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Interview: Anthea Turner - I lost my bottle after the wedding, I couldn't eat or get up..I crave approval but I was annihilated; THE REAL REAL ME: Anthea Turner reveals all to NINA MYSKOW.

Byline: NINA MYSKOW

TV PRESENTER Anthea Turner was the archetypal golden girl of British TV. The classic girl next door on the GMTV sofa, the first star of BBC1's Lottery show, the blonde beauty on Wish You Were Here...?

The image tarnished when she had an affair with, and subsequently married, Grant Bovey. He and his ex-wife Della had been friends of Anthea and her former husband Peter Powell. There was a further scandal when OK! magazine released a wedding photograph of the couple which appeared to advertise a chocolate bar.

From Monday, Anthea hosts a new programme, Taste Today, an hour-long show devoted to food and drink. On weekdays at 2pm it is on Taste CFN, available on cable and digital.

She lives with Grant in a mansion set in 50 acres in Sussex, which is where we met. Slight and stunningly pretty, underneath the professional veneer her composure is fragile.

I'M not motivated by food. Not in the way that, you know, if something goes wrong in your life? Some people hit the biscuit tin, and food is a great comfort.

I actually go in the opposite direction. Food is not my comfort. At times of stress I lose weight. Quite dramatically. I don't eat. It somehow sticks in my gut, and I can't eat.

I have an appetite. Gosh, yeah. I'll always have seconds, especially if it's Sunday roast. I definitely have a full plate. But it's often a bone of contention between Grant and myself.

Because Grant enjoys his food. He enjoys sitting down to a lovely plate of food, and he'd do that every night.

And if I'm on my own, I'd have a little bit of cheese, a tomato and packet of crisps, and go and find something else to do. He loves the whole ritual. And food shopping, which I hate. I only like it if I've got a dinner party, I adore cooking for other people. But I'm somebody who tends not to for myself.

I've never been on a diet. Even though I enjoy eating, I don't stuff my face. If somebody offered me a piece of chocolate, I would eat it, and thoroughly enjoy it. But I know that this morning I ran for half an hour, and then I was in the gym here.

I like running, I go riding, I'm a fidget. It takes a lot, even in the evenings, for me to stop. Grant's often saying, "Sit down. Just sit down."

And I will fidget and fiddle, and be doing things. I'm obsessed with cleaning, as people who watched Big Brother discovered. I was cleaning the horses' hooves out last night. Far too late to be doing that, actually. I decided that they needed their hooves doing, so I had them all in. It had gone dark, and I couldn't see any more, even with the lights on in the courtyard.

I wouldn't like being fat. I wouldn't like it. No, no, no! If I felt things were going that way, I would do something about it. But my dad is tall and slim, it's in my genes.

And from an early age I danced quite seriously until I was 21. I know I'm 53 kilos, because that's on my ski bindings. I'm 5ft 6ins. Not too tall, not too small. I'm an off-the-peg size 10.

Cheerful little face, if I've had a good night's sleep. Although as you get older - I'm 41 - it takes longer in the mornings to settle down, I've noticed.

That "girl next door" tag was given to me. I can understand why. I think I have that sort of unthreatening look. I don't come over as a sexy man-eater. I'm somewhere in the middle there.

And I'm not ungrateful. I know how to make the best of the bits I've got, and I'm determined to look after them. I've made it my business to understand exercise. It's just maintenance. But it wasn't until later in life I realised I love it. I hated gym and sport at school.

But growing up in Stoke-on-Trent - it was Mum, Dad and my two sisters - we had ponies and dancing lessons and bikes, so it was very active.

VERY happy. Very lucky. I wanted to be a dancer, but as time went on I realised I'd have been back row of the chorus. It didn't seem quite as exciting.

I needed a car, so I took a job at the AA to pay for it and, while I was there, they said, "Would you like to do the road traffic reports for the local BBC station?" And that got me started.

I went to Sky in '86, and to Blue Peter in '92. It was a real, proper job. Keeps you occupied 12 months of the year, few and far between. I did it for over two years, it was heaven. Then there was GMTV, Wish You Were Here?, the Lottery. I've done so many programmes.

But Blue Peter gave me most pleasure. And I'm glad I did Big Brother. Part of me when I was in there thought, "My goodness me, what am I putting myself through?"

But when we walked into the studio on the Friday night, I suddenly thought, "Actually, I feel all right. I feel good about myself again. I've done something that is OK." Oh dear, I'm sorry, it makes me cry just to think about it. You see, I lost my bottle. Lost it, just after the wedding.

I lost my confidence. Thought, "I can't do anything." And, "I must be a terrible person." Cope? I didn't.

When something like that happens, the best thing to do is to shut up shop, shut the gates, shut the front door and go, "That's it." That's what I did for six months. I didn't have a breakdown. I don't think I did. But it was depression, yes. Clinical depression.

I lost weight, I stopped eating. I had days when I couldn't get up. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't spending every day in my pyjamas. I had good days, and not such good days, and bad days. But it was very difficult.

I'd force myself to go and do bits and bobs, but I couldn't really face it. I thought I had to apologise every time I went out. It was so horrid to be thought of so badly.

I got help with it. No pills, I like to be free from rubbish like that. I went and talked to someone. But I knew what the problem was. I'd grown up being a people-pleaser. Someone who craves approval. And my approval rating was on the floor. It was a constant annihilation. I was being judged. And I couldn't do right for doing wrong.

