Paddy McGuinness’ marriage was rocked when his wife found Instagram messages from the Top Gear host to a BBC presenter, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The 48-year-old TV star, who made a name for himself on the dating show Take Me Out, reportedly exchanged a series of messages with the woman in March, shortly before he and his wife Christine decided to live separate lives.
The couple officially announced last week that they had separated after 11 years of marriage.
Although there is no suggestion the messages went beyond friendship, informed sources said Ms McGuinness, 34, was distraught after finding them on her phone.
A friend of Christine McGuinness has said the ‘direct messages’ between her TV host husband, Paddy, 48, and a BBC presenter were ‘one of the driving forces’ for the breakdown of their marriage.
A friend said: ‘Paddy had been messaging the woman for some time. They were direct messages and were quite friendly.
“It’s unclear how they met, but they followed each other for a while.
“There were various issues between him and Christine, but that was definitely one of the driving forces that started to make them evaluate their future as a married couple.”
Speaking to The Sun this month on Sunday, Ms McGuinness hinted at serious tension in the marriage, adding: “I don’t want to say too much but I will just say I didn’t cause this situation. ”
“You have to expect that when you’ve been together for so long. Everyone grows and changes, and we’ve grown as a family, which is amazing.
“That family bond will always be there no matter what.
The couple, pictured last October at the 2021 Pride of Britain Awards, announced on Friday that they had separated after 11 years of marriage, but would still be living together for their children
‘Difficult’: Paddy and Christine shared joint statements on Instagram on Friday explaining that they still live happily together in their family home and their main goal is to love and support their three children
“But I was a teenager when I met him and I’m a 34-year-old woman now, so I guess what I could have put up with in the past, I probably wouldn’t now – and the same. for him.’
The couple announced on Instagram on Friday that they have decided to go their separate ways, but will still be living together in their £2.1million home in Cheshire for the sake of their autistic children – twins Leo and Penelope , nine, and Felicity, six.
They said they had lived separate lives for some time.
Christine appeared on the Lorraine show earlier this month and opened up about her marriage
“Some time ago we made the difficult decision to go our separate ways, but our main goal, as always, is to continue to love and support our children,” they said.
“It was not an easy decision to make, but we are moving forward as the best parents we can be to our three beautiful children.
“We will always be a loving family, we will always have a great relationship and will always live happily together in our family home.”
Christine’s friends say she has ‘found confidence’ after appearing on ITV show The Games
Friends of Ms McGuinness, who was also diagnosed with autism last year, say the cracks in the relationship deepened as her husband’s success grew.
In 2018 he was named one of three Top Gear hosts – along with Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris – and last year started hosting Question Of Sport.
For her part, friends say Ms McGuinness, a former beauty queen who starred in a documentary with her husband last year to raise autism awareness, has become more confident after taking part in The Games this year, a reality sports game show on ITV.
“Christine found confidence in the Games,” said one.
“She felt like she was finally doing something for herself and she made some really good friends. She was very comfortable before that, watching Paddy have a successful career.
“It was wonderful to see her reunite.”
Ms McGuinness has also signed with a different agent to her husband and is due to present a BBC documentary exploring the rise in the number of adult women diagnosed with autism.
But sources say growing work commitments meant the pair were spending less time together.