MOST of us can’t even look at the person we pulled at the office Christmas party the next day.
But not TV presenters Vernon Kay and Tess Daly.
The couple first hit it off at the BBC’s annual festive shindig in 1999, bonding over the fact they were both Northerners – Vernon, 47, is a Bolton boy and Tess, 52, hails from Stockport.
Smitten, the pair started dating and tied the knot in 2003.
They now have two children, Phoebe, 17, and Amber, 12.
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Vernon recently revealed: “She didn’t know anyone except me because we’d worked together that day – she spotted me in a crowd and we had a laugh.''
“I was instantly attracted by how independent Tess was, and that’s not changed at all.”
A source close to the couple said: “Tess and Vern are that rare thing in showbiz – a partnership that feeds off each other’s success rather than be jealous of them – and that’s one reason why their relationship has lasted two decades and counting.”
The early days
But it wasn’t just their Northern roots that meant they had a lot in common – both Tess and Vern had similar routes into showbiz, starting off on the catwalk before trying to make it in TV.
When they met, both were in the early stages of their TV careers.
They were making their way up the “yoof TV” ladder, enjoying a party lifestyle and living the London dream.
Vern was presenting T4 on C4, while Tess hosted the Find Me a Model slot on The Big Breakfast.
Tess says of that time: “It was all quite immediate, really, because we instantly had such a blast together.''
“I couldn't imagine having more fun with anyone else. It was pretty explosive.”
Our source said: “The only real difference between them was that Tess was five years older – but being at similar places in their careers meant the age gap didn’t really matter. ''
“They both realised the other one had a similar lust for life and a determination to grab whatever opportunities came along, job-wise.”
Tying the knot
Tess revealed in an interview last year that “Christmas is Vernon’s favourite time of year” – so it’s no surprise he decided to pop the question on 25 December 2002.
When he joined the I’m A Celebrity castle last November, Vern told his I’m A Celebrity campmates all about his romantic proposal, saying: “On Christmas Day it was, it was the last present under the tree.''
“While she was so consumed by the ring, I was on one knee.''
“It was awesome.”
On September 12 2003, the showbiz couple tied the knot at St Mary’s Church in Horwich, near where Vernon grew up.
Naturally, the bride wore white – but so did the groom, too!
Celeb guests included Celebrity Big Brother winner Brian Dowling, and Vernon’s T4 pal June Sarpong.
Despite dominating our TV screens for the past 20 years, TV’s most glamorous couple have rarely presented a show together.
That changed in 2007, when they teamed up to front Just the Two of Us, a celebrity singing show.
Tess recently posted a throwback snap of the pair from the time, writing on her Instagram: “What a giggle that was (plus I love that you’ve now got pretty much the same hairdo Vern!)”
However, when Vern was recently asked in an interview if he’d consider taking part in Strictly Come Dancing, he joked that it would be “awkward” if he came off stage and Tess asked him if he’d turned the iron off!
Home is where the heart is
There’s no doubt that after 20 years, the pair have fully embraced parenting duties and the domestic side of life – especially during lockdown.
He revealed the pandemic gave him: “The chance to really kind of re-connect and get to know each other, not better, but you really get under the skin of your relationship with your kids and your missus.”
In a recent podcast, Vernon revealed: “I did everything – repainted the gutters, realigned the gutters, jet-washed.''
“Tess even replastered a part of our conservatory, she learnt how to do it on YouTube, that’s how we filled our time.''
“Then we’d get to: ‘Let’s have a drink!’ Why not?”
But after enjoying all that family time together with their kids, the couple were then separated later on in the year when Vern entered the I’m A Celeb castle.
Our source told Fabulous: “Tess found it really hard when Vern went in – it was a separation which certainly made them stronger.''
“They lead busy lives, but always find time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.''
“It brought home to her how much she loves having him around – she might joke it was just to fix things, but she missed their walks near their house in Beaconsfield, Sunday roasts and cosy evenings on the sofa.”
The Strictly presenter later admitted: “I was like, ‘Okay, Vern, I really do need you around the house’… We’re soulmates, me and Vernon.''
“It’s been a ride. And I love him more than ever.”
Tess wears the trousers
Recently, Vern admitted that, growing up, his mum “ruled the roost with a firm, hearty Roman Catholic hand” – and there’s no doubt Tess does the same at home.
She even once described him as an “overgrown toddler”.
Our source said: “Tess would be the first to admit that Vernon is a big, cuddly softy who wears his heart on his sleeve.''
“Yes, he made mistakes in the past but their marriage worked too well for them to let it go.''
“It’s rock solid, and they still fancy each other.''
“It helps of course that they are both ageing like fine wine!''
“Now, they are both fully focused on the future.''
“After the uncertainty of last year, 2020 ended on a high note for them with Strictly back on our screens and Vern doing well in I’m A Celeb.''
“Then he was rewarded with his own primetime TV show, Game of Talents.''
“Things couldn’t be better for them right now.”
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