Former TV golden girl Anthea Turner lifts lid on rift with Eamonn Holmes and says she is not 'ruthless'

SHE was the golden girl of breakfast telly – until a public row with co-host Eamonn Holmes over her “ambition and vanity” saw her forced off GMTV.

And 25 years on, Anthea Turner admits she still feels sore about his cruel comments and being called “Princess Tippy Toes”.

In an exclusive interview, the 61-year-old author and housekeeping expert says she wishes social media was around back then so she could have hit back her critics.

Anthea said: “Revenge is a dish best served sweet. Best of all, I’m still here.

“I thought it was sad. I just wanted to do the job I enjoyed, but unfortunately the roles have to be labelled.

“I was always asked if I was ambitious and, if I said yes, I was made out to be a ruthless person who would walk over anybody to get where I wanted.

“It would be said that I was hormonal, or I was stamping my feet.

“And yet ask that question to a man, and if he’s ambitious, we think, ‘What a guy’.

“You’d never hear anyone say that about Eamonn or Phillip Schofield. No, they’re just doing their job.”

Anthea and Eamonn, 61, made up a decade later, but she hints that while the hatchet has been buried, it has not been entirely forgotten.

She added: “I think as you get older, you look back and smile. It’s more like water off a duck’s back now.

“I definitely haven’t got ‘bitter’ or ‘twisted’ tattooed across my forehead.

“I haven’t weighed myself down with anything from the past, or any of that negativity.

“I did at the time, of course, and I’ve had terrible moments, but I always know that will pass.

“Nobody likes injustice, nobody wants to be misrepresented. It hurts, it really hurts.

“I’d read things about myself and think, ‘I don’t know that person’.

“So the one good thing now about social media is that you have an immediate chance to reply.

“If somebody says or writes something stupid, you can go straight on to Twitter, you can go on to Instagram, and you can say something.

“So I do think that is a great advantage.”

Anthea was in her mid-thirties when she landed a dream role on ITV morning show GMTV in 1994.

But just two years later she had fallen out spectacularly with Eamonn, who complained that she was too demanding and obsessed with her image.

At the time, Anthea admitted she felt physically sick in the mornings before work and said it was a “hostile” environment.

In 1996 she quit — to be replaced by Fiona Phillips — saying it was the right time for her to go even without the “silliness” from Eamonn.

But she also admitted she was “gutted” and “hurt”.

The pair made up in 2005 when Eamonn reached out — and he even invited her to join him and wife Ruth Langsford on the This Morning sofa in 2018.

Yet their row only added to the self-doubt that has plagued Anthea all her career.

The Stoke-born star was reportedly the second-highest-earning woman on television at the time — behind only Blind Date host Cilla Black.

Anthea said: “I don’t think anybody thinks they’ve made it. I have never thought that way. Like many people in entertainment, I lived on the edge, worrying this could be my last job because somebody would find me out.

“I was in a white-knuckle ride for years.

“I was called the ‘girl next door’ and ‘golden girl’ and given all these little tags.

“Apparently, I was the second-highest earner after Cilla. There must have been a huge gap between Cilla and me.

“I was on a decent salary. But, considering what people get nowadays, it was nothing.”

After stints hosting Top Of The Pops, her first major role came on BBC children’s show Blue Peter in 1992 — and she says she was left feeling “slightly naked” by her sudden rise to fame.

Speaking to the Miranda Holder Weekly Fashion Podcast, she said: “I love Blue Peter. But can you imagine it now? With all the health and safety rules.

“Saying to children, ‘What you do is you get this flammable tinsel and wrap it around your coat hanger, and then you get a jungle pot and put them on the end’. You’d burn a house down.

“Fame to me was always just a by-product of the job.”

Even so, Anthea was a household name and fans wanted to know everything about her.

With a smaller pool of celebrities in the Nineties and no reality TV stars, she was one of Britain’s biggest names, but unlike celebrities now she had no team to look after her.

She said: “Look at somebody like Holly Willoughby — there’s an infrastructure. She has a PR who looks after her publicity.

“I didn’t have a PR, I had a management company, but they were as shocked as I was about it. None of us were prepared for all the attention.

“I was out there and felt slightly naked.”

Anthea’s personal life was equally unsettling.

Her eight-year marriage to her manager, former DJ Peter Powell, ended in divorce in 1998 after she embarked on an affair with married businessman Grant Bovey.

He left his wife so they could marry in 2000 and they lived together on a £10million, 57-acre Surrey estate with its own polo pitch, stables, outdoor pool and helipad.

But Grant, 60, was declared bankrupt in 2010 after his property empire collapsed and his creditors also sued Anthea for £1.6million.

Anthea also went through several gruelling and unsuccessful rounds of IVF treatment before the marriage spectacularly ended in 2015 when Grant had an affair.

Anthea hit rock bottom but says she still has a great relationship with both former husbands and her stepdaughters Lily, 28, Amelia, 27, and Claudia, 23.

She added: “Yes, I have had divorces and so have many people. But a lot of people haven’t and I applaud them.

“Things go wrong and I have a great relationship with Peter and Grant.

Anthea’s love life

­­­­­­­­­­­PETER POWELL, 1990-1998: Anthea met Peter, who is nine years her senior, during her time on BBC Stoke. They split after Anthea admitted an affair with mutual pal Grant Bovey. Peter stayed on the payroll as Anthea’s manager.

GRANT BOVEY, 2000-2015: At her wedding to property tycoon Grant – paid for by OK! magazine – the couple were accused of trying to profit from their special day when snapped tucking into a Cadbury’s Snowflake bar.

MARK ARMSTRONG: Anthea met businessman Mark, 56, in a London private members’ club. They got engaged in Rome in 2019 after five months. But they’ve had to delay their Italian wedding plans due to the pandemic.

“My friend thought I had clinical depression after my divorce from Grant. I had been so horribly down. I am OK now, and I have moved on.

“I know people who are still harping on about divorces or something that happened years ago and all it has managed to do is pollute their future.

"When you get to my age, you realise that you have got so many more air miles behind you.

“So I am not going to lose any of the air miles in front of me.”

Anthea is now engaged to 56-year-old business tycoon Mark Armstrong and is set on tying the knot again when Covid restrictions finally lift.

She said: “We have lots of great ideas and he’s half-Italian so we’d love to get married in Italy.

“I have a lot of very romantic ideas about Italian churches.”

And she is determined this marriage will work, saying: “We consolidated during the lockdown.

“I think if you can get on during this time, you can any time.

“We know each other and we haven’t argued at all.”

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