30/03/2011 12:05 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Second Mrs Lineker: 'I'm Still A Stranger To My Gary's Boys'

When Danielle Lineker married Gary in 2009, she became stepmum to his four teenage sons. With her oldest stepson George only 12 years younger than her, Danielle has found her new role a challenge.

This week a documentary shows her journey as she tries to understand more about her new family. What's the secret to a successful stepfamily, the fastest growing family type in Britain? How should she behave to avoid being the wicked stepmother? We're not sure this is quite sure this was the best way to endear herself to her new step-sons, but it still makes interesting viewing.

Danielle, 30, wed the former England captain - 19 years her senior - in September after falling for him on a blind date in an Italian restaurant three years ago. She has an eight-year-old daughter Ella from a previous relationship.

And she'd admitted in The Mirror that she's finding it hard to cope after Gary's boys - George, 18, Harry, 16, Tobias, 14, and Angus, 12 - played a string of practical jokes on her.

She said: "I don't swim. If I'm on a lilo they push Angus, the youngest, to knock me off so he gets ticked off. But I know what they're doing. You don't love them straight away - they're strangers. You work towards that.

"But I really, really don't want to be a wicked stepmother. I want to be their friend.

"I find it hard to discipline them. I get Gary to do it. My problem is taking a step back. I'm worried I don't make enough effort. And I do tell Ella off more - because she's mine. I really don't want these kids to hate me."

Danielle - who lives with Gary at his £2.6million five-bedroom home in Esher, Surrey - has battled to win the boys round, introducing them to Simon Cowell and taking car-crazy George racing at Brands Hatch.

But George, who acted as head barman at the couple's wedding last year, says: "She's not a stepmum - she's just someone who's around."

And Danielle adds: "I was just a stranger to him three years ago - he's not going to suddenly start liking me. I've got to build their trust. I'm pretty cool. I introduced them to Simon Cowell - that was pretty cool. I try not to be a parent because I don't think it's my place to tell them what to do.

"I feel if I say 'don't kick the ball about the kitchen', they'll just think 'silly old cow'.

"Maybe with their mum it's more relaxed, so I don't want them to come to my house and for it to be all lots of rules. I'd like to be their friend but I can't really be their friend.

"It does take time and it can be frustrating. You envisage the relationship you want but unfortunately it doesn't just happen overnight - it can't."

Danielle's perseverance with the boys seems to be paying off at last.

Growing up in Cardiff - on "the worst council estate in Europe" - she was brought up by her mother and stepfather after her parents split when she was a youngster.

And she is determined to learn the lessons of her own childhood. "I'd like to think that it makes a difference to the boys that we're married now. I'm not just going to bugger off.

"If they come and tell me things - serious things - I'm going to have to tell their dad. I probably need to be more like a big sister. A big sister will always go and grass you up but you might go to your big sister about something you wouldn't go to your parents about - she might understand.

"Being young and fun is easy - but being the grown-up and an adult, that's not so easy for me."

Gary, who split with Michelle, his boys' mother, in 2006 after 20 years of marriage, says: "It's lovely to see everyone getting on. The boys really love Ella and are really protective."

And he has vowed to make his new family set-up work, saying: "I wasn't sure I was going to find love again but when I found Danielle, I knew I'd found someone special.

"You never want to say everything's perfect because you never know what's round the corner.

"But we're in love and very happy. And I think my sons just think, 'Dad's done all right'."

A TV documentary on Danielle, called My New Stepfamily, will be shown on BBC3 on July 20.

Are you a step-parent? Do you have any tips that worked for you and your step-children?