Clare Balding on how she managed to bounce back from teen shoplifting scandal

Clare Balding on how she turned shoplifting scandal into a positive in her life

Believes she is proof people can reinvent themselves

Clare Balding is regarded as a national treasure of TV broadcasting, but she was once in trouble for shoplifting!

Clare, 51, is on the box this weekend as BBC One airs a repeat of Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel.

She appears as a celebrity expert guiding contestants alongside the likes of Anton Du Beke, Rob Rinder and Alex Beresford.

But away from her advisory role on game shows, Clare believes her teenage experience of shoplifting could also help direct others.

Clare Balding and Alice Arnold married in 2015
Clare Balding and Alice Arnold married in 2015. They have appeared on Gogglebox together (Credit: Channel 4)

What has Clare Balding said about her shoplifting?

Clare reflected in the summer of 2021 with MailOnline on being punished for shoplifting.

She explained she was suspended from boarding school after pinching from a local village shop. According to reports, Clare was trying to fit in with ‘three of the most wayward girls’ in her house.

Read more: Anne Robinson’s biggest scandals from ‘fat-shaming’ Clare Balding to Countdown ‘feud’

Clare was reportedly suspended from Downe House in Berkshire and sent home to face her parents.

However, she believes her example – detailed in her motivational book Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going, aimed at kids – shows that “we all have bumps in the road”.

On ‘bouncing back’

Clare said at the time she had no intention of shying away from the anecdote because that is what the book is about.

The TV fave – married to broadcaster Alice Arnold – insisted: “I could have written it in a preachy, didactic style — ‘Look at me, aren’t I good?’.

These are the things I got wrong.

“But by far the most effective way was to say: ‘These are the things I got wrong. Don’t worry if you feel left out, run into trouble or make a massive mistake because you can recover.'”

Clare bounced back following her teenage brush with shoplifting
Clare bounced back following her teenage brush with shoplifting (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

Read more: The fear that made Clare Balding hide her sexuality for a decade

And Clare certainly did recover.

She resumed her studies at Downe House, eventually became Head Girl and went on to read English at Cambridge before becoming a BBC radio trainee.

Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel airs on BBC One on Saturday February 5 at 8.30pm.

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Robert Leigh
Freelance writer