I've been a silly old fool. Sorry

Stephen Fry is alive and well. This was his message to the world yesterday
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"I have been horrified and embarrassed to see from the papers how much attention my departure has provoked. I do want to apologise for all the distress and concern I have caused.

"I have been in touch with those closest to me to assure them of my good health, but I cannot let this opportunity go by without apologising again to two of the kindest and wisest people I know, Simon Gray and Rik Mayall, who have borne the brunt of this dismal affair. I have dealt them a very low blow indeed. My other friends know who they are and that I will be in touch with them.

"I can only offer cowardice, embarrassment and distress as excuses for such absurd behaviour. I would like also to say that I hold no grudge against the theatre critics.

"I left not out of pique, because I had been wounded or hurt, but because I was afraid that they were terribly right and that I was letting down Rik Mayall's brilliant performance in Simon Gray's remarkable play. They both deserved better and I am delighted and relieved that they are going to get it.

"I should also like to thank Mark Anderson for his heroism in going on for me and to apologise for the pressure this must have placed on him and to offer Duncan Weldon, a brave and resourceful producer, profound apologies for treating him so shabbily. I wish Simon Ward every good fortune and know that he will do great justice to a wonderful piece.

"I have been selfish. I cannot deny that. But I only have one life to lead and no dependants. I desperately needed to go away and rethink my life.

"I may live for another 37 years and it would be foolish to carry on doing things for which I haven't either the aptitude or perhaps the desire.

"After realising how inadequate my performance in Cell Mates was, I'm afraid I suffered a dreadful attack of what golfers call the yips and actors call stage fright and I slunk away rather than cause a scene in public. Basically, I couldn't stand the heat, so I escaped from the kitchen. The fact that I did so - the inadequacy of my acting side - perhaps show that I am not cut out for the business I have been engaged in for the last 15 years. But the reviews and sense of failure were, I think, only the straw that broke this camel's back. For years now I have been incapable of saying `no' and have allowed my work to become my life.

"I am offering this to the press in the hope that they will accept that I am not a Lord Lucan or a Reggie Perrin.

"While I have hurt and distressed those closest to me, it is for me to come to terms with them in private. I hope you will allow me a little space and solitude now. I could not bear to be `tracked down' by the media. If you can accept my assurances of good health and mental stability, perhaps you can leave it at that and give up any idea of finding and confronting me.

"In time, I will have to return and no doubt face the music, but for the moment I need a little quietness, and if you could find it in yourselves to allow it me, I should be very grateful.

"I am aware that I have been quoted as spouting opinions that are unlikely to cause you to have much regard for me, but I really would be grateful if I could be left in peace for the moment.

"As for the Harley Street clinics and all the rest of it ... you can be assured that while I do have a dentist in Harley Street, the only other occasion I have had cause to visit that thoroughfare was, ironically, for an insurance check-up for Cell Mates: these medicals are a requirement for all actors these days when engaging in long periods of work. I have not been seeking professional (or amateur) help for mental distress or for anything else. While I have been very unhappy and distraught, this `disappearance' is not a result of anything too violent or neurotic. Not so much a nervous breakdown, more a nervous stalling.

"I'm a silly old fool and I don't deserve this attention.

"Thank you and sorry."

Why Fry took flight, page 3