WHAT I WROTE THEN
I was entirely unaware that my life was about to change, and change radically, as I picked up the morning paper. Then my breathing stopped.
‘Esther dumped by BBC for Lowri,’ was printed in inch-high letters across the front page. Just in case there was any doubt they were talking about me, the piece was accompanied by my photograph.
That was a fortnight ago and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Friends, colleagues, even distant acquaintances who have evidently decided I might be useful have called to congratulate me.
What Lowri Turner wrote when she was first interviewed by Femail around 50 years ago
Niceties over, they all ask the same question: ‘So, how much are you really earning?’ Estimates of my salary were rising by £100,000 a day.
My carpenter arrived clutching a copy of The Mirror and suggested I might like to review his daily rate.
I got a call from a girlfriend who often gives me a lift to the supermarket. ‘I don’t suppose you’ll be coming to Safeway with me any more,’ she said.
A fortnight later, I find myself running through lists of ex-boyfriends to work out who will sell their story and who won’t.
I am currently fantasising about an appearance in Hello! I look forward to posing with a Labrador and some Laura Ashley wallpaper soon.
It is assumed that once you are successful, you automatically feel more self-confident.
The problem is you have to watch yourself on screen, and this is really painful. I just sit there and think: ‘Oh God, my eyes look really baggy.’
But that’s not to say that reaching a certain level doesn’t make you feel good.
WHAT I DID NEXT
Twenty years after my sudden elevation to minor TV celebrity, it seems like another life.
Today, I’m a nutritionist and hypnotherapist specialising in weight loss.
Back in the late Nineties, I’d just signed a mega-deal with the BBC to present makeover shows and a chat show with my name above the door.
Blimey, I thought I’d arrived.
Lowri Turner has now written to explain what happened after her landmark article
The problem was that being famous didn’t make me happy. Going out on a Saturday night became a no-no because drunk strangers would stagger up and want to be my new best friend.
I learned to sit with my back to any window in a restaurant or people would stare as I ate.
One especially low point came when I was in a gym and a woman very slowly scanned my naked body and announced: ‘You look slimmer on the telly.’
Yes, there were some fantastic moments. When I was hosting a series in Birmingham, the Beeb paid for a chauffeur. On the way back from filming, he used to double park the Merc outside Marks & Spencer and heft my shopping into the boot. Now that’s my idea of luxury.
Drunks would stagger up and want to be my new best friend
Still, I think, looking back, I was a square peg in a round hole. While most female TV presenters back then were former models and actresses, I was from the much more obstreperous school of Fleet Street journalism.
I chafed at being told what to do and say.
My battles with my weight didn’t help. In the Nineties, it really did pay to be slim for a career in TV. I tried to keep my weight down, but all the pressure led to anxiety, which resulted in overeating. I dieted like a maniac to become a size 6, but I could never maintain it.
Within six months, I would yo-yo wildly between a size 8 and a 14 (now I’m a stable size 10).
Then I tried to get pregnant, but was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and put on steroids — which inflated me further. When I did get pregnant, my boss phoned to say she’d watched the show ‘to see how big you’d got’.
I needed to regain control of my life — and television was changing, too, with the advent of reality programmes.
So, 13 years ago, I began studying nutrition and hypnotherapy and, ten years ago, I saw my first client. I chose weight loss because of my own torrid dieting history. If anyone knows how it feels to be out of control with food, it’s me.
I have gradually regained my anonymity, something I didn’t realise was precious until I didn’t have it.
Today, my life is less glamorous, but I enjoy it. Corny as it sounds, it is fulfilling helping other people. I no longer have to try to live up to an image and, as a result, I feel calmer, happier and am also slimmer than I ever was as a TV presenter.