Black background. Gail Porter, a middle aged white woman with alopecia, faces the camera with her body but looks over her right shoulder, clasping her hands together. She is wearing a dark purple top, and sheep skull-shaped rings on her middle fingers

Tony Denton promotions

Gail Porter: Hung, Drawn and Portered

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Gail has just completed 31 sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is now taking her hilarious stand-up show on tour.

“Has anyone here been sectioned?” TV presenter Gail Porter jokily asks her audience. Famed for her vibrancy as well as mental health struggles, she has turned to comedy to take control of her own story.

The show documents her life experiences and appears to be liberating. “If I’ve got a problem, I like to share it – whether it’s homelessness or losing my hair. “I’ve been in a psychiatric unit and I just think: ‘You know what? I’ll just tell you. What’s the worst that could happen?'”

She got the taste for comedy last year after she teamed up with stand-ups John Bishop and Tony Pitts for their Fringe show, Three Little Words. “We just did not stop laughing,” she says. The duo made a throwaway comment that she should write her own show – so she did.

As a lively 25-year-old in the 1990s, she hosted TV programmes, including Fully Booked, Top Of The Pops and Wish You Were Here.

But her pathway began to change tack in 1999 when she posed naked for FHM magazine. She was assured the image wouldn’t go anywhere, but instead it was projected onto the Houses of Parliament, standing 18m (60ft) high. The first she knew of it was when she heard her name mentioned on the news.

In 2005 she also developed alopecia and her TV career practically ended overnight.

“It was so quick,” she says. “I had long blonde hair, and then four weeks later I was completely bald. People didn’t want to go near me for television or anything because I looked different.” She decided early on that wearing a wig wasn’t for her: “My head’s quite a good shape and I’m quite clumsy and I thought I’m the sort of person that would probably take my wig off in a bar, scratch my head, put it back on, and then everyone in the bar would be traumatized.”

But it has also provided her with a wealth of amusing material.

★★★★★

‘Gail is a very talented storyteller’

One4Review

★★★★

‘There are laughs, there are audible gasps and there are quiet tears.’

The List

★★★★

‘Porter holds the audience in the palm of her hand throughout’

Broadway Baby

★★★★

‘You’ll definitely come out smiling.’

Broadway World

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