Question: How does a pint-sized kid’s TV presenter from Scotland break into the

world of big person’s broadcasting?

Answer: Take all her clothes off and pose naked in a glossy magazine.

IT'S A METHOD THAT'S WORKED FOR EVERYONE from Monroe to Madonna. And now nudity appears to be doing the trick for (iail Porter. the 27-year-old who just two years ago was cleaning railings with a toothbrush as a production company runner. The ex- I’ortobello High School pupil always wanted fame. and now the familiar face of BBCs early-morning mayhem slot I’ul/v Booked has an even more well—

kent bottom after baring it for a recent edition of

glossy lad mag (iQ.

Naturally. readers had few complaints over Porter‘s buttocks bathed in blue light. But when the magazine appeared only days after the Richard

Bacon cocaine scandal. where the Blue Peter

presenter resigned alter being caught white-handed. the tabloids reported widespread moral collapse in kids TV—land with Porter‘s picture as chief culprit.

(iaining adult exposure is one thing. but making suburbia choke on its cornflakes is another. as a remarkably sharp-edged Porter testifies over a glass of wine in Iidinburgh's IiHl bar. She may be blonde. she may be pretty. she may be a mere size six. but behind the teeny frame. bubbly persona and much fawned-over puppy dog eyes is a self-knowing deadpan wit and not-to-be—messed with demeanour. 'I think people have seen me in a different light a blue one.‘ she .iests. ‘I did the pictures. because I liked the look and I thought it was a bit different. I genuinely didn’t think it was going to get the reaction it got. It's odd because you look around and see posters of pop stars who appeal to children and that‘s blatant. You walk into a shop and see l)annii Minogue practically starkers. Mine was in a men’s magazine that wasn‘t intended for kids. The only reason kids got to see it was because it was in all the papers.~

The novice star's initial reaction to the tabloid storm was to hole up in her West llampstead flat. unplug the phone and cry. She soon bounced back: ‘l‘rom those two days of tears I came out thinking. wait a minute ~- I really like that picture. It‘s a naked body. and if this is the effect it has on the British public it’s quite frightening.

'But. in a way I’m glad. It has done me a lot of

favours. There‘s a few grown-up jobs which I was considered for anyway. but since that picture everybody suddenly went "()h. (iail who'.’".‘

It‘s a question we‘re unlikely to be asking much longer. as I’ortei"s face (she‘s leaving her behind out of it this time) launches itself in an impressive number of places in the New Year. Some. like ITV shows How 2 and It's A .l/Iy'sieijv. will keep one foot on the nursery slopes of kids telly. But gigs like standing in for Melinda Messenger on (‘hannel 5's Melindu's Big Night In are the lirst of

many forays down the ski-jump of 'Safe seX? I honestly can't big chance of I999 lies. Porter is in remember the

grown-up TV. The Big Break/21s! is where Porter’s

(‘hances are she will get much further too. The (}Q experience may have been unpleasant. but it has not put her off stripping down to a white bikini for the front cover of this month‘s l-‘HM. More business woman than bimbo. Porter simply recognises her target audience when she sees it. ‘I’IIM is the largest circulating male magazine in Britain] she reasons. ‘Plus it‘s the sort of magazine that girls read too.‘

Sex and Gail Porter will be further associated in 1999 as she puts her name to a Health Education Board for Scotland (HIiBS) safe sex campaign. where she will join fellow TV personality Jamie Theakston (Live And Kicking) and various other stars in spreading the cautionary message. But. it seems Porter's love-life is not as steamy as FHA/I readers may dream of. so why did HIiBS choose her to talk about sex‘.’ "Probably because I haven‘t had it for so long.‘ she laughs. ‘They've been reading all these articles and noticed how long I've been single. I honestly can‘t remember the last time I had sex. So they‘re probably thinking. great! (iet her to do it! Safe sex'.’ You can't get much safer than that. Just don’t do it.

‘.\'o. really. I think they chose me and Jamie because we‘re not that squeaky-clean. We're real. we do live TV and the kids see us make mistakes so they're maybe going to pay attention to us.‘

At this point in the interview we are chastised by a flirtatious barman because Porter is making so much noise. This happens a lot. As sarky as she is perky. the lass is not happy in interview unless she's having a laugh. A recent chat with Hello left her miserable alter a veteran interviewer spent the afternoon boring her on the merits of suitable litisbands. 'I didn‘t laugh once.‘ she moans.

Husbands. suitable or otherwise. are not part of Porter’s game-plan. .\'or are lilm roles. crummy TV sitcoms or top ten singles although some kind of low-key collaboration with the Sneaker Pimps may be in the offing.

Instead the unashamedly ambitious daughter of a building contractor has her sights set on the male- dominated territory of (‘oogan. Iinlield. Whitehouse and (‘o. Somewhere in between the adrenaline- fuelled madness of l’u/ly Booked. Megumug. Sticky and T/It’ 'Iiilullv liilei'ueIii‘e (fume Show. Porter has found time to sit down at a screen and work on her real love ——- comedy writing.

She plans to write. produce and star in her own show. and is working on this at the moment with two friends. one of whom she admits is ‘rather famous‘. The cult comic Lenny Beige is one of her best buddies so it's easy to speculate. but she remains tight-lipped.

Aside from Beige. Porter has a serious lack of celeb pals ‘I‘m rubbish at that sort of thing' so gossip-columnists can rest assured this surprisingly ordinary star will not be

the running to replace Denise Van last time I had partying with Tara Palmer-

()uten as she exits for the land of

sitcom. She is not the only candidate sex- You (an t

'l‘ompkinson in I999. ‘I don‘t think I’m showbiz enough for her.‘ chuckles

though. so the champagne is staying get much safer Porter. ‘She‘s got to have I‘m on ice. than , I’‘l. I’oi' I’m a Portic-

l'm so sure they've given it to someone else.’ she insists. ‘I hear a lot Gail Porter

of rumours. but I'm just really pleased

List celeb.‘

Not Melinda’s Big Night In, Channel 5,

to get this far after only two years.‘ _ Weds nights throughout Jan.

21 Jan 1999 TIIE lIST13