Richard Bacon: My Blue Peter cocaine dismissal resulted in 'positive things'

The BBC Radio 5 Live presenter says that “out of adversity” came new career opportunities, starting with his stint on The Big Breakfast

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The Independent Online

Richard Bacon asserts that being fired from Blue Peter for taking cocaine led to greater opportunities.

“Out of adversity,” he says, came “positive things”.

The BBC Radio 5 Live presenter was sacked from the children’s television show in 1998, aged 22, after he admitted to using cocaine.

“The Blue Peter thing changed the whole course of my life; the path I was going down altered dramatically,” he said.

“Without it, I probably would’ve gone to some kind of holiday show, promoting two-night stays somewhere.

“It had a huge impact. It’s a fact of my life, and almost as big a part of me now as one of my limbs.”

While he’s not “advocating that people should try that as a career plan”, he says the incident opened new doors for him.

“Like the Japanese proverb says, out of adversity, came opportunity,” he told The Mirror. “Positive things came out of it.”

Bacon was only 18 months into his role as a Blue Peter presenter, when he was forced to publicly apologise for taking the Class A drug, following his dismissal.

“I fully accept and agree with the decision that has been taken,” he said in a statement.

“I regret what I did but it was in my personal time and I therefore hope that it does not reflect on the show.

“I am very grateful to Blue Peter for the opportunity it has given me and am very sorry that I have let everybody down.“

His confession and sacking strongly impacted his family, especially his father, a criminal defence lawyer.

“I remember my mum heard him crying in the shower – it was the only time she had ever heard him cry,” he said.

However, he says the incident “opened a whole new series of jobs”, including presenting roles on The Big Breakfast, Top of the Pops and reality television shows Back To Reality and Castaway Exposed.

In January 2010, he replaced Simon Mayo presenting BBC Radio 5 Live’s mid-afternoon show from Monday to Thursdays.

“I became known as the naughty boy, working with all the other naughty kids,” he said. “I never thought for a second I’d stop working because of it.

“I’m an extremely positive person and never thought I’d not work for the BBC again. It’s such a broad organisation that for them to speak with one voice and ban me completely seemed unlikely.”

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