How I beat the trolls! Viciously attacked online after winning I’m A Celeb, Scarlett Moffatt is now helping others cope with stress in her new show
- Scarlett Moffatt became national sweetheart when she appeared on Gogglebox
- The 32-year-old has now opened up about her self-esteem and life challenges
- READ MORE: The one lesson I’ve learned from life: English TV personality Scarlett Moffatt says don’t let body fears hold you back
Almost a decade has passed since Scarlett Moffatt became a national sweetheart for her quick wit and bubbly personality on Gogglebox.
But it’s only now, at the age of 32, that she feels she’s conquered the self-esteem issues that have plagued her and is truly happy in her own skin – so much so that she’s keen to help others overcome their own life challenges.
After making a Channel 4 documentary about Tourette’s syndrome and becoming an ambassador for the Samaritans, she’s let the cameras follow her on her 14th attempt to pass her driving test, while also trying to help others who’ve failed multiple times too.
For the new ten-part BBC1 series, Scarlett’s Driving School, she runs a five-day intensive course for motorists in Teesside, near where she grew up in County Durham.
It’s not just about the test, but about relationships and taking the heat and stress out of life too. Each week one learner attends with a long-suffering family member or friend who’s taken on the role of instructor, with little luck.
Scarlett Moffatt became a national sweetheart a decade ago when she appeared on Gogglebox, for her quick wit and bubbly personality
Grandmother Linda, 56, is desperate to get a licence so she can help look after her grandchildren, but has failed her test six times. Her younger sister Debbie, 53, is coaching her, but after three years in the car together both are at the end of their tether.
Jess, 25, has been learning for eight years, and now some professional instructors will no longer get in a car with her. Stepdad Richard is her last chance.
Meanwhile, dyslexic builder Garry, 55, has been relying on his wife Jeany to take him everywhere for 30 years, but she’s had an accident and he needs to get his licence so he can help her out.
How do they get on? After a series of dual-carriageway stalls, burnt-out handbrakes, near-misses and navigational nightmares, the learners manage to overcome their problems and forge deeper bonds with their nearest and dearest.
‘It was such a supportive group where everyone was open and honest because there was no judgment,’ says Scarlett. ‘We were all struggling together.
‘I use humour as a defence mechanism but it was becoming embarrassing that I hadn’t passed my test. I even had to ring a mate to take me to the station to go to the BAFTAs.
And I had to make a conscious effort to date people who could drive, otherwise we’d be getting the bus everywhere. But now I’ve passed I think that’s the last box to tick to feel like an adult.’
Scarlett was first bullied as a child, to the point where she’d eat her lunch in the toilets, after a road accident left her with Bell’s palsy causing one side of her face to droop. Yet in 2014 she found herself on national TV when Gogglebox launched.
‘If they hadn’t offered my dad £50 and a free takeaway to go on the show I don’t think we’d have done it,’ she laughs.
‘But he said, “What’s the worst that can happen? It means we get to sit down as a family and make memories in front of the telly.”’
For the new ten-part BBC1 series, Scarlett’s Driving School, she runs a five-day intensive course for motorists in Teesside, near where she grew up in County Durham
She won I’m A Celebrity in 2016, but became the target of shocking online trolling attacking the way she looked, dressed and spoke. When she released an exercise DVD in 2016, trolls said she was too thin and a terrible role model.
Scarlett found it hard to tell anyone how isolated she felt, and was racked with guilt because from the outside it looked like she was living a dream life. She stopped leaving the house and spent hours on social media apps, torturing herself by reading the cruel comments written about her.
It’s ironic that she first came across the Samaritans on Instagram, when someone she followed mentioned them. In a moment of bravery she called them for help and now she’s an ambassador.
‘Anybody who picks up the phone or asks for help, it’s the bravest thing you can do,’ she says. ‘Sometimes people think it means they’re weak, but it’s actually the opposite.
‘I love being a Samaritans ambassador because it’s such a wonderful charity. Giving them a call can really affect the route you take.’
Winner of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! 2016 Scarlett Moffatt. Yet shortly after she became the target of trolling online
Today she’s never felt happier. ‘I still have days when I question myself but I’d say that 99 per cent of the time I’m really confident in who I am.
‘I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to enjoy it more because nothing can prepare you for being catapulted into this weird world of fame.
‘I now understand myself and my feelings. I even feel a little bit invincible because I know the steps now to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
‘I use my platform to help people understand they can get through things. When you’re sad, sometimes you don’t think you’ll ever be happy again, but I promise you can be.
‘I look back now and there were times when I thought, “I’ve got to be this person and fit into this box.” I worried about whether people liked me or not. Now I walk into a room and I think, “Do I like them?”’
- Scarlett’s Driving School, Monday, 8.30pm, BBC1.
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