The news came just a few days after Christmas. At first, Lisa Armstrong managed to convince herself that this was just another gossip – after all, there had been plenty of such gossip in the five years since she split from her ex-husband, TV presenter Ant McPartlin.
Like millions of people, Lisa, a make-up artist who was with TV’s troubled golden boy for 23 years, read the story in Mail Online.
But it can’t be true, right? Ant, her former soulmate who she had fallen in love with when they were both teenagers, wouldn’t be so cruel, right?
However, look at the photos of Ant, 48, and his new wife, former assistant Anne-Marie Corbett, 46, happily bantering with paparazzi and other tourists at Heathrow Airport, on their way back from Dubai after some winter sun. Lisa gradually realized that she probably could do it.
Rumors had been circulating for a few weeks that Ant and Anne-Marie were expecting their first child together and judging by Anne-Marie’s rounder figure and revealing baggy jumper, it looked like the talk might be true.
Baby Bump: Ant with Anne Marie at Heathrow Airport last month – The image that broke Lisa’s heart
This week, those rumors were confirmed when friends of the couple announced that they were “beyond thrilled” to be expecting a baby in June.
But for Lisa, who had desperately wanted and tried for years to have a baby with Ant and had supported him through his struggles with alcohol, depression and prescription drug addiction, it was almost certainly the most devastating part of their divorce. . .
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking and painful for Lisa that after everything Ant put her through, he didn’t tell her she was expecting a baby,” a close friend told me.
‘Ant didn’t even have the decency to let Lisa know. Like the rest of the world, she had to read about it on the news and you can only imagine what a shock that must have been for her.
“It is quite difficult to understand that someone with whom you have shared so much does not tell you something that he knew very well would become a huge, huge story in the press.
‘It’s a horrible shame that Lisa had to find out like this. You can imagine how hard that would affect her. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Lisa is notoriously secretive, despite refusing to sign the non-disclosure agreement Ant wanted her to sign, so we can only guess at the level of shock and betrayal she must have felt. Especially since, for so many years, she and Ant had desperately wanted to be parents.
In fact, in 2013, shortly before his showbiz partner Declan Donnelly met his wife Ali Astall, Ant revealed how he and Lisa were having fertility issues, saying: “There’s a rumor that I’m putting off having kids until May Dec find himself Mrs. Right.” I love that idea, but I’m afraid it’s not true.
‘Lisa and I would love to have children. We are trying. It’s harder than you think when you’re a little older.’
Sadly, that was never the case and once they turned 40 they accepted that they were not meant to have a family and instead got their beloved chocolate Labrador, Hurley, who Lisa refers to as her “baby.”
The friend told the Mail: ‘Lisa had spent her entire adult life with Ant. He was all she knew and they really hoped to have children. Lisa didn’t expect Ant to go ahead and have a baby, so this really affected her a lot.
‘She went through a lot with him and gave him a lot, but she is the one who will spend the rest of her life childless, not Ant.
“It’s the kind of thing you never get over.”
As if the situation couldn’t get any more difficult for Lisa, she and Anne-Marie were once friends. Anne-Marie was Ant’s personal assistant and spent a lot of time at the McPartlin home in west London.
Friends of Lisa, who is the successful head of makeup on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, say she was “very kind” to Anne-Marie. She was employed by Ant’s talent agency, YMU, and Lisa and Ant were keen to make her feel “at home” with her work.
Wedding day: Ant and Lisa in 2006
Lisa with her Labrador Hurley
Anne-Marie separated from her husband Scott, with whom she has two daughters, in October 2017, shortly before Ant and Lisa’s marriage fell apart.
The split was difficult for Lisa, friends say, especially because she suddenly found herself in the awkward position of having the world investigate her marriage and her private life even though she never asked for fame.
When their divorce was finalized in 2018, leading to a multimillion-dollar payout for Lisa, a friend tells me there was a time when she was the second most Googled woman in Britain, behind only Meghan Markle.
Scrutiny increased further when, in April 2018, Anne-Marie was spotted walking Hurley – a cruel blow for Lisa.
Shortly after, Anne-Marie and Ant were photographed together, and their status as a couple was confirmed in 2019 when she joined him in Australia, along with their children, where he presented I’m A Celeb.
