Gail Porter has revealed she was left homeless and without money after her TV career ‘just stopped’ when she refused to wear wigs after her alopecia diagnosis.
The presenter, 49, was at the height of her career in the 90s, hosting shows including Top Of The Pops, Children In Need and The Big Breakfast.
Gail said that her TV jobs ‘just stopped’ after she refused to wear a wig while appearing on TV following her alopecia diagnosis in 2005.
Tough times: Gail Porter has revealed she was left homeless and without money after her TV career ‘just stopped’ when she refused to wear wigs after her alopecia diagnosis
Talking in a new candid interview, the TV star also credited her daughter Honey, 18, who she shares with ex-husband Dan Hipgrave, for ‘saving her life’. Gail and Dan married in 2001 but split in 2005.
Speaking on the Sacrifice and Success podcast, she explained: ‘My personality took a bit of a knock. Jobs just stopped, because you don’t look the same. ‘Would you wear a wig, would you mind wearing a wig?’ No I don’t want to wear a wig. This is how it is.
‘People go through a lot of worse things. My mum lost her hair to cancer, from chemotherapy. I just lost my hair. I’m very lucky.’
Old flame: The presenter, 49, was at the height of her career in the 90s, hosting shows including Top Of The Pops, Children In Need and The Big Breakfast (pictured with ex-husband Dan Hipgrave in 2001)
She added: ‘I was going through a divorce, no money coming in. So eventually I had nowhere to stay. It just went from bad to worse. Things like, what do you do? Do I drink? I’ve got no clue whatsoever, I don’t take drugs so…’
Gail continued: ‘I had loads of great friends but it was getting embarrassing, because I’m in my forties. My daughter’s staying at her dads.
‘I’ve got no money, I’ve got no work, I’m sleeping on people’s couches. It was like the Young Ones. I didn’t think I was going to be like this at my age.’
‘This is why you don’t take everything for granted. You must always remember how lucky you are and be extremely kind.
Homeless: Gail revealed that eventually, she was living on the streets and sleeping on benches, but has credited her daughter Honey, 18 – who she shares with ex-husband Dan Hipgrave – for saving her life
Gail recalled that at one point, she also did not have enough credit on her phone to be able to get in contact with anyone.
‘So there were a few times I didn’t have enough money on my phone to call anybody.
‘If I found a pound I was thinking, what do I do with a pound? I’ll see if I can find another one and get a mini bottle of wine from the local off license or those little ones.
‘Anything for comfort. I was freezing as well, because I was outside.’
The TV star was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2011, and she admitted she was ’embarrassed to be the worst mum’ to Honey, but she was motivated by her daughter to save her own life, as she later sought treatment.
She said: ‘I went to rehab for my depression, self-harming, if I didn’t have Honey I wouldn’t be here. One hundred percent. I would not be here. But I thought, I could not do that to my daughter at all.’
Last October, Gail revealed she no longer ‘felt confident’ about dating, and had accepted the idea of growing old alone.
No longer dating: Last October, Gail revealed she no longer ‘felt confident’ about dating, and had accepted the idea of growing old alone
Speaking to Closer Magazine, she explained that losing her hair to alopecia has affected her self-confidence.
‘Basically, if anyone wants to date me, that would be great. But I think I’ve given up. I guess I’m just going to die with a cat.
‘I’m bald and I don’t feel confident about dating. I’d love to meet someone, but I don’t feel pretty and it’s fine. When I lost my hair, I lost a lot of confidence – but I have a happy heart.’
Gail added that her daughter brings her great joy and is always championing her, as she gushed: ‘Honey’s always very and positive and says, ‘You’re going to get a boyfriend’, and I’m just like, ‘Oh whatever.’
Milestone: Gail is set to turn 50 this month
The star is set to turn 50 this month, but she isn’t ‘scared’ about reaching the milestone age because she feels much younger than her years.
She said: ‘With everything that’s happened in my life, I only feel 18.
‘I’m not scared about turning 50. There are some people who think they have to act in a different way when they reach a certain age, but with me, the older I get, the younger I act. When I speak to Honey, I never feel like a grown-up.’
Gail married Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave in August 2001 and gave birth to their daughter a year later, before they separated in 2005.
WHAT IS ALOPECIA?
Alopecia, which causes baldness, is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. The immune system – the body’s defense system – turns on itself.
What are the symptoms?
‘Typically, one or more small bald patches, about the size of a 50p piece, appear on the scalp. The hair can start to regrow at one site, while another bald patch develops. Hair may also begin to thin all over the head,’ says Marilyn Sherlock, chairman of the Institute of Trichologists.
What causes it?
‘For some reason, the body’s immune system begins to attack its own hair follicles. Special white blood cells in the body, known as T-lymphocytes, cause the hair to stop growing,’ she adds.
Can worry make it worse?
Stress has been shown to prolong the problem.
Is it an inherited condition?
There is strong evidence to suggest that alopecia, like other auto-immune diseases, runs in families. About 25 per cent of patients have a family history of the disorder.
Who gets it?
Alopecia areata usually affects teenagers and young adults, but it can affect people of any age. It is just as common among men as women.
Is there a cure?
There is no known cure, although there are various treatments which may be effective for some people.