Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Books

with a little help from

my friends

Just as Andrea McLean's autobiography hits the shelves, her second marriage was foundering. But thanks to her Loose Women colleagues, she tells Hannah Stephenson, she'll get by

Her timing couldn't have been worse - bringing out an autobiography dedicated to her husband, whom she describes as "my knight in shining armour", and simultaneously announcing that they have split up.

Loose Women anchor and former GMTV weathergirl Andrea McLean, who made front page headlines last week, is the first to admit that the news of her split from her second husband, builder Steve Toms, has overshadowed her memoir, Confessions Of A Good Girl, although cynics say the publicity it has created is bound to boost sales.

While the couple clearly had their ups and downs, there is no indication of the impending end of her two-year marriage in the book.

"That was because, although we were going through a very difficult time, by the time I finished the book I was very much hoping that the door was still open for us to sort things out. But that wasn't to be," explains McLean (42).

She's well aware of the vitriol posted on Twitter by social networkers who argue if she felt so ashamed and embarrassed, why did she sell her story?

She insists she was in a no-win situation. Keep the break-up under wraps and she would later be accused of lying during her promotion of the book; tell the truth now and be accused of cashing in on a broken relationship.

"All the publicity for the book was organised months in advance and I knew that all my interviews would be based around, 'your first marriage ended but you found your happy ever after'.

"I couldn't sit there and lie, knowing that he'd left before Christmas."

Meeting McLean today, she seems fragile and vulnerable, like any woman still reeling from the pain of a recent break-up.

"I feel broken," she admits.

While she was all smiles on the red carpet at the recent National Television Awards, fellow Loose Woman Janet Street-Porter was at her side like a Rottweiler guarding its charge.

"Janet did not leave my side. She was literally growling at anybody who came near me. Anybody who looked like they were going to ask an awkward question got the Janet Street-Porter stare," McLean recalls.

She says her fellow Loose Women have been massively supportive, and they knew that things hadn't been right between the couple for some time.

"Sherrie (Hewson) was just wonderful. She's a bit of a matriarch and gently said, 'Don't do what I did and hang in there past the time when you think you should. You're 20 years younger than me - don't waste it'."

Despite the derogatory tweets, overall the public reaction has been great, she says.

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive from women my age who understand what it's like to go through something like I'm going through."

McLean is keen to keep things amicable. She speaks to her estranged husband every day on the phone and he speaks to the children all the time, she says. But there's no hope of reconciliation. "There is no nice, easy way to break up. Steve and I are trying to do everything as nicely as we can for the kids, because once all this dies down, I'm still a mum with two children. I want to keep their home life happy and stable."

McLean and her children, 10-year-old Finlay, from her first marriage to childhood sweetheart Nick Green (far left), and Amy (five), her daughter with Toms, are living in the family home in Surrey that she and Toms lovingly built together, although it's now under offer and she'll be downsizing to a smaller house. Her parents are also currently living with her to help out.

"I'm now really happy that there's a lovely family buying our home and they can have lots of years there making full use of it. I'm going to have to walk away and not look back."

Born in Glasgow, McLean spent her childhood in Trinidad where her father was an engineer for a sugar company. The family returned to the UK and settled in Leicester when McLean was 15.

At 17, she fell in love with school pal Nick Green. After attending Coventry University, she travelled the world with Green and became a travel writer and journalist. They both went on to broadcasting careers, she as the GMTV weathergirl and he as a TV producer. After 11 years together, they married in 1999 and had a son.

Then, in 2003, when her marriage was in trouble, she met Toms, who was a co-presenter on a DIY makeover show Our House and they began an affair that hit the headlines and ended in her divorce from Green on the grounds of adultery. It was to cause her years of guilt.

"I betrayed my husband in the worst way that a wife can. I let him and his lovely family down, and I brought shame on my own," she admits.

As well as charting her TV career, her memoir also highlights her various health problems over the years, including her post-natal depression, the panic attacks that plagued her for seven years until she found help from a hypnotherapist and, more recently, complications from a hernia operation in which she nearly died.

That brush with death led her to re-evaluate her life. "I felt I'd been given another chance and thought, 'If this is my other chance, am I happy with how things are going?' A small voice said 'No'."

When the furore of her marriage break-up has died down, she hopes she and Toms will be better friends than they were partners. "He's a wonderful man, a really good dad and a great stepdad to Finlay. It just didn't work out with us."


From Belfast Telegraph