Fern Britton opens up about ‘very low’ tough times after Phil Vickery split

Fern Britton says she is back on an even keel after going through some tough times following her split from husband Phil Vickery.

The presenter and author, 62, insists that she and TV chef Phil, 58, will remain friends after announcing in January that they were separating after 20 years’ marriage.

Fern, who has 18-year-old daughter Winnie with Phil, and three children from a previous marriage, says: “There are times when I’ve been very low.

“It was a difficult year, but now I’m fine again.

“Phil and I are both OK. We simply needed to follow our own paths.

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“We realised we weren’t having the kind of life we once did. It seemed right to say ‘thank you’ and move on.”

She tells Woman & Home magazine: “Phil and I had the greatest fun together and we have the most beautiful daughter together, Winnie. We will always be connected.”

She admits touring with Calendar Girls for nine months last year left her feeling homesick. She says: “I missed home and there were days where I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’”

But she says she is looking forward to the future, adding: “Since turning 60 I’m re-powering at life.

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“Not that you have to change but you have to find the basic, real version of who you are and ask, ‘What does that person want?’

“I’m getting there, and it’s really exciting.”

The couple’s joint announcement of their split said they had enjoyed “more than 20 happy years together”.

It added: “We will always share a great friendship and our lovely children.”

The pair met in the 1990s while appearing on BBC programme Ready Steady Cook, and later worked together on ITV’s This Morning.

They married in 2000 and renewed their vows in 2008.

Elsewhere in the interview, Fern admits she feels angry at the way ITV treated her after she admitted that she had had a gastric band fitted in 2006.

Fern dropped from a size 22 to a size 12 while reportedly being paid £200,000 to front a campaign for Ryvita.

She says: “These days I’m cross about the way I was treated. At the time I was so under attack I couldn’t really think about it, but it was outrageous.”

She tells how an ITV boss phoned her and told her she must tell viewers she was “wrong” to have not revealed her secret gastric band procedure.

But Fern tells how she refused to apologise. “I said: ‘Are you asking me to apologise?’ He said: ‘I’m being very careful not to use that word.’

“So I said I wasn’t going to. And then I was suspended for a few days,” she says

She stepped down from presenting This Morning the following year.

Hinting at a rift with her former co-host on the show, Phillip Schofield, Fern adds that she always felt as if she was playing second fiddle to her male co-hosts.

She said: “Throughout my career I’ve noticed a gender problem.

“Looking back I can see how I always worked with a male presenter and somehow it was always the guy who was on top.”

  • The April issue of Woman & Home is on sale from Thursday.

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