They married in August 2021 in a star-studded wedding at the five-star Heckfield Place in Hampshire.
The fact that Ant still longs to have children was evident even in her boyfriend’s speech when he said that Anne-Marie’s teenage daughters call him “dad”.
“For her, the relationship between Ant and Anne-Marie came out of nowhere,” says an associate of Lisa. ‘Things started to change, in retrospect. There were times when Anne-Marie even seemed to dress like Lisa, but she didn’t expect them to get together.
‘To think that she is now going to have Ant’s baby is a lot to understand. Lisa tries her best to keep to herself, but she’s experienced a lot in their 23 years together.
Ant and Lisa met almost 30 years ago, when they were 18 and 19, and were on the music circuit.
At the time, Lisa was in a band called Deuce, while Ant and Dec were carving out careers as a pop duo, PJ and Duncan, their characters from Byker Grove, the children’s television drama.
They immediately hit it off and soon their romance became public. And even though Lisa’s band wasn’t exactly a huge success, she became one of the most written about women in the UK.
She then moved in with Ant at his house next to Dec in Chiswick, west London, and was by the star’s side as he became one half of the country’s best-loved entertainment acts.
The couple married in the summer of 2006 at Cliveden House, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, with Dec acting as best man.
However, at some point, things began to fall apart for the couple as Ant battled various addictions and demons.
He initially began taking legally prescribed painkillers after a serious knee injury in 2014 and a botched operation the following year. However, over time, his dependence on drugs, along with alcohol, began to spiral out of control.
It was a torrid time for Lisa. At the time, she confided to her friends that she spent “two years of hell” fighting to keep her husband Ant on track. A friend tells me: ‘Lisa went through hell for the last two years she and Ant were together.
She wasn’t sure if her marriage would survive, but she supported him in trying to save it. It has been very hard for her.
“Ant was in such a bad situation that he often feared the situation was unsustainable.”
Friends said Lisa begged her husband to seek professional help and had begged him not to leave the house when she wanted to go out drinking.
‘It was a very difficult time for Lisa, it lasted a long time. She loved him deeply and wanted to make him better, but she was open with her friends and said that she didn’t see how the marriage could survive.
But she made her vows and she wasn’t going to give them up. Lisa did a lot for Ant. She tried pretty much everything she could to help, but the situation continued and she continued.
‘The hardest thing for her was to give in and admit that the marriage was over. She is a wonderful woman who was determined to save her husband. She’s so brave.’
In 2017, Ant finally sought help and entered a rehabilitation center. But it was too late for her marriage. Six months later, in March 2018, Ant’s life hit a new low when he was arrested and charged with drink-driving after his Mini collided with two other cars in west London.
Ant, who at the time was earning £130,000 a week, was fined £86,000 and banned from driving for 20 months after pleading guilty to drink-driving.
He said he was “really sorry” for driving more than twice the legal limit.
Witnesses described how his black Mini collided with another Mini Cooper before driving directly in front of an oncoming BMW, with a doctor and her nine-year-old son on board.
Although no one was seriously injured, the driver of the other Mini was said to be in “deep shock” and said he believed he may have died in the crash.
Ant later pulled out of presenting the ITV reality series I’m A Celebrity alongside Dec in Australia, making way for Holly Willoughby to take over temporarily.
While Lisa, despite being offered a multitude of opportunities to tell her side of the story, has remained silent on the matter, their split remains bitter and ongoing. She may have two new dogs, Maltipoos (Maltese-poodle crosses), named Milo and Bumble, but Ant still won’t let Lisa have Hurley full-time.
The couple agreed to share the dog after their marriage collapsed, but Lisa wants Hurley to live with her alone. However, Ant is understood to be refusing to give up joint custody.
The dog currently spends half his time at Ant’s £6million mansion in Wimbledon, south-west London, and the other half at Lisa’s home in west London, and the chauffeur reportedly of the TV host makes the delivery so the exes don’t have to see each other. other.
A makeup artist friend added: ‘Lisa is one of the strongest women you can imagine, but a couple of years ago cracks showed and she was no longer herself.
“Back then it was clear that there were problems that were getting her down, but she didn’t want to give up Ant.
‘She’s been to hell and back for the past few years. “We all wanted to lift her up in her arms and give her a big hug.”
If there was ever a time Lisa needed one of those, it’s now.