Just as she knew her first London home was the one, Gail can tell when something’s amiss (Picture: Getty / Discovery + / Really UK / Metro.co.uk)
Gail Porter, 51, is a Scottish actress, television personality and is vice-president of The Children’s Trust, a charity that helps children with brain injuries.
Her new series, Spooked Scotland, hits television screens later this month and sees Gail exploring properties throughout her native Scotland with American medium, Chris Fleming. She lives in north-west London.
Tell us about the first home you bought…
I bought my first property with my ex-husband [Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave] when we first got married. It was in Belsize Park and I just absolutely loved that house.
I walked in the door and pretty much put an offer in as we were standing in the hallway because, I just knew when I was standing there, it that was the house for us. It wasn’t grand or fancy but I had an immediate connection with the property.
I got a really strong feeling that it was right. And owning our own property was just the most awesome feeling.
Dan said, “You can’t put an offer in that quick,” but I just knew and I said straight off, “I’m buying this house.” It had a lovely patio garden and pretty bedrooms. It didn’t need much doing to it – just decorating, painting and cosmetic work. I loved it exactly as it was.
What made you choose that part of London?
I can only say I just loved that house. I get quite emotional even thinking about it now. We got divorced in 2005 and divorce is expensive so we had to sell it and, today, I rent in Willesden Green.
Before buying that house in Belsize Park, I’d been living in Soho, which I absolutely loved. It was like my spiritual home, but the area of Belsize Park also drew me in because, although it seems very different, it’s all about people, isn’t it?
Soho and Belsize Park were full of wonderful characters and there was a lovely sense of community and that’s as important as the house itself, don’t you think?
Is London home for you now?
I’ve lived here for years and I’ll probably always live here but I’m originally from Edinburgh, which is a fabulous city.
I still call that home even though I’ve been in London for so long now, but it’s so expensive I can hardly afford to go back anymore. I looked at booking an Airbnb up there last year and it’s just gone mad. It is fabulous, though.
How would you describe your perfect day at home?
In my Grinch pyjamas, candles lit, curled up on the sofa, watching Better Call Saul. I’m a real homebody. I used to have a cat who sadly isn’t here anymore but was always by my side.
Gail bought her first home with ex-husband Dan Hipgrave (Picture: Neil Hope / Rex Features)
Catch Gail’s spooky new property show (Picture: Discovery Communications / Really UK)
Tell us about the places in Spooked Scotland?
I spent time in loads of properties across Scotland with Chris and he was, of course, really open to it all.
I started out a sceptic though, I tell you, there is something in those houses. You can feel it and get a sense of something.
A bit like when I first walked into that first home in Belsize Park and I got a sense it was the house for me, I knew walking in those places there was something, a presence or spirit.
More: My First Home
The first episode shows me in Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran. And when they told me I was staying the night there I was totally freaked out.
I swear to you, I went to bed in a room with a small living room attached to it and I shut the door to that room when I went to bed. When I woke up, that same door was wide open.
I went out of that place screaming like a crazy, bald, wild woman. I couldn’t get checked out quick enough!
I feel like I’m slightly more in tune with the energy and spirits you can feel in houses now from doing that show.
Spooked Scotland is on Fridays on Really, and available to stream on Discovery+.
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