TELLY legend Judy Finnigan was inspired to return to This Morning after watching Back To The Future, she has revealed.
The 71-year-old was interviewed on the famous sofa last month with husband Richard Madeley, 63, to promote their book club.
But after the couple took it in turns reading the autocue and links, fans of the show started an online appeal to get them back.
Now, 18 years after they last hosted This Morning, the couple will present a one-off special next month.
And the Sun on Sunday can reveal the pair are also being lined-up for a regular one-day-a-week slot in spring next year.
Judy — who had vowed NEVER to return to presenting on TV — said: “It never crossed my mind to come back and present an edition of This Morning, basically I’ve left TV behind me.
“But it was surprisingly good fun to do a couple of links to camera last month and when the show’s editor asked if we’d come back and front a whole show, I just kind of mentally shrugged and thought ‘what the hell’ — a bit like the Doc in Back To The Future.
“I think it’ll be huge fun, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The plans for the couple’s return come in the wake of falling viewing figures following the axing of the Jeremy Kyle show.
A studio insider added: “Viewing figures are down over 230,000 in the past couple of months. It’s the Jeremy Kyle effect. It’s hurt all of daytime hard, particularly
This Morning, so meetings have been held discussing what to do to reverse the trend.
“Richard and Judy’s appearance went down a storm with fans, and viewers went on social media in droves to request they return full time.
“Obviously Judy has no desire for a second career as she’s now a successful author. The hope is she will enjoy this appearance in October, and gradually be persuaded to fill-in for Holly [Willoughby], Phillip [Schofield] and Eamonn [Holmes] and Ruth [Langsford] when they’re on holiday or off.
“Richard and Judy have a natural chemistry the like of which is nigh-on impossible to replicate.”
The couple launched This Morning in 1988, hosted it for 13 years and were famed for their hilarious on-air bickers and ad-lib jokes.
During last month’s interview of the couple by co-hosts Rochelle Humes, 30, and Mollie King, 32, it emerged that Richard and Judy first settled on the This Morning sofa a year before The Saturdays singer Rochelle was born.
They quit the popular magazine show in 2001 and were poached by Channel 4 to front their own eponymous afternoon series.
Judy’s last television job was in October 2014, when she was introduced as a regular panellist on Loose Women.
WE’RE DOING IT FOR A LAUGH
On Saturday night Richard added: “It was great fun doing This Morning together recently — we both got a real kick out of it and enjoyed taking the p*** out of each other again, just like we used to.
“At the moment it’s just the one episode. We are going back with no agenda other than, ‘Oh f*** it’, it’ll be fun. We are doing it for a laugh.
“But of course, the sensible thing to say is that if we enjoy it, and they were to ask us to do another, then obviously we would.”
It was in 2001 that Judy vowed never to return to presenting, saying: “I wouldn’t remotely want to do television again.” She decided to leave Loose Women partly to focus on her writing career, but also in the wake of getting nasty comments from vicious trolls online.
This time around the pair — who have been married for 33 years — have agreed not to check social media after their special appearance on Friday, October 25.
Richard adds: “Judy has a thinner skin than me but will do what I’ve learnt the hard way actually — and that’s don’t go on Twitter and see what people are saying.
“There’s just no point, it will only affect your mood, and the best thing to do is, frankly, ignore it.
“What’s really changed is the impact of social media — particularly Twitter.
“It’s right up there on everyone’s agenda now, whereas back in the day our main feedback was through the telephone switchboard, or we might have received a few letters. And, of course, the Press.
“Now though the instant response of social media is phenomenal, and what it means is that it does make you pause for a few milliseconds before you say almost anything. It makes you second guess whether you’re going to say anything potentially problematic.
“That’s the big difference, the instant feedback, and the hostility.
“I mean, I could run out into the street to rescue a child from a runaway horse and I’d be accused of animal cruelty. You can’t win.”