Former Chitty Chitty Bang Bang child star HEATHER RIPLEY blames her early brush with fame for ruining her life and leaving her in therapy.

The 46-year-old - who was just seven when she played JEMIMA opposite Dick Van Dyke in the late 1960s - is now a mother of two living on benefits who campaigns for environmental issues.

And she insists she hated filming the family musical because she missed her family, and developed a serious drinking problem in her teens because she was bullied at school.

She tells American tabloid the Globe, "People are shocked when I tell them how miserable the whole experience was... I saw my father only three times during filming and I missed him terribly."

Ripley explains the location filming in Bavaria and France meant her parents were separated for weeks at a time - and this led to them eventually splitting up after her father had an affair.

Ripley was fined last month (JAN06) after being convicted of driving without a licence.