THEIR time as breakfast telly co-stars came to an end when Piers Morgan sensationally quit Good Morning Britain after clashing with ITV bosses over his views on Meghan Markle.
But nearly a year on from the fallout at ITV, Dr Hilary Jones, 68, and Piers, 56, are still great mates and will be for years to come, according to Hilary.
In an exclusive chat with HOAR, he said: “He and I have become good mates, and we’re able to exchange messages now and again, we kept in touch and sent greetings cards over Christmas. So no doubt the man who gave me my first job in journalism many many years ago will stay good mates with me.”
Piers and Hilary knew each other long before the former joined GMB in 2015. The former newspaper editor gave Hilary a weekly column when he headed the News of the World in the mid 90s, which the doctor kept up until 2011.
They both received praise for their work during the pandemic; one for keeping the nation up to speed with the latest medical Covid developments, and the other for holding the government to account.
Last year Hilary was made an MBE for his work, while recently Piers joked about missing out on becoming a Sir in the latest Queen’s Honours list.
Does Hilary harbour ambitions of becoming a knight of the realm too?
He said: “Sir Hilary has a lovely ring to it – it sounds like something from When We Were Six by the guy who did Winnie the Pooh.
“I was very flattered to be given an MBE last year for services to medical broadcasting and to medicine and charity.
“Of course Kate Garraway’s got her gong, and she thoroughly deserves that, but no, I don’t think a Knighthood is in the offing, but it’s nice to be recognised for what I’ve done.”
Hilary said he has relished the challenge of putting across important health messages on live TV each day during the pandemic, and for the most part has received a positive response.
He has been targeted by anti-vaxxers too, but the small amount of abuse he has received hasn’t deterred him from doing his job.
He said: “You’re always going to get a few people who aren’t in favour of what you say but by and large the message I have are all very favourable.
“Of course you’ll get detractors, but nothing’s mandatory so people can make their own choices. My view is to give my comments according to what scientifically I think is a responsible way forward.”
Hilary is currently supporting the Department of Health & Social Care’s new ‘Better Health’ campaign.
The aim is to get the nation moving more and eating healthier after research found 63 per cent of the nation is overweight.
By losing as little as five percent of their bodyweigh, those people could see big health benefits including reducing the risk of some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
And the NHS would benefit too given 10 per cent of its budget is spent on treating people with diabetes.
Hilary said he would much rather people cut their weight naturally by doing exercise and eating healthily than by turning to gastric surgery.
“It saddens me that it gets so much publicity from celebrities,” said Hilary. “I’d much rather people avoided getting to that situation in the first place because it’s major surgery, it has complications. You’re never going to be able to eat normally ever again if you go down that route and there is a small mortality involved.
“By the time you’ve got to that place you’ve probably already got type 2 diabetes, you’ve probably got aching joints and you’ve got excess skin, so there are lots of problems even after the surgery.
“Before people get to that point, have a think about it. If you’re letting your belt out there’s a reason for that. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, you’ve got less energy and feel tired all the time could it be something to do with your weight.
“I think starting in school at childhood level is important, teaching children what healthy nutrition is about, the benefits and joys of physical activity and continuing that trend through adulthood.”
Dr Hilary Jones is supporting Better Health, which has lots of free tips and tools to help people get started if they want to lose weight, eat better or get active. Search ‘Better Health’ or visit nhs.uk/BetterHealth to start leading a healthier lifestyle today.