SCARLETT Moffatt’s extraordinary rise to stardom had read like a fairytale.
The axed retail worker becomes reality show princess, then ITV’s Queen of the Jungle and rising telly star.
Brian Roberts – The Sun Scarlett Moffatt went from axed retail worker to Gogglebox star and then Queen of the Jungle
Louis Wood – The Sun Scarlett gave her most personal interview ever to The Sun’s Dan Wootton
That was until the down-to-earth Geordie was romantically linked to her mentor Ant McPartlin and slammed for gaining weight in a celebrity fitness DVD scandal.
The vicious public reaction caused the former Gogglebox star to suffer panic attacks and move back to Newcastle, too anxious to even leave the family home.
But today, in her most personal interview ever, the 27-year-old sets the record straight about all those headline-grabbing scandals and reveals how she is turning her mental health around.
But first, what about those internet rumours that Scarlett was dating Ant after starting work on Saturday Night Takeaway, despite courting her now boyfriend Lee Wilkinson?
Scarlett was recently hit by rumours she was dating mentor Ant McPartlin
She says matter of factly: “Well it wasn’t true so, honestly, I always think, ‘Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind’.
“My family and friends knew, so no it didn’t really enter my head.”
Scarlett believes the rumour “came about from tweets”, adding with frustration: “I do love a conspiracy theory myself, but I’m more of an alien, mermaid sort of conspiracy girl.”
Twitter exploded when the pair sat next to each other at the NTAs in January.
‘Ant was always in back of our minds’
She laughs, then says sarcastically: “I sat next to Dec as well.
“I mean, I don’t know if people realise this but we were on the same show.
Rex Features Scarlett joined Ant and Dec at the NTA awards back in January
“So we were all sat together because Saturday Night Takeaway was up for an award, which we won.”
The so-called scandal was exacerbated when Scarlett then posted a photo of her bedroom featuring a framed picture of Ant and – she points out – Dec filming at Disney World, Florida in 2017. She refuses to take it down to this day.
She says proudly: “It’s a picture of me as Mary Poppins. It even beats me in the jungle, like the highlight of my working life.
“To do the Saturday Night Takeaway finale in Disney World, honestly, was my dream.
“So every morning when I wake up and see that photo, I’m like, ‘I’m living my dream’.”
Just weeks later, Ant’s drink-drive conviction would plunge Takeaway into chaos, resulting in Dec presenting solo for the final two weeks, supported by Stephen Mulhern and an emotional Scarlett.
Opening up in the new episode of The Dan Wootton Interview – which you can subscribe to for free on iTunes and Apple Podcasts – she says: “We just all missed him.
PA:Press Association Scarlett joined Dec and Stephen Mulhern for the SNT finale in Orlando
“But we wanted to give the viewers a show.
“Ant was always in the back of our minds because we all love him, as the viewers do.
“He’s just such an amazing soul, an amazing person.”
Becoming the sidekick of her TV heroes had been Scarlett’s dream job.
She enthuses: “That’s what every Northern person wants. It is mad, they’re just so lovely. I’ve got the best mentors in TV ever.
“Obviously this job has negatives, every job does, it’s just that the positives outweigh the negatives.
Louis Wood – The Sun Scarlett says the positives outweigh the negatives in her job
“So every day on that show, I would go in to rehearse or script meetings and I’d be thinking, ‘I cannot believe that this is my job’.”
Not bad for the star of a Channel 4 show that started as a humble, televised social experiment.
She recalls: “When I first asked to do Gogglebox I never ever thought it would amount to this.
“I didn’t even really dare dream about it because you’re like, ‘Well, it could never happen’.”
In fact, when Scarlett was first approached by I’m A Celebrity producers, who contacted her via email after being impressed by her one-liners and bubbly personality on Gogglebox, she didn’t even have an agent.
She recalls: “That was actually the first time I’d ever been to London.
“There was no reason for us to come down here – and I was so excited. I felt like Dick Whittington. Mum made us a packed lunch.”
Handout Scarlett was first approached by I’m A Celebrity producers, who contacted her via email after seeing her on Gogglebox
Before she won the hearts of the nation with her stint in the jungle in 2016, Scarlett signed up to make a fitness DVD, which saw her shrink from a size 18 to eight after sticking to a 700-calorie-per-day diet.
But when her weight increased to a more achievable size 12, it sparked a row with the DVD company, revealed by The Sun on Sunday, and a wider debate about the authenticity of celeb fitness DVDs.
For Scarlett, it was clear her dramatic weight loss was not sustainable.
She says: “I was so focused on staying slim I stopped being sociable.
“I was like, ‘I can’t drink this then I’ll be hungover and I’ll want to eat a McDonald’s breakfast the next day,’ so I never really got into a good routine.
“Whereas now I like going to the gym but I also like going for food.
“So for me, it’s not necessarily that I’m the most happy with my body, I’m just happy with life.
“I’ve got the balance right.”
Scarlett shrunk from a size 18 to eight after sticking to a 700-calorie-per-day diet
Scarlett is currently in training for the Great North Run in September, and insists: “Just because you don’t look a certain way doesn’t mean you’re unfit.
“So I still go to the gym. I can walk upstairs and not get out of breath, so I must be doing alright.”
And despite the scandal, Scarlett is confident that there are positives to come out of her SuperSlim Me DVD.
She argues: “It can never be a bad thing encouraging people to exercise.
“Even if someone did that DVD once a week and that was more exercise than they were doing before, it can only be a good thing.”
The reaction from online trolls towards Scarlett at the height of the scandal was beyond cruel.
The nadir for Scarlett was when she was accused of photoshopping her pictures on social media.
But her SuperSlim Me DVD has since come under criticism
‘I didn’t want to go out, I felt safe at home’
She says: “I purposely never edit photos.
“I put up lots of photos with no make-up because it’s really important that people see this is what I actually look like.
“I’ve still got spots and stuff like the rest of us.
“It was actually sad, I wasn’t even wanting to go out. I was just wanting to stay in.
“I thought, ‘Well, if I’m in the house I’m safe, no one is going to say anything.
Getty – Contributor Scarlett says she never retouches the photos she posts to social media
“I don’t know if people think this is a compliment but I get a lot of people coming up to me saying, ‘God, you’re not as fat in real life’. And I’m like, ‘Thank you, I think that’s a thank you’.”
I reached out to Scarlett at the time when I learned that she was planning to miss the National Television Awards because she was too nervous to walk the red carpet.
The pep talk appeared to work.
“I wanted to say thank you because you were one of the reasons that I went to the NTAs,” she tells me. “I was like, ‘I might never get this opportunity again’.”
Even before she became a household name, Scarlett suffered from mental health issues prompted by the pressures of social media like so many other young women today.
Instagram Scarlett’s anxiety meant she nearly missed out attending the National Television Awards
She explains: “A lot of it is to do with social media but it wasn’t talked about when I was young.
“Me and me Mam have discussed it quite a bit and I think I’ve probably suffered from anxiety and panic attacks since I was 12.”
Scarlett still has her moments when the anxiety takes hold.
She says: “The last time I felt really scared, and I’m being really honest here, was when I was meant to see Ed Sheeran on Friday.
“I got really anxious about it because it was at St James’s Park and I didn’t end up going. I let fear get the best of us.
“I should have gone.”
PA Scarlett says she still has her moments when the anxiety takes hold