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Fern Britton lamented work schedules and blended family pressures ahead of split from Phil Vickery

Fern Britton alluded to issues driving her and husband Phil Vickery apart in a series of candid interviews, months before announcing the end of their 20 year marriage.       

The 62-year-old television presenter revealed the end of her marriage to celebrity chef Phil, 58, on Wednesday but said they will ‘always share a great friendship’.

Fern candidly discussed the pressures of having a blended family combined with busy schedules which meant the former couple spent increasing amounts of time apart.

Over: Fern Britton alluded to issues driving her and husband Phil Vickery apart in a series of candid interviews, months before announcing the end of their 20 year marriage (pictured 2009)

In a 2019 interview with Prima,  Fern admitted life with a blended family could be tricky, as she tried to keep both Phil and ex husband Clive Jones – who she shares three children with – happy.  

Fern, who shares a daughter with Phil, said:  ‘It’s very difficult as the mum when you’re trying to keep two dads happy. From one side you get, “What do you mean they’ve gone off in the car?’ and the other one’s going, ‘What do you mean she had a party while I was away for the night?’.’ 

‘It’s difficult. But then I remind myself that both dads are very good and the kids are lucky to have two of them.’

Fern also divulged that she and Phil had spent limited time together in the run-up to their 20th wedding anniversary, and admitted in a 2019 interview with Good Housekeeping the pair ‘hadn’t seen much of each other’ in a year.

Ex husband: Fern candidly discussed the pressures of having a blended family combined with busy schedules which meant the former couple spent increasing amounts of time apart (above with ex husband Clive Jones and their sons in 2001)

Ex husband: Fern candidly discussed the pressures of having a blended family combined with busy schedules which meant the former couple spent increasing amounts of time apart (above with ex husband Clive Jones and their sons in 2001)

Happier times: The 62-year-old television presenter revealed the end of her marriage to celebrity chef Phil, 58, on Wednesday but said they will 'always share a great friendship' (pictured 2017)

Happier times: The 62-year-old television presenter revealed the end of her marriage to celebrity chef Phil, 58, on Wednesday but said they will ‘always share a great friendship’ (pictured 2017)

She said: ‘We haven’t seen much of each other in the past year, as I have been on tour with Calendar Girls and he has been filming, but our solid base is absolutely there.

‘He is an incredible man and he does make me laugh a lot. He has always been my best friend and he always says I’m his best friend, too, which is amazing.’

She also spoke about her children leaving home and how it had energised her and given the star a new lease of life. 

She said: ‘The children are getting sorted and we can stop being quite so responsible as adults.’

Under pressure: Fern candidly discussed the pressures of having a blended family combined with busy schedules which meant the former couple spent increasing amounts of time apart

Under pressure: Fern candidly discussed the pressures of having a blended family combined with busy schedules which meant the former couple spent increasing amounts of time apart

And in a 2018 interview with The Mirror, Fern said the couple liked to have ‘freedom’ from one another from time-to-time.   

She said: ‘We have let each other have our freedom. He’s a man who has always got to meet a man about a dog.

‘He says, “I will be half an hour”. That might be a couple of days. We don’t crowd each other and we are happy with that.’

Fern and Phil shocked fans when it was revealed they were going their separate ways after two decades.          

Absence:Fern also divulged that she and Phil had spent limited time together in the run-up to their 20th wedding anniversary (pictured 2015)

Absence:Fern also divulged that she and Phil had spent limited time together in the run-up to their 20th wedding anniversary (pictured 2015)

 The news comes just one month after the passing of Fern’s father, actor Tony Britton, who died, aged 95, three days before Christmas. 

On Twitter, both Fern and Phil wrote matching statements which read: ‘After more than 20 happy years together, [we] have decided to go our separate ways. We will always share a great friendship and our lovely children. 

‘We would appreciate it if our privacy is respected at this time. Thank you for your continued kindness and support. [sic]’

Fern and Phil share 18-year-old daughter Winnie, whilst the Ready Steady Cook presenter also has twins Harry and Jack, 26, and Grace, 23, with former husband Clive Jones.

The couple tied the knot 20 years ago in 2000, after Fern had split from Clive in the same year following a 12-year marriage.

Announcement: The couple shared matching statements on their Twitter pages to announce the end of their marriage as they thanked fans for their 'kindness and support'

Announcement: The couple shared matching statements on their Twitter pages to announce the end of their marriage as they thanked fans for their ‘kindness and support’  

Still friends: The television presenter and chef announced 'We will always share a great friendship and our lovely children' (pictured 2007)

Still friends: The television presenter and chef announced ‘We will always share a great friendship and our lovely children’ (pictured 2007)

The couple met on This Morning when Fern hosted the show alongside Philip Schofield – who now hosts with Holly Willoughby – and the star previously said she never thought she would find love again as a mother of three children.

Their announcement was met with support from their followers.

One fan replied to Fern, posting: ‘Oh Fern that’s so sad! Sending you lots of love and happiness to you and the family ❤️’

Another posted: ‘Oh Fern, I’m so sorry to hear this especially so soon after losing your dad. Take good care of yourself.’

