TV presenter Anthea Turner speaks on how she survived the split from her cheating ex.
Anthea Turner clung to the wreckage of her marriage, too frightened to let go, she admits. ‘Fear makes us make bad decisions, hold on, put up and shut up. I knew it was time to go. But honestly, death is easier than divorce. Death is final. There is no rejection. Divorce is ongoing.’
She split from husband Grant Bovey , 56, five years ago after 13 years together, following his repeated cheating with Zoe de Mallet Morgan, who’s half his age. Anthea is now passing on her advice for a smart parting of the ways in her new book, How To Survive Divorce. Although she shed lots of tears as she wrote it.
“One afternoon last Christmas, I was in panto and sitting in my dressing room proof-reading pages and I was in floods of tears. I had to go back on stage half an hour later, be a fairy and get Jack up a bloody beanstalk and I was so upset. So many bits of it made me sad, particularly the initial stages of realising my marriage was over.
“Wise old bird Gloria Hunniford said, ‘It’s not the act, it’s the deceit,’ and she was so right. I realised that while he was cheating, we were looking at moving house. I started questioning whether I was gullible or stupid or both. But I’m stronger now.”
Following her split, she took part in Channel 4 ski series The Jump.
“I ran away and did that programme when I was at my worst. It was my way of coping. Although most days I’d stand at the top of the ski jumps and think, ‘What the hell have I done?!’ For eight weeks it worked, but then I had to come home and face reality.”
After splitting from Grant, Anthea eventually saw a counsellor.
“I spent so long trying to cope, but was actually not coping at all. I needed help to move forward and I’m now a fully paid-up member of the seek help society. I’ve been in a business where I’m used to putting on my frock and my war paint and going out and sparkling, dealing with everything else when I get home and shut the door.
“My upbringing wasn’t touchy-feely either. We didn’t discuss the spiritual side of life. I got to a point where I realised I could only get so far by talking to my friends. I needed professional help to sort my mind out – from someone who didn’t know me – and it really helped.”
She still sees her counsellor. “I check in every so often, to keep me focussed and emotionally connected.”
Throughout her marriage and since her divorce, Anthea has maintained a close friendship with her ex’s daughters.
“I get on great with Grant’s girls. Last night, I was sat on the floor with Claudia, having a major discussion about a situation of hers. Then her boyfriend came in and added to it. It was lovely. Grant’s family have been in my life for 16 years. I adore his brother, my sister-in-law, his children. We’re all at a christening next weekend, although Grant is away. They are my family. They are the nicest people in the world.”
Grant’s first wife, Della, on the other hand, chooses to avoid social Bovey occasions.
“She made a decision to not be part of the Bovey family when she married again. I completely understand that,” says Anthea.
Fortunately, Anthea is on speaking terms with her ex.
“We can go weeks without seeing each other, then we’ll see each other twice in a week because he’ll call and ask me out to lunch. But we never go down the road that will lead to a screaming row. There’s no point. There have been times when I’ve absolutely wanted to kill him, but if you want to lighten your load in life, if you can, make your peace. We are not in each other’s pockets, but we’re not at each other’s throats either.”
She adds, “I’m not a vengeful person, but I do think that the best revenge is to be successful, and I’ve moved on and feel really positive now. I learned that one a long time ago. At GMTV, I hadn’t come from a journalistic background and a lot of people didn’t want me there.
“A newsreader once came up to me five minutes before we were live on air, asked if I wanted a copy of the Telegraph to check the headlines, then said, ‘Oh, I forgot, you don’t read the big words, do you?’ B***h. I developed a thick skin. I went on to do loads with ITV, but I haven’t heard of her since.”
Anthea, 56, previously wed to former DJ Peter Powell, has had short relationships since splitting with Grant and a series of dates.
“I’m rubbish at it, but I think I will love again. There is a difference between dating and going out. You can be a serial dater and not be exclusive. I think of it as auditioning men. I know what I want and what I deserve. I want someone to respect me. That’s really important to me. Your s**t shapes you. My divorce happened because there had been a lack of respect. I want a best friend who I fancy like mad. I also want someone who can do DIY or pay someone to do it. Grant wasn’t any good at DIY.”
“I have turned up, smiled and inside I’m screaming, ‘Oh God, no!’ On one occasion I was sat next to a guy on a sofa in a bar and I was being really polite, but not giving out any signals that I was interested. He was getting closer and closer and I was trying to move away.
“He leaned across to kiss me and I literally threw my head in the other direction towards the floor. I said, ‘It’s a public place and I’ve given you no indication.’ It was all horribly embarrassing! I know I won’t meet that special person on Tinder or Happn. But I’m sure it will work out one day.”