Peaches Geldof obituary: TV presenter and writer who grew up in the celebrity spotlight as the daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates
Tuesday 08 April 2014
Peaches Geldof was a writer and broadcaster who had been propelled into the world of celebrity early in life. As a daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, she had enjoyed the benefits of wealth and fame, but had also experienced poor fortune in the form of personal tragedies, with the death of her mother and of her mother’s partner Michael Hutchence, who died in 1997.
Geldof was born in London on 13 March 1989, the second of three daughters. Her father, Bob Geldof, is the musician and campaigner, best known for his role in the Band Aid and Live Aid charity projects of the 1980s. Her mother, the TV presenter and writer Paula Yates, died in September 2000, the result of an accidental heroin overdose. Peaches Geldof was just 11 years old at the time.
"I remember the day my mother died, and it's still hard to talk about it. I just blocked it out," she said later in a magazine interview. "I went to school the next day because my father's mentality was 'keep calm and carry on'. So we all went to school and tried to act as if nothing had happened. But it had happened. I didn't grieve. I didn't cry at her funeral. I couldn't express anything because I was just numb to it all." She added that, "I didn't start grieving for my mother properly until I was maybe 16."
Geldof started her media career in 2004 with Elle Girl, a magazine for teenagers, writing columns on fashion and celebrity. Her friend Faran Krentcil, whom she met later when both were at Nylon magazine in New York, described the experience of working with her. "One second she was there, sparking on some opinion she'd want you to share, or exploding with a new obsession - punk lyrics, maybe, or an obscure Russian poet. And then she was gone, but not really. She'd leave a trail of fizzy, popping energy behind, and the whole room seemed to vibrate and glow."
The following year she presented Peaches Geldof: Teenage Mind, a documentary made by Ten Alps Television, the company founded by her father. She described her mission in making the programme as being to determine "What's really going on in our confused teenage heads..." and asked, "Why are we so annoying: are we being stereotyped or are we just plain misunderstood? That's what I plan to find out..." She went on to present The Beginner's Guide to Islam (2006) for Channel 4, which investigated the religion from the perspective of young women in Morocco, during her visit to the country.
Whether as a writer or presenter, Geldof's eloquence and directness echoed her late mother's work in broadcasting, particularly on the pioneering music television programme The Tube. When the daytime television presenter Phillip Schofield suggested that she might be "an old head on new shoulders", Geldof replied, "I've been painted as this poster girl for a generation and that's why I'm getting bad press at the moment - people are trying to rip that down from me. But to be honest, I never wanted that anyway."
She married the musician Max Drummey in August 2008, choosing the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, where her parents had wed 22 years earlier. "I didn't go into it with Max thinking, 'This is going to last forever', but I did go into it thinking, 'I love him right now and I know that I will continue to love him for a long while'," she said. The marriage broke up in February of the following year.
In 2010 Geldof had been billed as the new face of the underwear company Ultimo. But when compromising pictures of her appeared in the media, the campaign, and her association with the company, were swiftly dropped. Ultimo's chief executive, Michelle Mone, said at the time "We've given this a lot of thought, but there's a point where a business must stick to its principles and as a brand that targets young women, we feel it is impossible for Peaches to continue to work with us as the face of Miss Ultimo lingerie."
Last week she had been at the launch of a new range of clothes for the Tesco F&F brand in London. Her final public message, via Twitter, on Sunday 6 April contained just the words "Me and my mum", accompanied by a picture of her as a young child, with Paula Yates. She was found dead the following day at her home in Wrotham, Kent, where she had lived with her husband, Tom Cohen, and her two sons.
Bob Geldof said in tribute: "Peaches has died. We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. Writing 'was' destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is."
Peaches Geldof, writer and broadcaster: born London 13 March 1989; married 2008 Max Drummey (separated 2009, divorced 2011); married 2012 Tom Cohen (two sons); died Wrotham, Kent 7 April 2014.
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