Richard Bacon on battling scandal, addiction and nine days in a coma
June 18, 2020. Series 1. Episode 3
If this podcast is about analysing crisis in all its forms then Richard Bacon, one of Britain’s brightest TV presenters and producers, is a guest who has survived more than anybody’s fair share. A career shattering scandal, addiction and mental health issues and a sudden illness that left him in a coma and fighting for life. In this episode Richard talks about what he has learnt from his dramas – self-inflicted and otherwise – with disarming frankness, brutal self-analysis and plenty of humour.
Richard’s Crisis Cures:
1. Avoid alcohol: ‘I think if I’m going through a dark day the thing is to not drink because that can very quickly bring out anger.’
2. Vinyl music: ‘I often play sixties bands, whether it’s The Who or The Kinks or The Beatles or The Stones… nothing makes me happier than putting on a piece of vinyl, I just love everything about it.’
3. Babington House: ‘I got married there and it still retains its kind of magic quality…it’s hard not to go there and do anything other than feel much better.’
The ADHD Foundation: https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk
ICR Everyman appeal: https://www.icr.ac.uk/support-us/appeals-campaigns/everyman-appeal
Richard Bacon is a man on a mission. Already an established entertainment and news presenter in both Britain and the US, he recently signed a deal with NBCUniversal to devise and produce new show formats. All this a testament to his energy and optimism.
But transatlantic success can also be traced directly back to a decision made in the white heat of a crisis in 1998. Caught taking cocaine by the News of the World (under a previous editor!) whilst he was presenter of the BBC’s flagship kids show Blue Peter – Richard could have taken the view that fame and TV were not for him.
Instead, aged just 23 he decided to ‘own’ his crisis and march headlong into, not away, from the drama. The bold innocence of youth, perhaps.
But it also took courage, focus and determined self-belief – three critical crisis management skills. But success has been a tough road for Richard in part because of ADHD. A condition that he believes has contributed to his dependencies. As he puts it: “I’m a run towards, not a run-away addict. I’m not running away from anything.”
Richard’s restless curiosity, and the support of his wife Rebecca, have been his saviours professionally and personally.
A willingness to engage with his own strengths and weaknesses and to confront the truths of them is another crisis lesson worth noting.
A big believer in the power of therapy (and, fortunately, podcasts), he says the simple, but not always easy, act of talking about your problems takes you a long way towards being able to fix them.
Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning