AS a television golden girl, Anthea Turner has enjoyed a marvellous career. As a divorced woman, things have gone far less smoothly.
The presenter of Top Of The Pops, Blue Peter, GMTV and all manner of hit shows is now 57, having been married to Peter Powell and then Grant Bovey, and seen her world crash down around her.
Now, Anthea has written a powerful book about the subject, How To Survive Divorce, in the hope that she can help others in a similar situation.
We caught up with her for an exclusive chat about her own experiences.
“As I explain in the book, it was my husband’s changing pattern of behaviour which slowly but surely chipped away at my confidence until I became a person I didn’t recognise any more,” Anthea says of her relationship with Grant.
“It was only when I was pushed to my limit and filed for divorce that the process of getting back my independence and strength could begin.
“Everyone is different, but I can honestly say it took me about four years to return to the old Anthea Turner.
“For years, Grant made me believe that I was either imagining he’d changed or that it was my fault.
“I honestly didn’t believe he’d cheat on me because, as is well-documented, we both left our previous partners to be together and we both swore to each other that we’d never go down that painful road, ever again.
“So when I discovered he’d been unfaithful, it was a horrible shock.
“But I’m naturally a very trusting person and now I’m back to who I was before we married, I like to think that I can still judge everyone on their own merits.
“I try not to be cynical and still feel able to trust my instincts. I’m also older and wiser and know what to look for!”
What is it like to be in the middle of all those horrible stories breaking in the media when you’re already suffering?
“I can’t pretend it was easy,” she admits. “But I’ve been in this business for decades and I know it’s all part of the deal.
“I’ve lived a lot of my working life in the spotlight, so I knew when Grant and I got together, and later when we divorced, that the media would have a field day.
“It did add to the trauma, but at the same time, I found many people were very kind and supportive, too.
“I don’t want to make excuses for Grant’s behaviour — there is no excuse for cheating on your partner. But I do think if his business hadn’t collapsed, he wouldn’t have had the problems he did and may have behaved differently.
“It’s impossible to know for sure.”
Regardless of such contributing factors, when someone does cheat on you, is it already beyond the point of being fixable?
“No, not in my opinion,” Anthea insists. “In the book, I talk about how I gave Grant a second chance after I discovered he’d been unfaithful.
“We still loved each other and I desperately wanted to keep the family together. I don’t regret it as I know I tried everything to make my marriage work, and everyone deserves a second chance.
“It was when he betrayed my trust again that I accepted it was time to call it a day.”
What big tips does she have for others going through this turmoil?
“Divorce is painful and emotionally traumatic, whether or not you’re the one who wants it,” Anthea acknowledges.
“So in the first instance, I’d say are you sure you want to go down this road? Is there any help you can seek first?
“I’m not talking about an abusive relationship here — that’s always a no no — but if you’re simply bored or believe you’ve fallen out of love, can you fix it?
“I’d advise getting the best possible lawyer you can afford, so you have someone qualified on your side to help you through the legal minefield.
“Don’t rush to sign up the first solicitor you find — speak with at least three — then make sure they’re prepared to fight for you and get you the best possible deal for you and any children you have.
“Before your first appointment, work out your finances, everything you need to live on, right down to the last penny. That saves time and money in the long run.”
Having folk around you who are on your side obviously helps, too.
“I do believe you should surround yourself with people you can trust to help you through the early difficult days and weeks,” she agrees.
“Don’t try and deal with the emotional fall-out all on your own. There’s a chapter in the book called Friends and Family which deals specifically with this issue.
“I know I couldn’t have got through my divorce without my ‘War Cabinet’ of dear friends.”
What about afterwards? How soon should you even consider dating again?
“Now, this is where everyone is different,” admits Anthea.
“I have friends who threw themselves into the dating game before the ink on their divorce papers was dry. Personally, I wasn’t interested in ‘getting out there’ for quite a while.
“I needed to get back to feeling confident and happy again before I could contemplate another relationship.
“I didn’t try dating for about a year after my divorce and it was too soon.
“But I know women who met their next long-term partner within months of leaving their ex and it seemed to work for them, so everyone is very different.
“It depends on how quickly you are able to bounce back and I guess this will partly depend on the reasons for divorcing in the first place.”
So is the lady herself with someone new? And what are her plans for the future, personally and professionally?
“Ha, ha!” she laughs. “Let’s just say I’m having fun auditioning right now!
“I’m delighted to say that life has never been better for me. I’ve got several TV projects on the go, including a short series on divorce for ITV’s Lorraine.
“I’ve also started a new gifting box business, The At Home Box Company. Then, of course, How To Survive Divorce is doing so well, I’m thrilled!”
How To Survive Divorce by Anthea Turner is published by Splendid Publications, price £9.99. Weekly News readers can buy the book at the special price of £6.99. To order your copy with FREE UK p&p, go to www.splendidbooks.co.uk/DIVORCE or send a cheque or postal order to Weekly News Offer, Splendid Publications Limited, Unit 7, Twin Bridges Business Park, South Croydon, CR2 6PL.
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