It will be four years in August that Grant and I fell in love and I wouldn't wish what we went through on anybody. But I don't regret it, because your emotions are your emotions. I didn't do anything through malice. I fell in love, and he with me.

I fought it for a long time because I was brought up in a very Christian environment. It's adultery at the end of the day, and it's wrong. But it happens. And it happened. But nobody takes a happy man from a happy home. I felt, "What have I done that anybody else hasn't done at some point?"

But we were castigated. It was awful, vile. But it was a good story. Squeaky-clean girl next door, supposed to have it all, comes crashing to the floor.

SHE'S admitted to having an affair with a married man. And he's got three children. That's just like, "Phwoh!"

I did a book explaining it, but it was terribly bad timing after the farrago of the chocolate bar wedding photo. I don't regret the book, it was a statement of fact. But I'll always deeply regret having my wedding photographed by a glossy magazine.

It was bad judgment. I've made mistakes, and learned from them. Everything that's gone on with Grant and me, I still shudder over it all. But it was done through an absolute love for each other. Nothing else. But that was one lesson I didn't want to learn.

I know it was a high-risk strategy, but part of putting myself back together was doing Big Brother. It was extreme, but I thought, "I've got to be brave. Because if I don't get out there again, I never will." My mum said, "Wash your hair and put some make-up on, you'll feel better." She was right.

I think it's that blackness. You can't see a future. And I'd always been able to see forwards. The light at the end of the tunnel. That's why I'm thrilled I've got a proper job. Taste Today. An hour-long live daily show, which I co-host with Mark Curry, talking about food. I'm really looking forward to it.

It's good fun, and a dream job. It's very easy for people to have a little bitch over it because it's satellite. But no longer is it the poor relation.

They're offering an excellent team, putting serious money into the programmes. It's everything I could wish for. I've got a 12-month contract, I know what I'm going to do every day, and everything is coming together again.

Most of my happiness comes from Grant. He's a lovely chap. I fancy him, ooh yes. I always have this great urge to give him a big kiss when I see him.

Here, this is my favourite picture of him with me and the girls. He looks like my brother, doesn't he? Same ski-slope of a nose. He's very calm, a good balance for me. One of the nicest people I've ever met.

He's a wonderful father and I would like a child with him. But we've tried everything, including IVF four times, and it didn't work. It does affect you with a deep sense of loss. It's like a miscarriage. I will still be an optimist. I won't give up until I hit the menopause. But I have to forget about it now. Relax, and get on with my job. When you're anxious, you're closed. If it's meant to be, it'll happen.

For now, I just want a bit of peace and happiness. Not to be judged in the way I have been. And just to enjoy my job. I need work, and I need the stimulus. But I love the fact that I come home to Grant. I feel that this is where I'm meant to be, with the right person.

The last four years have been like a train wreck. Has it been worth it? Yes. Taking the wedding to one side, most definitely. What Grant and I have, I wouldn't trade for anything. Not for anything in the world.

I lose control on the tube..

MY BIGGEST DOWNFALL

SMARTIES! I just love them, I always have. I can't open a tube without throwing my head back and just chucking the whole lot in my mouth. Straight down. Choke? I don't care. I just crunch the whole lot down. Orange ones are my favourite. And then second on my list are Terry's Chocolate Oranges. Crack one of those, and it just opens up. You think, "I'll just have a few." And before you know, you've finished the lot.

MY FAVOURITE DRINK

YOU can't beat a good gin and tonic, but I mostly have it when I'm out. Grant and I don't drink much at home, we often have a cup of tea instead. The last hangover I had was in '89, on some firewater Phillip Schofield brought back from the Caribbean. I was carried home, and the next morning I was being a godmother. I remember standing by the font thinking, "My God, I'm going to be sick in it." Luckily I made it to the loo.

MY BIGGEST HATE

I'M always reticent to say, because you should always be grateful that you have a body that works, and I am, but I've got knobbly knees, which I inherited from my dad. And I've got a flat head. Look, see if I flatten my hair on the top here? Flat head. I must have been dropped when I was a child. Thank goodness I've got such thick hair, I'd look a really funny shape. If I had to do a Sigourney Weaver, I'd look awful.

MY FAVOURITE SPORT

RIDING, I thoroughly enjoy it. We have six horses here at the moment, but I only really ride my own, Caramello. It's Spanish for sweet, we bought him in Malaga. He's so beautiful, look at him out there in the paddock. Isn't he gorgeous? I ride about three times a week. I'm not so sure it makes any difference to the old thighs. It probably just wobbles them around a lot. You see some very big bums on the backs of horses!

MY CLOSET SECRETS

OH DEAR, shoes - I'm Imelda, very much so. We're definitely in the hundreds. I can't tell you how many pairs of black ones, really. But ask me how many pairs of black trousers I've got. Eighteen! Honestly, I've just counted. I'm good at shopping, but I'm lazy. If it's not in Harvey Nichols or Whistles, forget it. There's a Whistles sale on at the moment. I've been already. And who bought the one thing that wasn't in the sale?

CAPTION(S):

MISTAKE: Grant and Anthea enjoying a Cadbury's Snowflake bar in OK! magazine's wedding exclusive; SMILES: Anthea says her Blue Peter days gave her the most pleasure; Picture: JOHN FERGUSON
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 29, 2001
Words:2275
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