Former BBC producer reveals how 'creative' TV executives are PRAISED over cocaine use

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    Former BBC producer reveals how 'creative' TV executives are PRAISED over cocaine use

    Television executives who take cocaine are often praised for their 'off-the-wall' brilliance instead of reprimanded, according to a former BBC producer.

    Sarah Graham, who has worked for Children's BBC, Radio 5, and Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, said drug use remained rife in the industry and was not isolated to workers in their 20s.

    Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, she said the erratic behaviour of many broadcast stars was is not the sign of creative genius but of addiction to illegal substances.

    Speaking yesterday, she said she was offered cocaine on her first day at the BBC on a night out with co-workers, sparking a nine-year habit which included using crack and heroin.

    Miss Graham, 40, now a drugs counsellor, said: 'I was working at the BBC and pretty much the first night working on a show my producer and presenter took me to a Soho media watering hole and I was asked if I'd like to go to the toilet and do some cocaine.'

    She added: 'As your addiction progresses, certain behaviour that would not be tolerated in a normal job can be spun as part of your creative genius or extraordinary personality.'

    Amy Winehouse's father also pleaded with MPs to improve facilities for drug addicts after telling of the guilt he felt over his daughter's descent into heroin and cocaine abuse.

    Former taxi driver Mitch Winehouse, 58, who has helped the singer battle back from almost five years of drug addiction, made his request to while giving evidence to the committee, which is investigating the cocaine trade.

    Singer Amy Winehouse with father Mitch

    He has spent the last nine months making a documentary with Channel 4 in which he has travelled around Britain speaking to families who have had similar problems.

    And talking of his experience, which once saw him weeping in the street when asked about his wayward daughter's troubles, he said: 'The overriding message I got from families and even my own, was one of guilt.

    But he defended the way in which he had looked after 26-year-old Miss Winehouse, despite episodes which have seen the star hospitalised for taking an overdose as well as cancelling shows citing exhaustion and ill health.

    Sarah Graham says the effects on drug-addicts behaviour can be 'spun' into 'creative genius'

    At the committee meeting, which was chaired by Keith Vaz, Mr Winehouse highlighted the huge gulf in facilities available to wealthy celebrities who can afford the best private treatment and those who could not.

    He claimed most addicts who had volunteered to get help were being forced to wait for up to a year before they were offered places in residential rehab centres, while criminals who often had no intention of trying to overcome their addictions were being offered places as an alternative to prison.

    'The majority of government funding, which is approaching £400million, is being taken up by the criminal justice system,' he said. 'This happened with my son-in-law.'

    Last updated at 1:52 AM on 21st October 2009

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