Richard Bacon’s cocaine past came back to haunt him in awkward chat with kids

It’s not every day someone has to deny snorting cocaine off a tortoise.

But when you are television star Richard Bacon, famously sacked from Blue Peter for taking cocaine in 1998, it’s all part and parcel.

Richard was forced to hand in his Blue Peter badge just 18 months into the role, and was the first presenter to have his contract terminated mid-run.

He admitted to taking cocaine in a nightclub, and the BBC’s head of children’s programmes Lorraine Heggessey issued a statement damning his actions.

She said: “It is sad that such a talented presenter as Richard Bacon has not only let himself and his colleagues down but, most important of all, he has let down the millions of children who watch Blue Peter.”

After being told that he would never work in television again, Richard went on to forge a successful career on radio and with the BBC and Channel 4.

Richard has opened up on his battle with addiction, and keeps it at bay with regular therapy



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Now 45, Richard is a TV producer based in Los Angeles, where he has lived since 2014 with wife Rebecca McFarlane, who he married in 2008.

But his past actions would come back to haunt him more than 20 years later.

Richard recently laughed about the moment that his smart speaker at home almost revealed his wild past when his son Arthur, nine, and daughter Ivy, seven, decided to ask Alexa who their dad was.

Richard told Andy Coulson’s Crisis What Crisis? podcast that he had to shout “stop!” when the answer was about to be revealed.

He said: “I am sitting in a room in my house in Los Angeles and there is one of those Amazon Alexas next to me and my kids said, ‘Oh Alexa, who is Richard Bacon?’

“And it comes up straight away, ‘Richard Bacon is an English television presenter. He was fired from Blue Peter in 1998 for taking…’

“I jumped in and said, ‘Alexa stop. Stop’.

Richard as a fresh-faced Blue Peter presenter back in 1997

Blue Peter presenters Konnie Huq, Richard Bacon, Katy Hill and Stuart Miles



“They said, ‘What are you saying stop for? Why did you get fired?’ And then they asked again.”

Richard has reflected on his drugs scandal in interviews, admitting he is glad it happened in the era before social media and “cancel culture”.

He told The Sun: “Cancel culture is about rushing to judgment. I’d love us all to slow down, go, ‘Stop, let’s think about this. Does this person really deserve never to have a career?'”

He continued: “My experience on Blue Peter would have been very different if social media had been around. The intensity of the storm is even more fierce and more frightening now.

“If you’re caught up in a massive scandal there are probably tens of thousands of tweets about you.”

And while Richard openly discusses the reason for his sacking – he does sometimes have to set the record straight.

Richard with his son Arthur, daughter Ivy and wife Rebecca


Richard Bacon/Instagram)

He was forced to shut down rumours he snorted cocaine off the two Blue Peter tortoises during an appearance on Unforgivable.

While he was starring on the Dave show, the events surrounding his firing from Blue Peter came up and host Mel Giedroyc made reference to the show’s tortoises called Fred and Frieda.

She asked: “Do you remember Fred and Frieda the tortoises? Big white lines.”

This shocked guest Judi Love, who didn’t know about Richard’s past on Blue Peter and the reasons for his dismissal.

Not understanding what had happened, a baffled Judi queried: “He gave them coke?”

Richard jumped in to put the record straight, saying: “I didn’t give any tortoises coke. So I got fired for taking drugs.”

The firing had come up as Judi asked Richard: “Why did you leave, what happened?”

Richard says his wife Rebecca wishes he did regular AA meetings


Richard Bacon/Instagram)

Richard lives in the US with his family but is coming back to host GMB



Richard claimed he got “fired for punctuality”, before quipping: “Because if you take a lot of coke you’re always late.”

He went on to jokingly add: “They would shout “that’s a wrap!” and I would shout ‘where?”

In 2019, Richard admitted he may still be addicted to alcohol, and that heavy drinking has caused “chaos and difficulty and uncertainty” in his life.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Hooked podcast, he revealed he had been through “dangerous” periods of drinking where he has gone missing for a night and “frightened” his wife.

He added that while he has moved away from that type of behaviour, he continues to drink.

Richard said: “I am almost at my most vulnerable when things are great. I don’t use (drink) to numb pain.

“If I am excited or happy about something I am more likely to go too far.”

He said his wife would like for him to regularly attend AA meetings, but he “just doesn’t”.

“But I have said I will spend more time with our therapist examining my relationship to drink,” he explained.

“We’re in a good place at the moment but once you have accepted you’re an addict to some degree the danger is always there, isn’t it?”

He linked his past drug use to drinking, too, explaining: “When I’ve been through periods of my life where I have been using cocaine, it’s only (after) two or three drinks where I quite fancy that as well.”

Richard is returning to the UK this week to will host Good Morning Britain this week, continuing the roster of guest presenters who have been stepping in to replace Piers Morgan.

He will present the ITV show alongside Charlotte Hawkins on the Wednesday, Kate Garraway for Thursday and Friday, and finally Ranvir Singh on the Monday.

“Not only am I coming home to London to guest present Good Morning Britain this month, but being back on British breakfast broadcasting feels like coming home also,” said Richard.

“I can’t wait to see the team again and am very much looking forward to my time on the show with Kate, Ranvir and Charlotte.”

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