a bomb scare at Belfast’s Broadcasting House in the middle of a live show, and just myself, the sound engineer and the producer chose to stay put.
“The bomb went off and the building shook, but we reckoned it was safer to stay in an isolated soundproof studio that to chance it outside! Broadcasting House is a sturdy, stone building and we made the right decision.”
She tells Morgan of the heartache of the death of daughter Caron Keating who succumbed to breast cancer in April 2004 at the age of 41 – Gloria set up her special charity in Caron’s memory (The Caron Keating Foundation) and wrote the poignant book ‘Close to You’.
“Naturally, there were tears during that part of the show,” she added. “But that’s Piers Morgan – he has the knack of extracting the most personal of details with his gentle technique.”
Her meteoric rise to fame included interviews with megastars like Bette Davis, Doris Day, Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn, and even though she is now a septuagenarian, she is busy as ever, presenting ‘Rip Off Britain’ with Angela Rippon and Julia Somerville on BBC 1 morning television.
The Portadown Times helped with the research into tonight’s show, supplying ITV with pictures and information of Gloria’s early life. She said, “I have no idea how the show will turn out. We chatted for well over two hours. It’s edited down to an hour – minus the commercial breaks – but I’m looking forward to seeing it.”