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Charlie abuse rife, says former producer

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A former BBC producer has claimed that the UK's TV industry is snowed under with charlie, and the "off-the-wall" brilliance of many stars is down to prodigious intake of nose ajax.

That's according to Sarah Graham, a BBC Radio 5, Children's BBC and Channel 4's The Big Breakfast vet, who has recounted the scale of the abuse to a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on the cocaine trade.

She told the hearing: "One of the things about the media... is that, as your addiction progresses, certain behaviours which would not be tolerated in a normal job can actually be spun to be part of your creative genius or part of your extraordinary personality."

She added: "There is a culture within the media and within the celebrity world that is very relaxed around the use of cocaine. It's seen as something that is socially acceptable in certain areas, in industries where this 'work hard, party hard' ethos exists.

"The hype about drugs is that all these successful people are doing drugs... I bought into the showbiz myth of cocaine being part of that success."

The Telegraph offers Graham's description of her first day at the Beeb back in the 1990s, when she was "fresh out of university and working as a researcher for Radio 5", and enjoying a night out in Soho with her show's presenter and producer.

She said: "We were celebrating the end of a live show. I had a few glasses of champagne and I was asked if I would like to go to the toilet and do some cocaine. I'm ashamed to say I didn't really know very much about cocaine beyond the hype - celebrity, glamour, success - that goes with it and I unfortunately went to the toilet and took cocaine and I believe that changed the course of my life from that point on."

Indeed, Graham then fell into a ten-year addition to cocaine, which ended with her in a rehab clinic in 2001. She now works as a drugs counsellor and a spokeswoman for the government's drugs information service, Frank.

Asked whether any of her coke-fuelled former colleagues still worked in the industry, Graham confirmed: "Some of those people are still in place, some of them are behaving in off-the-wall ways and are enabled left, right and centre, and people bow down to them. Some of this stuff is rewarded - it depends where you are and who you are." ®

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