Eamonn Holmes surprises Gloria Hunniford as she celebrates 70 years in show business

Eamonn Holmes surprises Gloria Hunniford as she celebrates 70 years in show business

BROADCASTER Gloria Hunniford celebrated 70 years in show business this week with a This is Your Life surprise from long-time friend Eamonn Holmes. 

Ms Hunniford, 77, was surprised by Holmes and fellow Loose Women panellists Ruth Langsford, Colleen Nolan and Nadia Swalha, with the feature looking back on her career on the ITV show.

Since the beginning of her career in the 1970s, Gloria Hunniford worked in Northern Ireland on Good Evening Ulster and Sunday, Sunday, before going to London to work on We Love TV and Open House with Gloria Hunniford.

Gloria Hunniford, above in a special video showing the span of her career, begun working life as a reporter in Belfast. (Picture: ITV)

More recently, she has worked on Loose Women, This Morning, Rip Off Britain, Home Away from Home and Food: Truth or Scare.

Ms Hunniford, originally from Portadown in Co. Armagh, began her career aged seven as a singer alongside her father who worked in advertising but also performed as a magician.

Speaking on the programme, about her passion for singing from early on, Ms Hunniford said: "I would sing into a baker light radio from about three years old, working on the assumption that if I could hear them, one day they would hear me and say, 'You! Singing Buttons and Bows, we want you!' so I started doing concerts."

Gloria and Eamonn in the early days of their friendship. (Picture: ITV)

Paying tribute to Ms Hunniford, Eamonn Holmes recounted the very first days of their friendship 37 years ago.

"I was 19 when I met Gloria first, she hosted a programme in Northern Ireland called Good Evening Ulster.

"She's just amazing, a complete tour de force," he said.

"This woman is a phenomenon on television and to this day, I respect and learn from you and you're one of my broadcasting heroes."

To which Hunniford joked: "Eamonn's glad I went to London, because when I went he got my job."

Ms Hunniford, who was the first female broadcaster on Radio 2 at the age of 42 in 1982, had not only 'flown the flag' for women in broadcasting, but also for Northern Ireland, Holmes added.

Close friend Cliff Richard also sent a video message for 'Glo', saying: "I cannot believe you're celebrating 70 years in showbiz - that's longer than I have!

"Congratulations darling, may there be at least 70 more years to come," he said.

"We're looking forward to it."

A short video on Gloria Hunniford's career showed her early days as a reporter in Belfast, to becoming a panellist on the popular chat show.

A personal film and photos of Ms Hunniford and her daughter Caron before she died after a battle with breast cancer in 2004 was also shown.

Gloria and her daughter Caron, as shown here in a short video on Ms Hunniford's career. (Picture: ITV)

Speaking previously of her daughter's death, Gloria said: "I'll never get over losing Caron.

"It's impossible to get over the death of your child because it leaves such a big hole.

"You live around the big black hole and learn to cope.

"Ultimately, you have to pull yourself together for the rest of your family."

Gloria Hunniford has flown the flag for Northern Ireland as well as for women in broadcasting, Eamonn Holmes said. (Picture: ITV)

Finishing off the segment celebrating her career, Gloria Hunniford said she still had a 'zest' for work.

"You wouldn't be still in it at this stage if you didn't have a zest for it," she said.

"Eamonn will tell you about the Northern Ireland work ethic, and I've always worked since I was seven."

Watch Eamonn Holmes surprising Gloria Hunniford in this short clip below...