Retired couple June and Leon Bernicoff captured the hearts of the nation during their time on Gogglebox, but after Leon passed away in December 2017 June decided to leave the show to deal with her loss. In a recent interview with the Mirror, June Bernicoff opened up about her late husband, how she's dealt with the loss, and her appreciation towards Gogglebox viewers and her local community for their unwavering support.
"I don't watch much TV these days, if I'm honest. I find it difficult," she told the newspaper. "I've been reading a lot more, or listening to the radio, but I just feel restless whenever I sit down and watch it. I find myself getting up to make a lot of cups of tea and I can't settle." After being approached by casting agents from Channel 4 at his local bridge club, Leon excitedly told June of the opportunity to be part of the show, and the couple accepted.
Up until his passing, Leon and June were on Gogglebox for twelve seasons where viewers fell in love with their affection for one another and their fantastic banter. June still has people come up to her when she's out and about quoting her late husband. On top of that, June spoke of how supportive the public have been since her loss and that she has found immense comfort from people across the country and locally in Liverpool.
"People just keep stopping me and giving me a squeeze to tell me they're sorry about losing Leon. He was so well-liked and so kind-hearted — there isn't a Big Issue seller in the city who didn't know him."
Channel 4 also supported June, issuing a fitting tribute to the late Leon, one which moved June to tears. "I looked over to his chair, and when I saw it, that was the first time I really, really cried after he died," she said.
"It was the start of my grieving process, funny as that sounds. People kept expecting me to burst into tears in the supermarket, but grief is very private. I remember switching off the TV and thinking, 'Those cameras will never be there again.'"
June and Leon had been together for 57 years, meeting in 1955 when they were studying at teacher training college as BBC reports. They went on to have two daughters and welcomed three grandchildren into their family as the Mirror reports. While June has found it challenging to deal with Leon's absence, as the Mirror aptly describes she has dealt with her grief "stoically".
"I miss Leon's company and his voice in the house, and the way he made me laugh. But he always said that if he passed away before me, I had to stay positive and keep going. I remembered that, and that is what I have done."
And she certainly has. Nearly a year after Leon died, June published a memoir that looked back on their time together, which also gave her the opportunity to keep her mind occupied. "Fortunately I've been very busy because of course I was approached to write the book and that's been wonderful, it's given me purpose," she told This Morning presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford in September 2018.
"I think at first it was just the sadness, whereas [writing allowed me to go] back to when we met and all the fun we had — we were 18, 21, we were students, we didn't have a care in the world."