Gogglebox favourite Sandra Martin has become ‘homeless and penniless’ just days before Christmas.
Since the 55-year-old quit the popular Channel 4 show, she moved out of her house into a budget hotel before going into temporary accommodation.
Now things have gone from bad to worse for the mum-of-four who is having to charge fans £1 for a selfie being so desperate for cash on the brink of becoming homeless.
Although Sandra is expected to appear in Celebrity Big Brother next year, for now she is having to rely on friends for money as she had to withdraw from an Aladdin panto after going on stage drunk.
Being axed from the show, Sandra claims that she left the panto due to problems with her high blood pressure.
Opening up about her struggles which Sandra admits started with Gogglebox, she told The Daily Star:
I have no money coming in. It’s scary.
I’d never had any money. I was a full-time grandmother looking after my grand-daughter, so when I suddenly found myself coming off benefits and earning all this money it freaked me out.
I told them straight, ‘that is way too much money for me to handle’.
So to help me out they would use the money to pay my rent, my electric, my gas, council tax, all the bills.
Then they’d give me the rest, but even that was more than I’d ever had.
All my friends were on benefits, so when I got Gogglebox it was like I’d won the jackpot.
If one of my friends needed £100 then I’d give it to them. I’d always be getting the drinks in and buying the food.
I didn’t mind at first but then people started taking advantage, so I had to get out.
I moved three times while I was on Gogglebox just to get away, which still breaks my heart. There are people who were my friends for more than 30 years who don’t speak to me anymore.
Sandra, who was jailed for six months for fraud in 1984, quit the show earlier this year after appearing on it for nearly four years being an original star.
Her partner on the sofa, best friend Sandi, had already left being replaced by Sandra’s daughter Chanchez.
Sandra reveals it was at this point that she realised it just wasn’t working any more admitting:
Some of the programmes we had to watch were about sex. I felt very uncomfortable – I couldn’t talk about sex with my daughter.
I don’t have that kind of relationship with my children.
I’d also seen how well Sandi was doing and other people like Steph and Dom and of course Scarlett (Moffatt), so I decided to take the chance and leave.
There was no way I was going back on benefits.
However, things didn’t work out the way Sandra expected them to and before long she had moved into a budget hotel unable to afford the monthly bills at her rented house.
It meant I didn’t have to worry about paying all the bills. I thought it was the best thing to do to survive, living out of my suitcase. I’ve really been trying my best.
She remains optimistic though hoping things will turn around after she follows in the footsteps of Sandi appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.
I’ve still got hope that something will come up next year. I’ve been talking to Sandi. She’s always looked out for me, and we’d love to be reunited on TV.
The dream would be to have my own chat show. I never thought I’d find fame in my 50s, so who knows what might happen next year?
I’m a positive person. And I’ve got my kids and my grandkids, as well as my fans, who keep me smiling.
As long as she keeps her chin up, I am sure Sandra will be fine.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.