Happier times: The pair are pictured together in the summer of 2017. The couple have vowed to stay friends following their divorce

Happier times: The pair are pictured together in the summer of 2017. The couple have vowed to stay friends following their divorce 

TV partnership: Phil and Fern met on This Morning when Fern hosted the show alongside Philip Schofield (pictured 2007) - who now hosts with Holly Willoughby

TV partnership: Phil and Fern met on This Morning when Fern hosted the show alongside Philip Schofield (pictured 2007) – who now hosts with Holly Willoughby 

Sad news: Their announcement was met with support from their followers

Sad news: Their announcement was met with support from their followers

This was followed by: ‘@Fern_Britton U and @philvickerytv are both amazing people and I wish u both the very best for the future.’

Another mourned the news, posting: ‘So sorry. Always thought you two would be together forever.’

‘I’m sorry to hear that Fern. Hope you’ll be ok. You’ve had a tough few months so I hope the coming ones aren’t so tough ❤️,’ came another tweet.

Candid: Two years ago, Fern (pictured in March 2019) spoke about her and Phil's marriage, suggesting she would rather have a cup of tea than have sex

Candid: Two years ago, Fern (pictured in March 2019) spoke about her and Phil’s marriage, suggesting she would rather have a cup of tea than have sex

Honest: 'Sex is great but a cup of tea is great, too. There's nothing nicer than getting into bed with a cuppa and having a hug and a chat – that's love,' she said [pictured in 2008]

Honest: ‘Sex is great but a cup of tea is great, too. There’s nothing nicer than getting into bed with a cuppa and having a hug and a chat – that’s love,’ she said [pictured in 2008]

Two years ago, Fern spoke about her and Phil’s marriage, suggesting she would rather have a cup of tea than have sex.

She told Good Housekeeping: ‘Sex is great but a cup of tea is great, too. There’s nothing nicer than getting into bed with a cuppa and having a hug and a chat – that’s love.

‘Lust is great, but when you really love someone and you trust each other, and you’re in bed together drinking tea and chatting, that is a true relationship.’

Fern added that she would give Phil his space to do what he wants. She said: ‘He goes and has a pint with his mates, he works, or he’s with the pigs [he’s a keen farmer], and he does what he loves. If he’s happy, I’m happy. He doesn’t stop me from doing anything either.’ 

She revealed that Phil would also affectionately call her a ‘cockroach’ in relation to her sturdiness and impressive ability to bounce back from career pitfalls.

Where it all began: Fern and Phil are pictured on her last day on This Morning in 2009 after meeting on the set of the famed daytime show

Where it all began: Fern and Phil are pictured on her last day on This Morning in 2009 after meeting on the set of the famed daytime show 

‘I’ve had a lot of very tough stuff personally and professionally, and my husband, bless his heart, says to me, ‘You’re like a cockroach. People try to kill you but you never die”, she said.

‘He walks past me singing, ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again…’ Isn’t that lovely? I think, ‘Well, if he has faith in me, why don’t I have faith in myself?’ And my children have faith in me, too.’ 

Speaking previously about the start of their romance, Fern said: ‘The boys were four; Grace hadn’t even started toddling.

As they were: 'I've had a lot of very tough stuff personally and professionally, and my husband, bless his heart, says to me, "You're like a cockroach. People try to kill you but you never die"', she said

As they were: ‘I’ve had a lot of very tough stuff personally and professionally, and my husband, bless his heart, says to me, ‘You’re like a cockroach. People try to kill you but you never die”, she said

‘I remember thinking at the time that nobody was going to take a 40-something woman with three kids.

‘Then, one day at work, someone said, ‘Phil Vickery fancies you.’ And I went, ‘Remind me – which one is he?’

‘Eventually, I kidnapped him, put him and his dirty washing – he was single at the time – in my car and drove him home. The next day, he baked me his irresistible gooseberry crumble.’

Loss: Fern's actor father Tony Britton died aged 95 in December last year, just three days before Christmas

Loss: Fern’s actor father Tony Britton died aged 95 in December last year, just three days before Christmas

Breaking the news: Fern broke the news three days before Christmas

Breaking the news: Fern broke the news three days before Christmas

RIP: Actor Tony and wife Ruth are pictured with their newborn daughter Fern in 1957

RIP: Actor Tony and wife Ruth are pictured with their newborn daughter Fern in 1957 

Fern described Phil as her ‘life’s great love… a really amazing husband, partner, friend.’

The past month has proven a difficult time for Fern, who announced her father’s death in December. 

She said: ‘Our father, Tony Britton, died early this morning. Great actor, director and charmer. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’

The actor starred in classic British films including Operation Amsterdam, Sunday Bloody Sunday and The Day Of The Jackal. 

He also appeared alongside Nigel Havers and Dinah Sheridan in the BBC sitcom Don’t Wait Up between 1983 to 1990.

Sadly missed: Tony and Fern are pictured in September 1995

Sadly missed: Tony and Fern are pictured in September 1995

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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