The sister of TV’s Anthea Turner has lifted the lid on the feud that has torn their family apart.
Wendy Turner Webster has not spoken to her older sibling for almost two years after a fall-out over money she owes the former GMTV and Blue Peter star.
And now she has accused Anthea, 58, of putting her under such “intolerable pressure” to pay back the debt – said to be tens of thousands of pounds – that it is damaging her mental health.
Fellow TV presenter Wendy 51, best known for Channel 4’s Pet Rescue, says: “I’m profoundly hurt my own sister could behave in a way that has taken me to the edge of madness.
“It’s why I’ve had to cut all ties with Anthea – and it gives me no pleasure to have to say that in public.
"As I sit here, all I feel is sadness and regret and bitter disappointment that money could have come between us quite so catastrophically.”
The story begins when Anthea lent a substantial sum to Wendy and her husband Gary Webster.
The money was intended to put them on a firm financial footing as the former Minder actor awaited commission from a business deal.
“Don’t get me wrong,” says Wendy. “We will always be eternally grateful to Anthea for helping us out of what we believed was a temporary hole.
“We would never have accepted the loan if we were in any doubt about being able to repay it.”
But when the commission – now the subject of impending legal action – was not forthcoming, the Turner Websters were forced to borrow from not only Anthea but also from other family and friends to keep their heads above water.
Wendy says that what she needed from her sister was a bit of compassion.
But what she claims she got was more and more intolerable pressure to repay the debt.
She adds: “She knew we were working hard to achieve that yet she turned the screws tighter and tighter.
“She bombarded us with emails and calls demanding to know when she was going to get her money.
“All we could do was apologise and assure her we were working night and day.
“Gary’s stress levels were through the roof, which concerned me greatly as he’d had a heart attack in 2012.
“I have a history of depression so Anthea’s continual pressure sent me into a downward spiral. Eventually I was taking a dose of Sertraline four times higher than my original prescription.
“Anthea was aware but did nothing to show an ounce of understanding.
I tried to avoid contact with her for my own self-preservation. Then, one day, I realised that if I didn’t sever all links, even temporarily, I wouldn’t be able to withstand the pressure any longer.”
Relations between the sisters hit rock bottom after a newspaper earlier this month claimed Anthea had “furiously cut all contact” after she was forced to pay another £5,000 debt of Wendy’s after acting as guarantor on a flat.
A friend told the paper : “As far as Anthea is concerned, enough is enough.”
But the truth is quite different, says Wendy. “Anthea painted me as some sort of inept wastrel.
“Well, she’s crossed a line and I’m not prepared to stay silent any longer.”
So how did she and Gary got themselves into such a financial pickle?
Wendy: “We had a bad credit rating and wanted to take a lease on a property in West London. The only way was to offer a much bigger deposit.
“We were already paying £35,000 a year for our two sons [Jack, 19 and Freddie 15] at a private school.
"They were doing so well we didn’t want to move them if we could avoid it. Gary and I were both working on and off, although long gone are the fancy sums TV used to pay.
“Our earnings were swallowed up in rent and bills and school fees and ruinous repayments to loan sharks.”
Wendy, desperately worried about money, says she could not believe her sister was adding to the pressure.
The pair had a middle sister, Ruth, born with spina bifida, who died at 15.
Wendy says: “I’d already lost one sister which means Anthea was even more precious to me.
“I’d been jogging along for years feeling love and affection for my surviving sister.
“But the killer blow was that the feeling it was not mutual. When it comes to it, money is apparently more important than blood.”
One result of the bust-up, according to Wendy, has been that parents Brian, 85, and Jean, 88, have become piggy in the middle.
Former teacher Jean had a stroke two-and-a-half years ago.
Wendy says: “I begged them to stay out of my quarrel because I didn’t want them under undue stress.
“Anthea’s always been strong-willed with a fiery disposition although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Look at the success she’s made of herself.
“It’s misplaced, though, when it comes to intolerance in dealing with her own sister.
"What’s more, I think it’s got worse as she’s got older and certainly since her marriage to Grant started going so disastrously wrong.”
Anthea – once dubbed TV’s Golden Girl – has been married twice, first to DJ Peter Powell and then to businessman Grant Bovey, 57. She suffered the humiliation of his affair with Zoe de Mallett Morgan, 26, before they divorced in October 2015.
Throughout that crisis, Wendy says, she was there for her sister, sometimes fielding five or six tearful calls a day and rushing to her flat to hold her hand as she sobbed her heart out.
She remembers: “There was the time I was trying to reach her but she wasn’t reacting. I got really worried. She wouldn’t do something stupid, would she?
“So I drove to her flat and she was all cheery, saying she hadn’t heard the phone because she’d been drying her hair.
"Her mood was up and down all the time. I vividly remember the relief when I realised she was OK.
"But look, I’m not expecting a medal. I did what anyone would do for their sister. She was at her lowest ebb and I made myself available.”
The Turner Webster family still have money coming in.
Wendy is preparing the next series of Crafty Beggars on satellite channel Together TV. She also has a series called Romanian Dog Rescue next spring.
Over Christmas the family will be house-sitting but their poor credit rating means that until recently they have been forced to live in two rooms in a West London Travelodge.
She says: “There were no cooking facilities, so we had to buy prepared meals, and no washing machine.
“The bill was hundreds a week, almost double what we’d pay if we rented somewhere, and we’re also having to pay to keep all our furniture in storage. But at least we’ve been able to stay together as a family.”
And has Anthea been around in Wendy’s hour of need? “Nowhere to be seen,” she says.
“I’m not talking money. I’m talking about the sort of emotional support I gladly gave her when she went through a bad time.”
Supposing the commission Gary claims he is owed suddenly comes through? How would that impact on Wendy’s relationship with her sister?
“If everything between us became bright and bubbly and normal after that, wouldn’t that simply show it was only ever about the money?”
Anthea and her team declined to comment on Wendy’s claims.
However, a close friend said Anthea would be “devastated” to hear her sister’s version of events “when she has consistently supported Wendy financially over decades”.
The friend added: “Their elderly parents will be heartbroken to read Wendy’s twisted version after everything Anthea has done to help”
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