Susanna Reid says Piers Morgan is wrong as she declares she’s still single

Susanna Reid spends a good chunk of her mornings eye-rolling and batting away Piers Morgan’s merciless teasing.

Not long ago he outed her as single live on their Good Morning Britain show, catching Susanna off-guard and off-script until she told the nation her ten-month romance with Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish was over.

More recently, Piers cheekily hinted her “perky and happy face” meant she had someone new. So has she?

“I’m single,” says Susanna. “The irony of that was I’d gone to bed at 7.30pm the night before and had a really good night’s sleep. It was so ridiculous.

“But that’s Piers all over isn’t it? He infers that if you’re in a good mood there must be a reason for it. For me to be in a really good mood it means I’ve had a solid night’s sleep and come in feeling fresh and bouncy.”

Susanna deals with daily ribbings, interruptions and arguments from Piers like a swotty sister coping with an hilariously bratty brother. And in much the same way, a strong bond lies beneath.

“Piers is a complete wind up and a total pain in the backside. He constantly teases me and says I protest too much when people joke that we’re an old married couple.

“When we first started working together, we took a while to get the measure of each other and I took some of his teasing too personally. Over the last four years I’ve developed a much thicker skin.

“At the same time I also trust Piers with lots of secrets and personal stuff and I know that’s not going to appear on air. It’s just banter – as they’d say on Love Island.”

The 48-year-old might be slightly reluctant to say it, not because she’s big-headed but because Piers will love it, but she’s also learned on the job from him.

Not that she needs schooled in being a highly skilled broadcaster, but perhaps he gave her a bit of a nudge to express more of herself.

“Piers has taught me a lot. He trained the BBC neutrality out of me. There are still times when I think, ‘I shouldn’t say this’ but I’m more able to have an opinion about something. Whereas Piers will blunder in, say whatever the heck he likes and damn the consequences. And I kind of admire that.”

At this weekend’s Soccer Aid the rivalry between Susanna and Piers will peak. She is co-managing the England team with Sam Allardyce which will face the World XI headed by Piers and Harry Redknapp.

Forget the past successes of her 20-year TV broadcasting career, which include being a runner up in 2013’s Strictly Come Dancing final and headhunted from BBC Breakfast for a reported £1million salary. Because Susanna reckons pummelling Piers on the pitch will top any achievement.

“Beating Piers at Soccer Aid will be my life’s greatest work,” she says. “Can you imagine the gloating rights? They will go on for weeks on end if Piers wins.”

Susanna, who has three sons Sam, 17, Finn, 15, and Jack, 14, with her former partner Dominic Cotton, has grown used to gruelling work hours. When the BBC moved to Salford in 2012, she travelled by there by train every evening from her South London home and was back again in time for tea and the after-school homework regime.

Despite the 4am starts, she says she “completely loves” working on GMB and will continue to do so “for as long as the nation is happy waking up with me”.

Recently she stepped away from her glam studio role to front crime documentaries for ITV and this week takes on her grittiest yet.

In Death Row: Countdown to Execution, Susanna travels to one of the bleakest places in the America: Huntsville in Texas, home of the most active death chamber in the US.

Watching her come face-to-face with death row inmates as their lethal injection date looms is as chilling as it is gripping.

“It’s a totally different side of me,” says Susanna. “I love the opportunity to do other completely different things.

“And I think there’s an extraordinary privilege to be given the last interview that two men, two condemned men, before they face execution.

“One man, Patrick Murphy, is being punished for the murder of a police officer. And Billie Wayne Coble slaughtered three members of his estranged wife’s family.

“Of course people condemn these men for committing the worst possible crime. But I’m a human being and I feel compassion for anybody, everybody. And while I condemn what they’re guilty of doing, I can’t help wondering, ‘what is it like knowing you’re going to die, knowing the date, time, means of your death?’.”

As soon as she set foot in the Polanski Unit maximum security prison, Susanna’s personal property was removed, she was “properly patted down” which even included having her bra checked, and other prisoners leered at her as she walked by their tiny cells.

“It’s an intimidating environment, without a doubt. Prisoners are held there until the day of their execution so it’s a forbidden place.

“Death row prisoners are kept in single cells five metres square, 23 hours a day, and the only human contact they get is when officers put on or remove their shackles. Their one hour recreation time is done on their own in a cage.

“And it’s a very strange, challenging and surreal experience looking into the eyes of a man who’s killed three people and is about to die himself.”

Susanna reveals some truths behind the mythology of death row, such as the fact prisoners are no longer granted last meal requests.

“I didn’t know until I was over there that you can no longer request a last meal. Back in 2011, a death row prisoner ordered such extensive, exorbitant last meal that the state of Texas said, ‘this isn’t reasonable – someone’s taking the mickey here’. It was banned for every prisoner after that. “Now your last meal is simply what’s on the menu for the general prison population is having.”

As well as meeting victims’ families, Susanna also hears how prisoners’ families also suffer.

She says: “I hope it still comes across that the obvious sympathies are always and deservedly for the families. For them the death penalty is closure. But there are unexpected victims – families of the condemned men who are innocent.

“Billie Wayne Coble’s son says, ‘why are we punishing murder with another murder?’ You can feel the grief in his interview. During the execution he lost it – he lost control of himself. In that moment he’s a son witnessing the death of his father. It’s a very human story.”

Susanna was relieved not to have been invited in to the death chamber to watch the moment a lethal injection ended a life. And she is not afraid to share her opinion on capital punishment.

“I am anti death penalty but I know millions of people back it. It’s fascinating to look into these two cases and ask if it’s legitimate or right – especially as it costs three times as much as keeping a man in prison for 40 years.

“There are definitely moments, stories and interviews that make me feel emotional – it’s only human to show that because the audience will be feeling the same thing. So for many reasons and conflicting emotions, the death row interviews will always stay with me.”

Death Row: Countdown to Execution, start of ITV at 9pm on Thursday.

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