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Minding Your Money

Actor Gary Webster
Gary Webster now advises others about managing debt
He may be a television star but actor Gary Webster knows a great deal about what it is like to go through a financial nightmare.

After years of extravagant spending, the actor's lifestyle caught up with him and he had to declare himself bankrupt.

He has since learned the hard way about how to survive on a budget.

At the height of his career, Gary Webster was known to millions of viewers as the star of the hit television show Minder and enjoying the celebrity lifestyle that went with it.

"When I got the role of Minder, it was quite a big public event. Obviously it was such a loved programme. It was fantastic."

But Gary fell into the trap of living beyond his means and was immediately playing catch up with his finances.

"My first year's wages were absolutely awful but I was living the life of a great TV star you could say.

"I knew we were going to do a second series and I thought I'll spend it all now and I'll pay it back when I get the second series money, because that will improve."

The High Life

He married his wife, the television presenter Wendy Turner, at the Ritz in London in November 2000. It was a lavish affair to which they invited 350 of their 'closest friends'.

He admits now that the extravagance got out of hand but it was symbolic of the way he was living his life then.

"The Wedding cost an arm and a leg which was paid for by a magazine. We had a fantastic time, lived it to the full, generous to everyone.

Gary and his wife Wendy Turner on their wedding day
Gary's wedding was a lavish affair held at The Ritz

"I just didn't think about the consequences of not putting enough away for tax."

His financial mismanagement became apparent when several previous years tax bills started mounting up. "I was opening them and realising that these demands were from two or three years ago.

"And then I got into this scenario which a lot of people have spoken to me about, which is, if I don't address it, it might just go away. And of course it doesn't go away"

Rock Bottom

Gary's problems came to a head when the bailiffs came thumping on their door demanding money for unpaid bills. He and his wife were thousands of pounds in debt and eventually he declared himself bankrupt in 2005.

To add to his woes, the show he had been working on, Channel Five's Family Affairs, was axed at the same time.

His troubles continued when a year later, his home was repossessed.

Moving On

Gary and his family now live in a rented house in Surrey. The positive outcome of his experiences is that he has learned to appreciate the value of money and realises he can still have a good time without spending extravagantly.

"Last year we were tightening the belt a little and so went camping. And we had one of the best family holidays probably the boys have ever had. So I realise that you don't have to keep up with the Joneses.

"One has to live according to one's means, and not beyond."

BBC Breakfast


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