"I've been so lonely…sat in my flat sobbing all night"
TV ANA ON HER SPLIT WITH RADIO BAD BOY MOYLES
They were the one of most unlikely - and happiest - couples in showbiz.
Now children's TV presenter Ana Boulter has spoken for the first time about the heartbreak of splitting with controversial DJ boyfriend, Chris Moyles.
The pair, who lived together on and off, called it a day two months ago. But it's only now that Ana, 25, feels able to talk about it.
"I was terrified at first and I've had some of the loneliest and hardest times," she says. "There have been nights where I've sat in my flat and cried and cried and cried. It's the fear of the unknown. But it lasted only a couple of hours and then I'd pick myself up and get on with it." (btw - Moyles said she said this about CBBC not him)
After three years together, the odd couple - Ana pretty and ever-cheerful on screen, Chris a grumpy, 15 - stone Radio 1 star - made the agonising decision to go their separate ways after a boozy night out.
"We just turned into best friends and the passion fizzled out," she says. "There was no argument - we were drunk one night and we just got round to the subject. You always want a relationship to work and I wish it had, but it would have been sadder if we'd lost everything - and we haven't."
After so long together, Ana isn't ready to cut all the ties with the 27-year-old Chris yet. They live close to each other in Belsize Park, North London, and meet up several times a week. They're together so often, many of their mates didn't realise they weren't an item anymore.
"We didn't tell anyone for ages because we didn't want the added pressure of people asking us about it," Ana says. "In fact, the next day we met for a coffee and went shopping.
"We've remained best friends and it will be very hard for the person who goes out with Chris or myself because we still get on so well.
"We still bicker, we still go to the pub and do stuff together. The transition has been really easy and we are both very happy.
It is pointless being friends for all that time and then never speaking to each other again. I didn't leave my boyfriend because I didn't like him; I just took stock of my life.
"If I'm going to do anything, I have to be totally committed to it and if I'm not committed I move on. Luckily I love change. I have a low boredom threshold and I thrive on excitement. The minute that goes, I have to change things."
Despite the trauma of her break-up, Ana remains optimistic that 2002 might be the year she meets Mr Right: "I am so excited. I'm ready to meet someone new and it's like I'm starting all over again.
"There's another man out there for me. I'm on the market, somebody take me!"
The quest for a new man isn't the only reason Ana's embracing the New Year. She made another life-changing decision in 2001, to leave the security of her job at the BBC and try her hand at other broadcasting work.
For three years, she'd been the smiling face of Children's BBC (CBBC), presenting morning and afternoon links on BBC1 and 2 six days a week. Kids loved her but she grew frustrated with her squeaky-clean, girl-next-door image.
When she insisted on choosing her own, sexier, on-screen clothes, there were letters of complaint from parents. But increasingly she felt that the look BBC bosses had created for her was a false one.
As our exclusive pictures show, Ana loves showing off her grown-up side. "I would have been sacked if I'd posed for sexy pictures like this at the BBC but this is the real me," she says. "Near the end, I was fighting a constant battle. I'd been there long enough - I started at 21 - and I didn't want to be a children's presenter all my life. I'd grown up. You have to make to watch your lifestyle if you're a children's TV presenter. If I went to a party, I'd have to make sure I didn't show any cleavage or be photographed with a glass of wine.
"I'm not saying I wanted to take my clothes off and run round in the street but I'm certainly not squeaky-clean and and that was the image I had to keep up.
"They wanted me in sporty, casual clothes and I preferred nice little tops and high heels. I'd get fan mail from the dads but mums would regularly complain that there was too much on show for their kids.
"I never showed off my cleavage but even if you wore a vest top, it was considered too much flesh.
"I don't think you should dress 25-year-old women in bunches and T-shirts and try to make them look like they're children. They're not. They're women, they have boobs and you can't hide that. I had to bite my tongue and do what they said but, in the end, it wasn't fair on them or me."
Ana's feet had also got itchier after working as a presenter on digital television car show Top Gear Gti: "The more I did of that, the more I released I wanted to leave CBBC."
But it was a risky move. She says: "I had nothing specific to go to and it was a real gamble. I gave up all my security in one year.
"People assume that when you're a TV presenter, you earn loads of money, get offered loads of work and go to showbusiness parties the whole time. It's not like that - there have been weeks when I've not known when the next money is coming in."
So far, things seem to be going to the plans that star-struck Ana made as a little girl growing up in the village of Southwell, Nottinghamshire. She took a degree in broadcast journalism before landing a job at a local radio station. She stayed a year but sent tapes to every TV station in the country. The BBC invited her for an audition and she was offered a job.
That talent and drive are now helping her branch out into grown-up TV and radio. She works on entertainment show Liquid News and has ended up following Chris into radio on London talk-based station LBC.
But she insists she won't be copying his outspoken style. Chris's afternoon show has seen him reprimanded by the Broadcasting Standards Commission and hauled before BBC bosses several times, for bad language and abusive remarks.
Ana says: "I don't want to be one of those shock DJs who swears and says controversial things.
"Chris is brilliant but I think there's only room for one of him and a female version doesn't bear thinking about!" She says Chris is very supportive about her change of career. He was away when her first radio show was broadcast but had a friend tape it.
"He said that he was worried I would either put on a posh voice or be really girly. He also said that if I opened the window, I would double the audience! He has teased me a lot but he has actually been very encouraging."
Ana hopes the New Year will bring her more success and put her back on main stream television.
"I've learnt a lot this year and I'm excited about the future, although I'll not look back on the last 12 months with particular fondness.
"Both splits were amicable - I didn't leave my job because I hated it - but I was quite happy to put 2001 to bed.
"Now I'm ready for a new start."