Pictures by Alan Olley / Words By Richard Barber
Tortured Anthea Turner has told how she blames herself for her husband’s “close friendship” with another woman – and admits she needed counselling to cope with the betrayal.
The Dancing on Ice star’s world was ripped apart last August when bankrupt property developer Grant Bovey was accused of cheating with a 25-year-old heiress.
Speaking candidly for the first time since the scandal, Anthea, 52, says she is convinced the weeks she spent working abroad before their marriage hit the rocks played a part in Bovey’s relationship with Zoe de Mallet Morgan.
And the already petite TV presenter tells how her weight plummeted by a stone as she struggled to cope with her trauma.
“Looking back now, I can see our lives were becoming like a pressure cooker,” she says. “Grant’s business problems and eventual bankruptcy inevitably had an impact on our marriage.
“But my decision to pursue my career in Canada doesn’t look so sensible now. Long periods apart are never good for a healthy relationship. But then we’re all fallible. We all make mistakes.”
Anthea spent weeks at a time filming Dinner Party Wars for Canadian TV.
Fans will be shocked by the presenter’s eagerness to take blame for Bovey’s relationship with heiress Zoe, when her only “mistake” was working to support Grant, 51, who was declared bankrupt in 2010.
But Anthea doesn’t think dwelling on the details helps. “Grant and I didn’t indulge in ridiculous amounts of navel-gazing.
“I didn’t cut up all his suits and throw them out the window. I didn’t pour his bottles of good wine down the drain. That might have made me feel good for about 10 minutes, but it wouldn’t have been a solution.”
While her marriage is now back on track and “better than ever”, the former GMTV presenter was devastated when rumours of her husband’s infidelity emerged… and was forced to decide whether to take him back.
“It’s true,” says Anthea. “I lost a stone because of my emotional trauma. It was too much, I went down to under eight stone.
“At the beginning, when I found out about Grant’s friendship, let’s call it, with another woman, I was like a rabbit in the headlights. I didn’t know what to do.
“Should I cut off my nose to spite my face? Should I stand by my principles? Or was there still enough love between the two of us to try and put it right? Nobody had died but I found myself looking down the barrel, and having to make a big life decision.”
Romance has seldom been easy for Anthea. Her first marriage to Peter Powell collapsed, she fell for Bovey when he was married to her friend, then he was plunged into financial troubles.
But when the claims about him emerged she took the huge step of going to a private therapist for the first time – something she has never spoken out about until now.
“I found the sessions really useful,” she says. “You can talk to your family and friends, but if you have a problem I’d strongly urge seeking out a professional who doesn’t know you personally and who isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear.”
Opening up to a stranger wasn’t easy for the former Blue Peter presenter. “I’m from Stoke-on-Trent,” she says. “You don’t do things like that in Stoke. You have a cup of tea and discuss it. But perhaps you sometimes need the advice to be dispassionate.
“If you can’t see the wood for the trees, try talking to somebody who could help you look at things in a different way. It certainly worked for me. The point of a therapist, of course, is that they don’t tell you what you should do. They encourage you to come up with the right decision yourself.”
She was forced to question whether it was worth dragging her 12-year marriage back from the brink. She says: “It’s easy to say this now, but the one thing life has taught me down the years is you can live to regret a knee-jerk reaction.
“Why push yourself into a position from which there’s no way back? If I’d thrown out a massive amount of anger, if I’d said things in the heat of the moment, it would have been very difficult to pull back from that after I’d cooled down.”
Anthea, who performed well in this year’s Dancing On Ice but was voted out early after viewers failed to warm to her, says lashing out on impulse isn’t her style.
“I’m not instinctively a very angry person,” she says. “I look at things from both angles and I always see the fault in myself before I see the fault in anyone else. I see the bigger picture. And although Grant is the most important person in my life, there were other people to consider. I’m very close to his three girls for instance.
“As you get older, life becomes more complicated because it involves more add-ons. But too many people, in my opinion, cut loose too quickly. At the first sign of trouble, more and more couples throw their toys out of the pram and run rather than work through their problems. I would never want to wake up 18 months down the line and think, ‘What did we throw away?’
“If there’s something worth saving, then try and save it. Fight for what you think is right, simple as that. If it turns out there’s not enough love left, if it feels like pushing water uphill, then forget it. We were put on this planet not to endure, but to enjoy. But some things are worth fighting for. So I fought. And God likes a trier.”
Anthea is definitely that… and has vowed not to leave her husband’s side for so long again, for work or anything else.
“One conclusion of all this is that I won’t go back to Canada again,” she says. “It simply wouldn’t be worth it. I want to be with my husband. I don’t actually enjoy not spending time with Grant.”
Anthea says her marriage is back on track.
“It’s not back to where it was. It’s better than it’s ever been,” she says. “Of course I wouldn’t have wished for it all to happen in the first place. But I honestly believe something miraculously good has come out of something bad. What we did came down to just plain common sense. Every so often your lawn needs a re-turf and that’s where we’d got to in our marriage.
“We had a lovely Christmas with the family and then Grant and I went to stay at the hotel in Mauritius where we’d got engaged, just the two of us.”
The threat to her marriage has taught Anthea some sharp lessons. “Men are very good at compartmentalising things, aren’t they?” she says. “Women pick over things, worrying away at a scab just as the skin is healing. But scratch it and you’ll bleed again. You’ve got to be tough with yourself. You’ve got to learn to let go of a problem, otherwise it will destroy you.
“As a woman my life is one big sphere, everything is interlinked. That isn’t true of a man. If a man and a woman are going through a trauma, he can go to work and his colleagues would have no idea anything was wrong at home.
“If I went to work when there were problems at home, I’d collapse on the floor and cry all over my mates. Women not only define themselves by their problems, they repeat patterns over and over again, repeatedly going down the same destructive paths.
“You should deal with a difficulty to the best of your ability, bury it and move on.”
And Anthea proves she is definitely NOT a poster girl for feminism…
“I can honestly say that after all that skating on Dancing On Ice my bum is in better shape than it’s been all my adult life, and probably since my teens,” she says.
“Grant’s very keen on it. Oh, he’s very happy with his wife.”
– ANTHEA Turner has asked for a donation to be made to Oasis, a charity which helps young homeless people, for this interview. You can make a contribution too at http://www.oasisuk.org
Story in Sunday Mirror
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