The famous Channel 4’s “For the Love of Cars” co-presenter has had a successful yet tumultuous life in the spotlight, as his career is nothing short of a very unique mix. Throughout his years in the show business, he’s enjoyed massive success as a host of various high-profile titles, such as “Wheeler Dealers,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Celebrity IOU: Joyride.”
Being one of the most prominent British TV personalities definitely has its perks, but it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Ant. For example, the public is generally in the know regarding his relationships and other intimate information. With that in mind, many have wondered why Anstead now has two divorces in his wake, with three children from those failed marriages.
To understand what led the presenter towards moving on from both of the women he wedded, fans must first be familiar with his upbringing and strange career choices. Ant never planned on being famous to begin with, which changes the perspective on many things regarding him.
Ant’s non-foretelling beginnings
The former soccer star was born Anthony Richard Anstead on 28 March 1979, in Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom, and was raised apparently an only child, primarily in Ely, Cambridgeshire, to where the family moved shortly after his birth. Ant spent the next 10 years of his life there, at which point he and his parents relocated to Hertfordshire in Southern England.
It was there that he attended Richard Hale School, and subsequently the co-educational Haileybury School to finish the A-level tests, matriculating in 1997. Ant had various interests as a child, but he was most particularly into soccer and cars, both of which passions were fully supported by his parents.
For reasons still undisclosed to the media, Anstead chose not to enter college, and instead worked odd jobs for a short while, finding steady employment in 1999 as a police constable, primarily set onto duty at Bishop’s Stortford, close to where his family home is situated.
He relocated to the Cheshunt police station, another Hertfordshire town, then eventually joined the Tactical Firearms Unit (TFU), based in nearby Welwyn Garden City, serving with which branch of the police granted Ant a lot of experience with firearms and tactical urban combat.
The TFU is the most combat-ready specialist operational group of the British Ministry of Defense, alongside the Special Escort Group (SEG), Operational Support Unit (OSU), and Central Support Group (CSG). Their mission is to provide firearms capability for the sake of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent (SND).
The government’s website cites this particular unit as having officers who practice their craft in a highly demanding environment, making them some of the best prepared Authorized Firearms Officers (AFO’s) in the UK. They have vital urban combat skills, such as rapid intervention and dynamic entry, on the quality of which many lives across the world tend to depend. The selection process for this unit is considered rather rigorous and unforgiving, after which the officers become qualified for tactical dynamic search. Anstead received two commendations for acts of bravery during his service with TFU.
— Ant Anstead (@AntAnstead) January 15, 2019
However, even though he had a flourishing career as a special unit operative, Ant didn’t seem satisfied with his life, and thus in 2005 switched to his childhood longing: car building. Anstead opened a shop, and began both fixing and completely remodeling vehicles for his growing clientele, and for many years, until his first television stint in 2014.
While doing all this, Ant was also playing soccer semi-professionally – something he kept up with for 15 years. As such, he had accumulated more than 700 matches at Ryman level, which is part of the Isthmian league – a regional soccer league for men that persists in the Greater London, East and South East England areas.
Anstead started his soccer career as a goalkeeper, but eventually transitioned into a striker in 2013. After winning a Ryman league promotion again upon changing his calling, Ant automatically became the only player to take a Ryman league promotion win home in two different positions.
From the workshop to the big screen
Anthony’s first TV appearance took place in 2014, when he was featured alongside Philip Glenister as the co-host of the automotive documentary TV series “For the Love of Cars,” in which he remained for 14 episodes during 2014 and ‘15. This was only the beginning, though, and he continued involvement with shows and other programs that had to do with car building.
This media breakthrough came right after Ant founded his own TV production company in 2014, called Ant Anstead Limited. His next appearance on television closely followed the last episode of “For the Love of Cars” that he was in, which was the time he presented live car building alongside the legendary “Top Gear” journalist James May, as well as presenter Kate Humble, in BBC’s live show entitled “Building Cars Live.”
In 2016 he hosted three episodes of “Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth,” and he featured as a guest in the talk-show “Sunday Brunch.” After being presented as a ‘car restoration expert and all-around car nut,’ Ant appeared on camera, saying ‘I live and breathe cars, they’re my life. Every day. There’s something about cars, I’ve grown up with cars, I’m a big classic car fan, and, you know, these classic cars have become part of the family. We all name our cars, we all have memorable stories in them.’
Hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer curiously watched Ant as he spilled his passion in front of them, with Rimmer then asking ‘So have we lost something there with modern cars?’ Ant replied ‘Um, yeah, I guess so, I mean modern cars have been built in a very, sort of, safe-production car facility. Some car companies are still doing things that are cutting-edge, that evoke design, but for me, that period, sort of, between the 50’s and 60’s, there.’
What is #BritainsGreatestInvention🤔🇬🇧Coming soon to @BBCTwo #TW2017 let the Great British public decide!
