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Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos Usher in New Era of ‘Live’ on 1st Episode Since Ryan Seacrest’s Exit: ‘The Future Starts Now’

No backing out! Mark Consuelos made his official debut as wife Kelly Ripa‘s cohost on Monday, April 17 — with a few special guests in the audience.

The couple took their seats side by side on the Live With Kelly and Mark set for the first time since Ryan Seacrest‘s exit, with an announcer declaring, “The future starts now,” at the top of the episode. Ripa, 52, went on to introduce her husband, also 52, joking that Consuelos would be “joining me today and permanently until one of us dies.”

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The Riverdale actor made a reference to his and Ripa’s All My Children characters, teasing, “Hayley and Mateo forever.”

Ripa and Consuelos played Hayley Vaughan and Mateo Santos, respectively, on the ABC soap opera that sparked their real-life romance. The twosome tied the knot in 1996 and share three children: daughter Lola, 21, and sons Michael, 25, and Joaquin, 20.

Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos Usher in New Era of 'Live' on 1st Episode
Courtesy of ABC

Lola was in the studio on Monday to celebrate her dad’s first episode, along with a few of the cohosts’ “longest friends.” After chatting about how she and her husband spent the weekend in New York City, Ripa unveiled a new Live With Kelly and Mark sign and an accompanying billboard outside.

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“This is all feeling very permanent,” Consuelos teased, to which the Live Wire author replied, “Oh honey, nothing here is permanent. Except for me, evidently.”

Ripa noted that the CW star is no stranger to the Live set having appeared several times throughout her 20-plus years helming the daytime series. Throughout Monday’s episode, the pair revisited some of his most “memorable and scintillating moments” from the show — even including footage of their three kids over the years.

News broke in February that Seacrest, 48, would be leaving Live after nearly six years and that Consuelos would be stepping in as cohost. Ripa and the American Idol host shared an emotional moment on Friday, April 14, as he said his goodbyes.

“I’ve spent my entire career talking … but today, it’s hard to put into words how deeply I’ve appreciated being here and being with you, being invited into your homes every day to try to deliver a smile or a laugh or two. I’m honored to be a part of this family,” Seacrest gushed, later thanking the entire Live staff for their hard work.

He then turned to Ripa and added, “I so appreciate your leadership, your love, your wisdom and I really do feel like a family member and we will have that forever.”

Ahead of his first episode, Consuelos told Entertainment Weekly that he knew Ripa would have his back no matter what. “My partner’s arguably the best in the business at this format. I know she’s not going to let me screw up too bad,” he teased in a joint interview published on Sunday, April 16.

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The Ugly Betty alum pointed out that when it came to working with Ripa, there were more pros than cons. “I know the schedule at Live — it’s a really great one,” he added. “It’s conducive to a life after the show, as far as the afternoons. We prioritize family time — not that we have too many kids running around anymore, but every now and then we have one coming through or staying with us, so we get to do that. Or we get to go visit a kid somewhere if they have something going on.”

As they kicked off the next era of Live on Monday, Ripa thanked Consuelos for joining her and teased, “It’s like you’ve always been here.”

The couple previously reflected on their Live journey, exclusively telling Us Weekly in February that Consuelos being part of the show felt “full circle.”

“Mark and I owe everything we have in our professional lives to ABC. We met there at the beginning of our careers and got married and had our kids while there,” Ripa told Us. “So many wonderful moments have happened while with ABC, so it only makes sense for us to come full circle and work together once again for the show that has given us so much joy and so many years of memories.”

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