GMB’s Ben Shephard praises ‘superhero’ pal Kate Garraway amid Derek’s Covid battle

Ben Shephard is a busy man. When he’s not filling us in on the day’s latest stories on Good Morning Britain, he can be found presenting hit ITV game shows Tipping Point and Ninja Warrior UK: Race For Glory.

And if he’s not doing those, he’s hosting the podcast Proper Football, alongside his Ninja Warrior UK co-host and soccer legend Chris Kamara.

“I don’t know how I fit it all in,” he laughs. “I think I’m so worried I’m going to get found out and have to get a proper job one day, I just keep saying ‘yes’ to stuff!”

And as if the 47-year-old – who is also a dad-of-two – didn’t have enough on his plate, he has decided to add another string to his bow.

Ben’s latest venture is very much a passion project – he has published Humble Heroes, a book about hope and humanity which records acts of everyday heroism that have inspired him.

“It was an idea born out of a reaction to what was happening during the pandemic,” explains Ben.

“The news was pretty bleak and very worrying but at the same time I knew there were lots of people doing incredible things and it was happening in my community, too.

“I just felt like we needed a bit more of that, so I put out some calls on social media for people to nominate their local heroes.”

The presenter says he was overwhelmed with the response and knew he had to use his platform to “shine a light” on these stories and say thank you.

“Because there were so many stories, the bigger idea came to write a book,” he explains.

“These are people who aren’t doing things for any recognition or any need to raise their profile, they’re doing it because they want to help and it makes them feel good, so by their very nature they are humble.”

The stories include that of Carrie Byrom, who runs Stable Lives, a charity where people work with animals to help heal trauma. There’s also Redemption Roasters, the world’s first prison-based coffee roaster.

“Hopefully, people will read the book and it will inspire them to go out and do some form of volunteering,” says Ben.

“It was really moving to go back over all the stories and rewarding. Ultimately, I hope the book will recharge people with joy.”

As well as the heroes in the book, someone else who has inspired Ben is his GMB co-host, Kate Garraway.

“She would absolutely be my Humble Hero,” Ben says of Kate, who has been caring for her seriously ill husband, Derek Draper, since he was hospitalised with Covid in March 2020.

“She is a superhero. What she’s managing to do and how she’s managing to hold the family together, and do everything she can to help Derek and her children, is incredible.

“We share texts quite regularly and she’ll tell me about the crazy things that are going on in her life.

"Darcey [her 16-year-old daughter] has just done her GCSEs and how Kate’s holding down a job and keeping the family afloat is miraculous.

“I genuinely don’t know how she does it and still maintains this extraordinary positivity. She is a beacon of hope for so many people in so many ways and I know how hard she is having to work just to stay on top of everything that is going on.”

Ben still gets a buzz from broadcasting live on GMB, where he has been a fixture since 2014, and jokes that working with Kate, 55, can be unpredictable.

“There is nothing like it,” he says. “It’s a real adrenaline rush doing that show, especially as I’m working with Kate, because you never know what she’s going to say!”

But he admits you won’t find sons Sam, 17, and Jack, 14, who he has with his wife of 18 years Annie, tuning in to watch him in the mornings.

“They’re pretty nonplussed by it,” says Ben. “Now they’re on TikTok, occasionally they’ll send me memes of things that have happened on Tipping Point, so if they are going to watch anything, it’s via TikTok! They think those memes are hilarious and they love that.”

However, that doesn’t mean the star is immune to the “embarrassing dad” tag.

“We went to Boardmasters [the music festival in Cornwall] in the summer and as Jack’s a bit young, we had to go, too,” he says.

“That was interesting as they’re teenagers and they don’t want their parents around them. When I was being recognised it was like, ‘Dad, get lost! This is really cramping our style.’

“They will watch a bit of Ninja Warrior UK and Sam marvels at the fitness. They loved coming to the set when they were younger but they have very busy lives as teenagers now.

If I did a programme on TikTok they might be interested – if it was edited into 30-second clips they could flick through!”

The one show Ben says he doesn’t think his sons will ever see him on is I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!.

“The best contestants are the ones who are really struggling and scared of everything, and I think I’d be really boring as I’d really enjoy it,” he explains.

“I was talking to the exec of I’m A Celebrity recently and saying I’d love it but I’d be rubbish because they’d say, ‘We want you to go and do this or eat this,’ and I’d say, ‘OK’.

"I would probably just sit there marvelling at being in nature and loving the whole thing, rather than being interesting to watch.”

As for Strictly Come Dancing, Ben says “never say never” to taking part in the BBC One celebrity dance contest.

“I’ve been asked a few times and I haven’t been able to do it, and my knee has been a bit of a hindrance,” he says. “But there are certain members of my family that aren’t keen for me to do it.

“Annie has been quite outspoken about it. She would prefer we enjoy it by watching it on the sofa, rather than her watching me do it. I think it’s a comment on how poor my dancing is!”

Seeing as Ben’s Ninja Warrior UK co-star Rochelle Humes recently renewed her wedding vows with husband Marvin in a stunning ceremony at Lake Como to celebrate their 10th anniversary, we can’t help wondering if Ben has ever considered doing the same with Annie, who he married in 2004 at the Burgh Island Hotel in Devon.

“How beautiful was that service?” says Ben of Rochelle and Marvin’s special day. “The kids were impossibly gorgeous and Blake [their one-year-old son] looked amazing. They’re just an impossibly gorgeous and romantic couple, those two.

“But no, we haven‘t [planned to renew our vows], and I think the reason is she might say ‘no’ next time! I don’t want to take that risk.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” he adds with a laugh. “If we started doing something like that, she might start thinking, ‘There’s another option here, I could run for the hills!’

“But I think we’ll do something nice for our 20th anniversary. We had a lovely 10th anniversary and went on the Orient Express, so I’m sure there will be something in the pipeline.

"She just needs to factor in my work. The hardest thing is that she and the boys have to put up with an awful lot of me going away, so it’s not easy being married to me!”

Humble Heroes (Blink publishing) is out now in hardback, audiobook and eBook


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