Fed up, she persuaded a cameraman to film her and made her own showreel, sending it off to television companies. Spotting her exuberant talent, Porter was hired by Scottish Television and soon secured a job presenting cartoons on TV which led to her ‘Fully Booked gig’ on BBC.
Tiring of the children's television presenting jobs, Porter aimed for a mature, sexy new image and quickly became a favourite of the lads’ mags.
She got a job presenting on ‘Live and Kicking’, was a guest host on ‘Melinda's Big Night In’, and host of ‘The Movie Chart Show’. She was an occasional presenter on ‘Top of the Pops’ and eventually got her own show, ‘Gail's Big Nineties’, on VH1.
The move to London sent her star rising but the pressure took its toll. Not knowing what job she would be doing from one gig to the next made Porter feel unstable. She said the only control she had over herself was food intake and she developed anorexia, weighing six and a half stone at one point.
A massive turnaround in image came after a risqué photo-shoot in GQ that catapulted her to notoriety and fame. The magazine cover showed Porter naked, bum to the camera, and was projected onto the House of Commons in London.
Meanwhile, her psyche was taking a knock and she has admitted that once, on holiday in the Maldives, she needed 10 stitches to repair a wound she had made with the saw attachment of a Swiss Army knife.
After a whirlwind romance, Porter married Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave in 2001. The pair had a daughter, Honey, the following year after which Porter suffered post-natal depression. The celebrity couple separated in 2004 and it was Porter’s ensuing battle with stress, drugs and depression that doctors say triggered alopecia causing her to lose all of the hair on her head and body.
The messy divorce also led to a suicide attempt. She mixed pills with vodka while Honey, then two, was at nursery school. She has since been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is characterised by periods of depression and mania.
Porter refused to wear a hat or wig, deciding instead to maintain a public profile and raise awareness of the hair loss condition which she has written about in her autobiography, ‘Laid Bare - My Story of Love, Fame and Survival’.