Posted by Ant Anstead on Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Ant appeared in three more titles in 2016, in each of which he expressed his unwavering love for cars and building them, while the extent of his automotive knowledge kept growing across the worldwide audiences. He also presented the film entitled “Britain’s Greatest Invention” in 2017, as well as hosted an episode of “World’s Most Expensive Cars,” in which a panel of automotive experts go over the five greatest sports cars ever created in their opinion, which were then rated best to worst depending on design and performance.
As though that wasn’t enough, he also hosted six episodes of “Craft It Yourself” that year, but, most importantly, he replaced car connoisseur colleague and TV presenter Edward John China, known widely as Edd China, as the co-host of the documentary automotive series “Wheeler Dealers.” He hosted 34 episodes of the show, from 2017 to 2019, however on 4 November he announced that he’d be leaving the show, due to his at-the-time fresh second divorce.
He said ‘It was a massive life change for me, obviously. Moving countries is very difficult in itself, but moving countries and taking over an established show was kind of overwhelming. But now that some years have passed, I’ve really settled in. But I really have established my life here.’
In the video mostly centered on a brand new host coming to the show to take over from Ant, who was leaving permanently, there was a moment when his colleague said ‘People are gonna say ‘Brewer can’t hold onto these mechanics’ and all this nonsense,’ to which Ant replied with ‘People say that about me and my wives!’
In 2019 he showed up in the film entitled “Barrett-Jackson Live,” as well as in two episodes of “Christina on the Coast.” Most prominently, though, he built a brand new car over 12 episodes of his own documentary TV series entitled “Ant Anstead Master Mechanic.” In the show, he used redundant spare parts and even took apart donated cars to build an Alfa Romeo 158 tribute car from start to finish. This process wasn’t easy though, and so a lot of experts rode in from the sidelines to help the project along.
In 2020 he skipped on-screen appearances, most likely due to being rather overwhelmed with the lengthy divorce process, which lasted for almost two years. Ant made the grand return in 2021, however, by hosting six episodes of “Celebrity IOU: Joyride,” as well as co-hosting four episodes of “Entertainment Tonight,” and the same year he was also involved in the TV special entitled “Drew’s Dream Car.”
Finally, Ant didn’t cease even in 2022, having appeared in four titles by late November. He showed up in the TV series entitled “Radford Returns,” as well as the eponymous TV special, in which he is featured as the co-owner and chief engineer of the company called Radford Motors. He made an appearance in the short film entitled “Shakedown Before Monterey,” and lastly another in “Hot Laps at Laguna Seca.”
A love life with more turns than an F1 track
The first hint of romantic involvement in Anstead’s life began in the late 1990’s, when he met and started dating Louise Herbert. They fell madly in love, but kept their relationship out of the reach of the media for close to seven years, ultimately going public and marrying in 2005. They have two children together – Amelie, who was born in 2003, and Archie in 2006.
They ultimately filed for divorce due to irreconcilable differences, which was officiated in October 2017. Although legally and romantically separated, the pair never stopped caring for their children, and staying on the most amicable of terms for their sake.
As told by People magazine, Ant said ‘We spent 22 years together from teenagers to adults and to this day remain very close friends and we stay in regular contact, almost daily.’ To that, he added ‘We have two amazing kids together who we are incredibly proud of, and we will forever be family.’ Regarding Louise’s wedding to her second husband, he said ‘I wish them a lifetime full of happiness.’
Right after divorcing Louise, Ant moved to the US and dedicated himself to filming episodes of “Wheeler Dealers.” It was there that he eventually met fellow host and show business colleague Christina Haack, who was at the time working on HGTV, and who later ended up hosting her own “Christina on the Coast.”
They went slowly at first, ultimately starting a relationship in late 2017, and subsequently marrying on 22 December 2018. They have a son named Hudson Anstead together, who has thus far been the subject of some controversy. This marriage also failed for Ant, who started going through another divorce in late 2019. The court process took approximately a year and a half, ending on 21 June 2021.
Finally, Ant began dating actress Renee Zellweger only a few months after his second divorce was finalized; she’s proven to be instrumental help for Anstead in the post-divorce settlement issues that remained between him and Christina. As Daily Mail’s online portal put it, ‘Ant Anstead and Renee Zellweger put on a brave face amid his bitter custody battle with ex- Christina Hall – as they take his son to Laguna Beach Halloween Parade.’
In the meantime, especially in the latter half of 2022, Christina and Ant continue to fight each other in the media, with articles such as the one from pagesix.com detailing how his ex-wife called him out for sharing a ‘disgusting’ article.
In short, Christina accused Ant of intentionally keeping their child in the spotlight so as to ease his court battle for the custody of the child. She said ‘Ant Anstead is so clearly projecting it’s not even funny. He is the ONLY ONE that keeps ensuring that Hudson’s name stays in the press. Hidson’s Law? Give me a break.’