Gail Porter’s heartbreaking explanation for her naked image on Westminster

Twenty years ago Gail Porter had the world at her feet.

She was one of the most sought after TV presenters in the country, fronting one of the biggest shows on the box – Top of the Pops.

After starting her working life as a children's TV presenter, she soon branched out into modelling and mainstream television.

Gail famously helped sell a million copies of FHM when her naked image was projected onto the Houses of Parliament.

She had a rock star husband, Toploader's Dan Hipgrave, and was delighted when their daughter, Honey was born in 2002.


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But in the two decades since then, Gail's celebrity fairytale fell apart.

In a hard hitting BBC documentary, Being Gail Porter, she opens up about her battle with mental health.

The mum-of-one 's fall from grace was complete and at one point she ended up sleeping rough on a park bench.

Her marriage fell apart, the work dried up, she battled an eating disorder and went bankrupt.

For Gail, the most terrifying part of her journey was when she was sectioned for 28 days.


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However, Gail's problems started long before the public were aware there was something wrong.

While she was at the height of her fame, her eating disorder had started.

Gail admits she filled her fridge with vodka, Champagne and no food.

She was even once banned from the gym because she collapsed after a work out and survived solely on jelly babies.

Gail said: "Every time I lost weight someone would tell me I looked great and I thought that was good.


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"It was a control thing. I thought if I could control my food, everything would be better but I just ended up in hospital and I was very unwell.

"I still think I'm fat, I still struggle every day. I'm getting older and I thought I would be over it by now but I don't think I will ever be over it."

To the outside world, she looked like she had it all but even after landing her "dream job" presenting Top of the Pops, Gail was constantly plagued by fears she "wasn't good enough".

It was 1999 and it was the height of Gail's career – it was also the same year the image of her naked appeared on the side of the Houses of Parliament.


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Devastatingly, Gail had no idea how her image would be used.

She explained: "I got asked to do a photoshoot for the front cover and I thought that was great.

"The first thing I heard about it was on the news the next morning – there was my bottom on the Houses of Parliament.

"They had projected the image as a publicity stunt for FHM's 10o sexiest women but I knew nothing about what they were planning.

"Then the negative comments started and I go really depressed, so depressed I didn't want to leave the house."

But Gail was determined to remain the bubbly presenter her fans had come to expect.


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It was while she was presenting Top of the Pops that Gail met the man who would become her husband and a year after marrying, she was delighted to find out she was pregnant.

She said: "I didn't have periods for nine years because of my anorexia and I had been told I couldn't have a child, so Honey was a little miracle.

"She's the best thing in my life but I was on my own a lot of the time because Dan was away touring and I still had to earn money.

"I was still having to go out and be wee smiley Gail but I was having a really hard time."

Gail became overwhelmed with motherhood and constantly felt she "wasn't good enough".

She admits she "crumbled" and did something that she's still "deeply ashamed of" – self-harming.


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For 10 years Gail would cut herself and says she felt a sense of relief every time, but knew what she was doing was wrong.

Then, in 2003, her life began to fall apart piece by piece.

First, she suffered from crippling post-natal depression, then her marriage broke down the following year.

In 2005, Gail's hair began to fall out and within four weeks she was completely bald after being diagnosed with alopecia.

It has never grown back in the 15 years since.

Gail admits she turned to booze to help her cope as her life spiralled out of control.

She said: "No hair meant no jobs and the phone just stopped ringing and I was feeling the pressure.


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"I was drinking too much, I was just numbing the pain and it started to feel like everything had caught up with me."

Then, in April 2011, Gail reached her lowest point when she was sectioned.

She explained: "I went for a walk on hampstead Heath and I knew I wasn't mentally together. I didn't have the sense to speak to a friend, I kept it to myself and my brain exploded.

"I sat under a tree and I sent some text messages, I can't remember what they said but it was bascially 'I'm done'.

"I went to the pub to get a drink and a police officer sat down next to me, I jokingly asked him if her was going to arrest me.

"But when I went to the bar to get a drink there were three other police officers and I was taken outside to an ambulance."

Gail was put in handcuffs and sectioned. She spent several weeks in hospital, with two nights where she was on suicide watch."


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Three years later, broke, Gail had no choice but to give up her flat and lived with friends for six months.

One night she had nowhere to sleep and ended up on a park bench.

Since then, Gail has worked hard to rebuild her life, she has a flat and her career is on the up.

But she was dealt a devastating blow last year when her ex-boyfriend, Prodgy star, Keith Flint, was found dead in his home.

In an emotional tribute, Gail simply said: "Heartbroken."

As well as the documentary, Gail has also written a book about what has happened to her.

Gail wants to use her experiences to help others and let them know they're not alone.

  • Being Gail Porter is on BBC Scotland at 10pm tonight.

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