Being Gail Porter, BBC Scotland, BBC iPlayer, presented by Gail Porter.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000df09/being-gail-porter

‘I’m no longer a pretty girl,’ Gail Porter says in a conversation she’s having with an old friend, but she’s also speaking to the viewer.

We judge so much by appearance. And she’s right. She’s no longer young and she’s no longer pretty. Alopecia has robbed her of her trademark blonde hair. In 1999, she was one of the most well-known presenters on telly. Her naked image was projected onto the Houses of Parliament. FHM magazine sold out. She remembers herself being one of the top ten hotties, but with her usual candour notes that she didn’t win. She wasn’t voted number one. Sometimes when you scratch the surface, you get more surface.

But Gail Porter is no longer a pretty mess, she’s just trying to get by. We go back to her roots, off Portobello in Edinburgh. An idyllic upbringing, sorta. Right on the beach, but mum and dad were always fighting. She was a pretty girl and got work as a children’s presenter. Anorexia was her fall-back positon. But watching these clips a different kind of girl emerges, vibrant and funny and a natural in front of the camera. She was the real deal.

Moving to London was a natural stepping stone. Everybody loved her. She even got to present Top of the Pops. That brought her a boyfriend, the lead singer of Hipsway, and a much loved child. But she suffered from post-natal depression—and depression in general—she was sectioned in 2014. Mental Health patients are hiding away at the back of the hospital she was admitted to in London.  And she admitted to being homeless and sleeping on a park bench.

The tabloids fed on her fall from fame. Her alopecia and drunkness. She also cut herself. Serious self-harm. Make-up girls were familiar with these wounds and worked out how best to hide them when she had work presenting. When the phone stopped ringing. When she had no work and no home. There’s no way out. A self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. But here’s the thing, she’s no longer pretty, but Gail Porter is lovely. She’s self-depreciating and honest. That little girl that never quite grew up has retained her childlike wonder. The media sucked her in and spat her out. But Gail Porter is still Gail Porter. I wish her all kinds of well.  

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