Celebrity Families

EXCLUSIVE: Ben Fordham reveals why he's done listening to critics and how his wife is his "rock-solid supporter"

''I’ve just had to deal with it.''

By Helen Vnuk
Having Ben Fordham as a dad has its advantages. Great seats to watch the recording of Australian Ninja Warrior, for one thing.
But when Ben brought four-year-old Pearl along with him earlier this year, she didn't react to the Ninjas the way he was expecting.
"She started crying," Ben tells TV WEEK.
"It was because she was scared about them falling from great heights down into the water. I was trying to explain to her, 'No, these people want to do this.'"
"But I've just got a really soft-hearted daughter who doesn't like to see anyone being put in any degree of danger or agony. Meanwhile, my six-year-old son Freddy was laughing every time they fell in the water."
Ben's back at the hosting helm of Ninja Warrior. Nine
Being so close to the action might have been a little too much for Pearl, but this is a family that loves Ninja Warrior.
Marigold, Ben's youngest child with journalist wife Jodie Speers, is not yet two, but is already tackling the homemade warped wall in the living room.
"Goldie says 'Warped wall!' to me all the time," Ben, 44, says. "They're right into it."
This is the fifth year Ben has hosted the show, and it's been a huge commitment.
He and Jodie were already both getting up by 3am every day – Ben to do the breakfast shift on radio station 2GB and Jodie to read Channel Seven's Early News.
For the days Ninja Warrior was filming at Sydney Olympic Park, Ben also worked from 7pm to 3am.
"I think I had a bed in my dressing room, a bed at the hotel at Homebush, a bed in my office at [radio station] 2GB and a bed at home," he says. "I thought, 'I'll just sleep wherever I get an opportunity to.'"
Tickets to Ninja Warrior put dad, pictured with wife Jodie and kids Freddy, Pearl and Goldie, in the good books. Alana Landsberry
With two high-pressure careers and three kids, Ben says it takes "lots of teamwork and also lots of understanding" to make it work.
"We've just got to help each other out," he says. "Thankfully, we've got some very keen grandparents on the scene as well. We feel very lucky."
He says Jodie is "such a rock-solid supporter and right-hand woman".
"She's just amazing," he enthuses.
No matter how busy their lives, Ben and Jodie, who married in 2011, make sure to set aside some couple time. Dinner dates are out because of their work hours, but they can still have lunch.
"We can duck out for a few hours and feel normal for a little while," Ben says.
Jodie is Ben's "rock-solid supporter." Alana Landsberry
He also sets aside time to work out, but only twice a week. Three years ago, he was inspired by Ninja Warrior to get fitter, and his weight dropped from 97kg to 82kg. Now, he's 87kg and happy with that.
"I got to a point where I had people starting to say weird comments like, 'Mate, you don't look well,'" he remembers.
"I realised whatever I was doing, I was being a little too crazy about it. So I've become a bit more relaxed about it, but still committed to training and trying to do the right things and not drink as much wine as I'd like to."
Ben got his first job in journalism when he was just 15, working at a radio station on weekends. After three decades in the media, he's respectful of freedom of speech – both his and other people's.
"I get to do it on my show every morning, or on television I get to say what I want to say, so I'm entirely comfortable with people saying whatever they want to say about me, or any show I'm on, on social media," he explains.
"As hard as it is to believe, not everyone is a fan of me 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's hard for me to accept, but I've just had to deal with it."

As for Ben's work ethic, that comes from his dad, celebrity agent John Fordham. John died in November 2019 and Ben says he thinks of him often.
"I've got a big photo of him behind my desk here at home, and so I see that every morning when I wake up at three o'clock and get ready to go into battle."
There's another way Ben keeps his father's presence in his life – by wearing his socks. After his father died, his mother Veronica asked him if there was anything of his dad's that he wanted.
"I grabbed a few sentimental things and then I was like, 'S**t, my dad owned a lot of socks,'" he remembers. "So his sock collection joined my sock collection.
"So he's with me all the time, whether it's in my heart or in my head or wearing them on my feet."
Ben was upfront and honest with Freddy and Pearl when it came to his father's death. Alana Landsberry
Ben was upfront and honest with Freddy and Pearl when it came to his father's death, and he says they were "very supportive" of him. It also gave them an interest in the topic of death.
"Pearl wants a rainbow-coloured coffin, which I've promised her she can get one day – hopefully, not too soon. Freddy has asked whether you can have glow-in-the-dark coffins, and I said, 'Mate, you can have whatever you want.'"
These kinds of interesting questions are one of the many things Ben loves about fatherhood, along with just "sitting around, giggling, tickling, wrestling".
"I've been blessed with three beautiful little kids who'll have their own personalities," he says. "I'm loving having a front-row seat to see how they grow up."
WATCH BELOW: Ben Fordham welcomes baby girl

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