A FORMER Borders newsreader quit her job to embark on a secret double life - living as both a man and a woman in two different cities.

India Willoughby, formerly known as Jonathan, made the revelation after completing her sex change operation last month.

The 50-year-old ITV Lookaround presenter revealed she wanted to come clean to viewers and colleagues but was frightened of a possible backlash.

She was on the verge of suicide when she quit broadcasting to work as a glamorous female PR executive in Newcastle on weekdays, before driving 60 miles home to Carlisle at weekends, where she would resume the role of Jonathan.

India said: "Being trans was something I struggled with for many years, and caused me a lot of stress.

"For five years I led a secret double life, flip-flopping between male and female in two different cities. My family and friends completely oblivious to my alternate worlds.

"Finally exhausted, I stopped fighting and went with the flow."

For years she was best known as married TV newsreader and dad-of-one Jonathan Willoughby.

But when a public relations job came up in Newcastle it gave her the perfect opportunity to be herself, and so she went to the interview as the woman she wanted to be.

India said: "There were many occasions towards the end of my time at ITV that I thought, ‘I just can’t carry on going in as Jonathan’.

"I used to dream of going in one day and just carrying on my career as the real me, as India. Then I would realise it just wasn’t possible.

"I remember in our newsroom when transsexual people featured in the news and it was considered a joke. Guys would gather around having a laugh.

"To my shame, I would join in because I had a fear that people could see through the act I was putting on. So I would be a bit laddish to hide my true feelings.

"But inside I knew it was me I was laughing at. The climate back then left me in fear.

"The pressure built up because I felt that if the truth came out I was going to lose everything, career, family and friends.

"I’d always known I was in the wrong body. I tried to resist it but it became exhausting.

"It would have been easier if I had had a less high-profile job than being the person who pops up every tea time on TV."

India described the moment in February 2010 when she finally accepted that she could no longer live a lie.

"I was interviewing a politician and caught sight of my reflection," she said. "I had slicked back hair, a sharp suit, and looked confident. Yet I stared at myself in disgust. This has got to stop, I thought. I need to be true to myself."

Determined to change her life, whatever the consequences, she resigned from her job at ITV Border.

She changed her name by deed poll.

"I was called for a job interview and knew this was my chance," said India. "I wore a smart skirt-suit and a little make-up, and the interview went well. They offered me the job, and my double life began.

"During the week, I lived as India in Newcastle and every weekend I’d go back to Carlisle, wearing jeans and a football shirt to see my boy."

India described the moment in July when she summoned up the courage to break the news to her son – and her joy as he accepted her.

India, whose marriage ended when her son was three, added: "My life finally feels whole. I hope one day that I’ll read the news again too."

Anybody who believes they have gender dysphoria – the word used to describe being born with the wrong gender – should be referred to a Gender Identity Clinic for support, treatment and assessment.