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Iain Lee admits he felt ‘bitterness’ towards co-stars Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron Cohen


Iain Lee touched upon the bitterness he felt towards his former The 11 O’Clock Show colleagues Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron Cohen whose careers took off after the show while his ‘took a nosedive’.  

The radio host, 47, presented the satirical late night comedy show, which ran from 1998 to 2000, but after he left the show he admitted his drug habit spiralled, leading to him becoming ‘very unstable’. 

Iain spoke candidly on The Paul Chowdhry PudCast about his battles with drugs, the struggles he has faced in the industry as well as his realisation he is bisexual.  

Bitterness: Former The 11 O’Clock Show presented Iain Lee, 47, admitted he felt resentful and bitter towards his co-stars Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron Cohen (pictured together on the show) when their careers took off and his ‘took a nosedive’

Speaking on the podcast, which was released on Thursday, the former I’m A Celeb contestant said: ‘As the show finished and we all got propelled into our different careers, my career started quite slowly going down and then took a nosedive. 

He said: ‘And I’m watching Ricky and Sacha go off to Hollywood and make movies and I’m thinking s***, that was supposed to be me…

‘I always got on well with Sacha and Ricky but for a long time I was caught up in bitterness and resentment and jealousy.’

The former talkRADIO presenter admitted he was taking drugs before he landed the hosting gig and his habit soon escalated when he started earning decent money. 

Honest: In an emotional conversation on The Paul Chowdhry PudCast Iain (pictured in 2019) spoke about his battles with drugs, the struggles he has faced in the industry as well as the moment he discovered he was bisexual

‘Suddenly, I’m earning thousands of pounds a week and I’m meeting a guy that will deliver coke to my door and it went nuts. I had low self esteem so the way I handled it was by taking cocaine and cheating on my girlfriend.’ 

In the raw conversation with Paul, Iain opened up for the first time about his sexuality and his first sexual interactions with men at the age of 14. 

He said: ‘I’d started acting out with older men at the age of about 14 and, for a long time, I felt a lot of shame around that. I’ve never really talked about this.’

He suggested his relationship with his father, who he was quick to explain had never abused him, was the root cause of his ‘acting out’. 

Jealousy: Iain spoke honestly about how his drug habit became to spiral as he watched his colleagues go off and make it in Hollywood. Pictured: Ricky Gervais on The 11 O'Clock Show

Jealousy: Iain spoke honestly about how his drug habit became to spiral as he watched his colleagues go off and make it in Hollywood. Pictured: Ricky Gervais on The 11 O’Clock Show 

In a heartbreaking segment of the episode, Iain admitted he was abused at the age of eight while he was in the Cub Scouts. 

He said: ‘I was very confused about what a young boy…how they are supposed to get affection from older men. For me, it was going in public toilets at the age of 14 and I did that with older men.

‘For a long time, I felt a lot of shame around that until [my therapist] said “you know that’s abuse.” I said, “no, no, no, no, it’s not abuse because I went there. It can’t be abuse because I went there.”

‘And he said “you were 14”…And it dawned on me, it was abuse, you know, finally after years – I got it.’

Drug habit: The former talkRADIO presenter (pictured in 2003) admitted he was taking drugs before he landed the hosting gig on The 11 O'Clock Show and his habit soon escalated when he started earning decent money

Drug habit: The former talkRADIO presenter (pictured in 2003) admitted he was taking drugs before he landed the hosting gig on The 11 O’Clock Show and his habit soon escalated when he started earning decent money

Sacha Baron Cohen in 2007

Ricky Gervais last year

Big stars: Sacha and Ricky have gone on to enjoy huge success 

After leaving The 11 O’Clock Show, Iain began went into radio –  admitting the people who gave him the job ‘could see through the insanity that I was going through as I was getting clean.’

During the honest chat, Iain also spoke about his time on I’m a Celebrity in 2017. 

He explained he had been approached four times to appear on the show and had turned it down, stating: ‘It means your career is over.’

The father-of-two admitted he finally relented when he got divorced from his wife, broadcaster Helena Wilkinson, and he couldn’t afford the deposit on a house or flat. 

In need of the money, he phoned them and asked if there was still a spot for him – later learning he was in fact the lowest paid star on the show that year. 

‘The plan was to go in last and come out first because as a scholar of these reality shows the people that go in late never do well and then have a really lovely holiday. 

Realisation: Iain (pictured in 2018) opened up on the podcast for the first time - speaking about his sexuality and his first sexual interactions with men at the age of 14

Realisation: Iain (pictured in 2018) opened up on the podcast for the first time – speaking about his sexuality and his first sexual interactions with men at the age of 14

‘But it didn’t happen like that. I went in last, something kind of clicked with the public – I think mainly clicked that some of the other people in there were a******** and I came third. So that was funny.’

He also went on to discuss being let go from talkRADIO, along with his co-host Katherine Boyle, in June 2020.

He said: ‘I kind of know why they let me go, but I don’t really know why. I’ve made up my version of why they let me go from talkRADIO and I don’t get it.’

After his contract was not renewed he launched his own phone-in radio talk show The Late Night Alternative on Twitch. 

Two months before the duo were let go they had won an award for Best Radio Moment of the Year after Iain helped save the life of a suicidal man who called his late night show – keeping him talking and sending an ambulance to his home. 

Incredible: Footage shows the moment Iain Lee took a call from a man who had taken an overdose in December 2018

Incredible: Footage shows the moment Iain Lee took a call from a man who had taken an overdose in December 2018

The talkRADIO presenter told the middle aged caller he would ‘not allow him to die’ and insisted the tearful man reveal his address so emergency services could find him.

Lee, who has been open about his own mental health struggles, kept the man talking for 20 minutes and later called him after the end of his show to make sure he was safe.

A similar situation had happened the previous Christmas in 2018 when a man, identified as Chris, called talkRadio and said he was ‘lying in the street, dying’ in Plymouth, Devon.

‘We had a little bit of fun with him for the first two minutes and then he said he’d taken an overdose. I asked if he normally slurred his words and he didn’t and then everything changed. 

Third place: After declining the offer to appear on I'm A Celebrity four times, Iain finally decided to enter the show so he could afford a deposit for a new house or flat after his divorce - eventually finishing in third place (pictured)

Third place: After declining the offer to appear on I’m A Celebrity four times, Iain finally decided to enter the show so he could afford a deposit for a new house or flat after his divorce – eventually finishing in third place (pictured)

‘So I kept him on air and it was horrendous, it was heartbreaking, it was humbling.

‘I got him to describe what he could see and this is the power of radio – people were texting in saying they knew where he was. It took half an hour from him calling in to the police arriving, and I just kept talking.’

Iain has previously been open about his own battles with mental health and depression, revealing he once ‘felt suicidal.’

After the incident people took to social media to praise the DJ for his actions. 

For help call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org 



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