Stephen Fry, 66, says childhood sweets were ‘gateway’ to his cocaine addiction

TV presenter recalls boarding school tuckshop that sold candy cigarettes ‘so you were being prepared for cocaine and tobacco’

Roisin O'Connor
Saturday 04 November 2023 12:20 GMT
Stephen Fry shuts down Laura Kuenssberg over Brexit claim

Stephen Fry has blamed sweets for triggering the “addictive impulse” that later led to his cocaine addiction.

The former QI presenter, 66, discussed his former substance abuse issues with John Cleese in the first episode of the Monty Python star’s GB News show, The Dinosaur Hour.

“When I was a teenager, I had this vast empty hole in me that said ‘Feed me, I need this sugar, I need it’,” he said.

“When it wasn’t sugar, it became tobacco, so I smoked and then in my twenties it became cocaine. I just couldn’t sit still. It’s that addictive impulse.”

Fry placed some of the blame on companies advertising their sugary cereals on TV, and more to the tuckshop at his boarding school.

“You would have a pipe made of liquorice and you would have cigarettes with red tips on the end which were candy cigarettes,” he said, via The Times.

“So you were being prepared for cocaine and tobacco. Essentially, you were given white powder and tobacco, and I never could eat enough of that.”

Fry has previously spoken about his substance abuse issues, and has admitted to taking cocaine in Buckingham Palace and the House of Lords.

However, his addictive personality does not extend to alcohol: “I do like a drink,” he told Cleese. “I like wine. But I know I could never be an alcoholic. I just don’t like it enough. I don’t like feeling sick. I don’t like the responsibility of apologising the next day if I’ve been drunk.”

Fry is currently on the mend after falling around six feet from a stage at an AI conference in September.

Appearing on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Thursday (2 November), Fry explained that he is using a cane at the moment because of his injuries.

“I am walking with a cane at the moment, because six weeks ago, to the very day, I delivered a lecture at the O2 Arena in Greenwich for part of CogX, which is a sort of festival of ideas, you might say,” Fry told his host.

“And I was giving a lecture on AI, a subject which has long absorbed my interest since the Seventies. And I took a bow at the end and walked off stage.

“I don’t know why, I just walked off to the right, having come on from the left! I didn’t know as I fiddled with the black curtain that there was a six-foot drop onto concrete.”

Fry said that he broke his leg in two places, his pelvis “in many places”, and “a bunch of ribs”.

“So, this is my first sort of outing in the world really,” he added.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.

In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in