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Wednesday 16 April 2014

How BBC stars use vast amounts of cocaine to shine on screen - insider

Broadcasting executives addicted to cocaine are routinely praised by bosses for their "creative genius", a former BBC producer told British MPs.

Sarah Graham, who worked on children's programmes for the corporation and took cocaine for nine years, said use of the drug remained widespread among senior media executives and taking it helped to boost their careers.

Appearing before a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the cocaine trade, Ms Graham (40) said that she had been offered the drug on her first day at the corporation by a Radio 5 Live presenter.



Hype

"The producer and presenter took me to a Soho media watering hole after the show. I had a few glasses of champagne," she said. "They asked if I wanted to go to the toilet and do some cocaine. I'm ashamed to say I didn't know much beyond the hype and glamour about the drug and I said yes."

Ms Graham, now an addiction counsellor, said that many television executives continued to use the drug beyond their 20s. But as it warped their character, they were often praised for their off-the-wall brilliance.

"As your addiction progresses, certain behaviour that would not be tolerated in a normal job can be spun as part of your creative genius or extraordinary personality," she said.

"Their off-the-wall behaviour is tolerated and people bow down to them. It's similar with City traders whose cocaine addiction combines with a gambling addiction, causing them to take incredible risks."

Ms Graham, who went on to use heroin and crack, called on the Government to provide more rehabilitation centres and said that stars caught using cocaine should have advertising contracts terminated.

She said: "Certainly the pictures of Amy [Winehouse] and Pete Doherty in those car crash moments don't make the drug look very attractive. "

Mitch Winehouse, father of the singer who sought treatment for crack and heroin addiction, also gave evidence to the committee.

Mr Winehouse said: "People are definitely committing offences so they can have a chance -- and it's only a chance -- of receiving treatment," he said.

"The biggest impact on families is that there is very little help available to them, especially if their relative is a non-offending addict.

hnews@herald.ie

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