Stacey Mullen

GAIL Porter describes herself as "bloomin’ happy". A good place to be for the vivacious Scot who has battled mental health issues for most of her life. The once sought-after TV presenter has suffered from post-natal depression, anorexia, alopecia and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

At her lowest points, Porter battled with self-harm and ended up sleeping rough in a park bench. Now, in the new documentary Being Gail Porter, she will face her past head-on as she explores her mental health.

“I don’t want a label and I don’t think there are any answers,” she says. “I just know what makes me feel better and I know what makes me feel positive. It’s taken a long time. It has taken being sectioned, being given medication until it’s coming out my ears. Now I think the best thing for me was talking about it.

“I totally respect psychiatrists and doctors. That have got their ideas of what they think is the right way to treat things. But I know what makes me happy.”

At the height of her fame in the 1990s, the 48-year-old appeared to have it all. She fronted one of the UK’s biggest TV shows, Top of the Pops, became a lads mag favourite with FHM beaming a nude photograph of her onto the Houses of Parliament and married a rock star, Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave.

But in the documentary, Porter reveals the battles she endured underneath the glamour. While the world saw a bubbly, beautiful, slim Scot, she was battling anorexia, living off Jelly Babies and was banned from her gym for over-exercising.

She said: “I don’t really know what people’s perceptions of me are. I just hope people will watch it and think about each other – and think 'there is that bubbly Gail Porter off the telly, oh, we didn’t know that she was going through that'.”

She added: “It was hard in my younger days because you want to hide everything from everybody.”

Sitting in the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, single mum Porter is delighted to be home, having lived in London for most of her adult life. She grew up in Edinburgh’s Portobello and credits those roots for giving her the strength to overcome the issues she has faced.

She said: “It is a good thing I’m Scottish. I say to my daughter, it is because I’m Scottish it is fine. We just keep going, just keep going.”

The documentary will see Porter, mother to Honey, 17, return to those early roots as she films on Portobello Beach, a moment that brought back so many happy memories.

“It reminds me of my childhood,” a slightly teary-eyed Gail explained. “We used to walk down from my mum’s house, five minutes and we were down on the beach. It wasn’t the cleanest beach in the world when we were little but it was really nice to be back there. I used to tell people when I moved to London, yeah, I used to live on the beach."

It was clearly an emotional visit. “It gave me time to think about things, all sorts of naughty things we used to get up to when we were at school when we were not supposed to be on the beach, we were supposed to be in class. It was very nice and it was emotional.”

She added: “I miss everything about Scotland. I miss the friendliness. I miss the weather, surprisingly. I love it when it is cold and rainy.

"Don’t get me wrong, I do love London and there is lots to do. But you know when you are having a sort of insecure moment in London it’s very lonely as much as it is the busiest place in the world. Whereas if I go out here after this interview someone is going to say hello, someone is going to go, ‘alright, how you doing?’

“Even if they don’t know you they will just chat with you. I miss that .”

Porter's career began in Scotland when she landed a presenting role on the children’s magazine show Fully Booked. Filmed in Glasgow’s BBC Studios on Queen Margaret Drive.

She said: “It was the most fun. It was like a massive big family and we never stopped laughing at any point.”

During the documentary, viewers are taken on a journey that showcases Porter’s presenting style.

She recalled some of her high points: “Suddenly you get a call saying we are interested in you presenting Top of the Pops. It is one of those things you think, 'oh, come on, really'. Then you are in the studio with that microphone and you just go, 'it's Gail Porter, it’s still Number One, it’s Top of the Pops. Shut up, OMG. I’ve got the best job ever.”

Her presenting jobs may have dwindled over the years but Porter has focused her energy on being a mother to Honey, who was born during her marriage to Dan.

She said: “She is the best girl ever. She is very clever and clued up. She has got a great sense of humour. We are friends more than anything.

“She knows I have probably gone through a lot but she has got a great dad, she’s got great grandparents on her dad’s side. She is a great person to talk to but I don’t unburden everything.”

She added: “She’s not seen the documentary yet. I’m going to leave it up to her.”

Despite everything that has happened to Porter including the heartbreak of losing her mother Sandra at 60 to breast cancer in 2009 and the death of ex-boyfriend and The Prodigy star Keith Flint at 49 last year, she says she appreciates life and wants to help other people.

She said: "If I can put my hand out to you and say you are not on your own if you are going through any of those things, don’t be embarrassed because there is no point. You have only got one life, haven’t you?”

Her personal troubles will be the subject of a new book, out this summer.

“It’s a little bit One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Girl Interrupted,” she said. “It’s from when I got sectioned but there are lots of funny and happy things. You are not going to read anything about sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. It’s more about being locked up and getting on with life. Hopefully people will like it.”

Between this documentary and her memoir, 2020 might be the year for Porter to make a positive return to the spotlight but regardless of fame and fortune, Porter is in a good place.

She said: “I am bloomin' good today. I’m very happy, I’m happy to be in Scotland and I’m happy this is coming out.”

Being Gail Porter is on BBC Scotland on January 14.