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Monday, 19 March 2012

Snorting coke in a toilet was so seedy; Ex- Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon - FIDDAMAN blog counterpoint

Snorting coke in a toilet was so seedy; Ex- Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon tells the true story of the mistake that cost him his job.. and made him vow never to take drugs again.

Richard Bacon (television presenter) (born 1975), English television and radio presenter

, who was sacked for taking cocaine in October, writes movingly for The Mirror on the shame he has brought on himself and his family. He reveals how he has turned his back on drugs as he starts to rebuild his life and career.

THERE was always going to be a time when I would want to break loose from the straightjacket of children's television.

Needless to say, I did not plan such a dramatic exit...

Now, I am adjusting to LABP - Life After Blue Peter - and although I unconditionally regret dabbling with cocaine, I have to look for a fresh career in the land of grown-up
I now realise the value of my parents' advice when they lectured me about the dangers of drugs. They were right. I was wrong.

When I first moved to London two and half years ago I vividly remember my dad, a solicitor, passing on a warning from a journalist friend of his. She had warned him about the "coke scene" in the capital and how easy it was to fall into the trap.

I assured him that he had nothing to worry about. Sorry Mum, sorry Dad.

A week after I was "exposed" it was my mum's 50th birthday and we had a party for her. As soon she saw me she hugged me and broke down in tears.

Almost everyone in the room started crying - myself included. It was an important moment, making me realise that my family would always stand by me .

It is tempting to try to dismiss my use of drugs as a "moment of madness" in the way a politician recently described his own fall from grace, but I regard myself as more accountable than that.

The debate on my activities has tried to suggest the pressures of television or my peers have been to blame. In truth it was neither.

I HAD spent a lot of time in West End bars and clubs and witnessing so many people experimenting with coke and even being offered the odd 'line' somehow made me less disapproving

In the end the whole process is very seedy. Being locked in a grotty toilet cubicle, inhaling violently through my nostrils from the top of a porcelain cistern  cover, is less than enjoyable.

But I forgot about the possible consequences. A few weeks ago though, I was reminded...

It began when I came out of Blue Peter's birthday party at the Natural History Museum - 40 years to the day since the show began.

As I left with Anthea Turner  I noticed two photographers. They started taking pictures of me - and ONLY me. Strange in such superstar company.

I knew I was in trouble, but I didn't know what they knew.

It sounds naive, but I toyed with the idea that they were doing one of those Blue Peter Presenter Out Past His Bedtime type of stories.

The next morning I told my dad about the night's strange events. He was very concerned and said: "Well, you know what you've done? What could it be?' He was stern and worried.

An hour later I contacted my agent and explained the situation. "Could it be something to do with a woman?" he asked. I replied: "I don't think so."

"Now then, have you ever tried any naughty substances?" he said bluntly.

"Er, yes..." I confessed.

"Right then," he sighed. "Let's try and find out what's going on

He put me in touch with Stuart Higgins, former editor of The Sun and now a media adviser. Higgins began ringing round.

With nothing to do but wait, I went off shopping with my family, but on the way home, with everyone in the car, Higgins rang.

"It's the News Of The World - COCAINE." Although I should have panicked I tried to concentrate on how to deal with what was about to happen to me - and how to tell my dad.

Initially he was angry. We telephoned Mum straight away and she helped calm him down. Both have since been amazingly supportive.

I IMMEDIATELY drove round to see my boss, editor of Blue Peter, Oliver MacFarlane

On the way, some words he had said to me the night before, were ringing in my ears. "I have made, a good choice in picking you for the programme, don't ever let me down."

Sadly, the damage was done. By now I had confessed to the News Of The World.

The grim reality of the whole thing suddenly hit me when I read the headline in the morning: "BLUE PETER GOODY GOODY IS A COCAINE SNORTING Six O'Clock News, News At Ten, Question Time, Newsnight, Have I Got News for You? Chris Evans and every other radio station in the land were on to me.

Naturally there were people keen to ride the publicity tidal wave tidal wave, term properly applied to the crest of a tide as it moves around the earth. The wavelike upstream rush of water caused by the incoming tide in some locations is known as a tidal bore. and I had immediate offers to work - pounds 20,000 for one week's guest presenting on Talk Radio, for example.

Difficult to turn down when you are out of work, but I didn't want to profit from my disgrace.

I suppose that if there is one good thing to come out of all of this it is that I will not be going anywhere near drugs again in my life.

I had always found coke to be a massive anti-climax. With its extremely high cost and its very low effect it soon had me craving craving Psychology A strong desire to consume a particular substance–eg of abuse, or food; craving is a major factor in relapse and/or continued use after withdrawal from a substance of abuse and is both imprecisely defined and difficult to measure. for more just to counteract the terrible depression that quickly sets in.

But you can only put off the depression for so long. It was 12 hours in my case and when I would arrive back at my flat at 8.30 in the morning after a night doing coke I had to face the "come down'.

Lying on my bed, unable to sleep and having spent a fortune in the process I entered a state of paranoia  about what I had just done.

AND the sniffing

2. ! Everyone thought I had a cold.

One of the worst aspects of my actions was the embarrassment I have caused to DARE - a hugely successful anti-drugs initiative based in my home county of Nottinghamshire which had included me in some of its anti-drugs literature. But I am probably in a better position to help them now than I was before because of my first-hand experience and the price I have paid.

I know that I am terminally tarnished as the only Blue Peter presenter to be sacked, but the whole episode is something I have to try to put behind me and make a fresh start.

I will miss Blue Peter.

I never watched it much as a kid, but in recent years I have thought of it as great cult viewing.

(Where else would I have got the chance to ride a motorised  motorized sofa and bathe a dog?)

I am still close to all of the team. They have provided a mountain of support and I will stay in touch.

And I am sure that the next time I stand in front of a TV camera I will glance down at my chest to check for a badge. But I will always remain a big fan.

I owe the programme and the viewers so much. I just hope the new presenter keeps his nose clean.

Richard Bacon has not been paid for this article, but has asked for a donation to be made to the anti-drugs charity, DARE

Richard Bacon


RICHARD'S departure from the BBC BBC

in full British Broadcasting Corp.

Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927. was immediate.

"I got an early phone call summoning me to a meeting with the words: 'It's not good news!'

"I was the first to arrive at the office at Television Centre.

"Ten minutes later the lift doors opened and out walked Lorraine Heggessey  the head of Children's BBC, Oliver MacFarlane, Blue Peter's editor and a woman from personnel who was carrying my contract. We sat down. The atmosphere was very calm and they were genuinely sad about what had happened.

. I said that I felt I had to go.

"They asked me to hand over my BBC ID card. Though, contrary to speculation, not my precious Blue Peter badge A Blue Peter badge is a much coveted award for Blue Peter viewers, given to people on the children's television programme for either being on the show or achieving something. , which is safely stored away in my bedside cabinet.

"As we said our farewells they said that they hoped the story would die quickly. It didn't..."


No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.

Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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