Sunday 17 December 2017

'I hit rock bottom' - Baz Ashmawy opens up about arrest for drink driving and impact on his and family's life

Baz Ashmawy during an announcement of a new season of programmes on RTE 2 at RTE studios Donnybrook, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Baz Ashmawy during an announcement of a new season of programmes on RTE 2 at RTE studios Donnybrook, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Baz Ashmawy has spoken for the first time about his arrest for drink driving six years ago.

The 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy presenter spoke about the incident, and how it affected him and his family, on the first of his new summer series That Baz Thing on RTE Radio 1 on Wednesday night.

He said he has not spoken about the incident until now because he was "ashamed" and his family "get upset" when he talks about it.

However, he felt it was time to speak out and discuss it in the context of the power of change.

"Six years ago, or one of the last times I sat in a studio like this manning a show with my name on it, I had just spent the night in a Garda station and I had been arrested for drink driving," he began.

"I remember I arrived in to the studio to review the morning papers like I always did and there was my face all over nearly every front page.  I could literally see that my world was collapsing right in front of me. I could read it.  It was there in black and white."

He continued, "It's difficult for me to talk about.  It's something I'm ashamed of and something I hate about myself but, not just that, I kind of passed all those feelings on to my family and the people I love.  It was embarrassing and shameful for them.  I know they get upset when I talk about it so I haven't really spoken about it publicly.

"I suppose I wish it never happened so I just don't talk about it, I was sorry I did it but the fact is I did do it and all the flippin sorries in the world isn't going to change that."

Baz (42) revealed how the incident affected his life and that of his family and wife Tanya.

"The reason I'm talking about it tonight is because shortly after that incident I ended up in hospital with my health.  My contract was cancelled.  I lost my job in radio.  No one would employ me in TV.  I was unemployed for 18 months,  We had a one year old, Hannah, and my missus was 7 months pregnant.

"I swear to God if I could touch it it would turn to sh*t.  I hit rock bottom," he said.

Sky 50 ways to kill Mam_12.jpg
Baz Ashmawy and fiancée Tanja Evans

"You see you can avoid looking in the mirror for a long time but one day when you least expect it you'll catch your reflection and you'll be forced to ask yourself do you like who you see?  Are you happy?  And I didn't.  I wasn't."

He revealed how he turned his life around.

"It took me a long time, years, to change my circumstances but over time I came to realise the power of change.  Sometimes you're directly responsible for your ciricmnstances like in my case and sometimes you have no control over what life throws at you but the one thing that's common to both is how you react or deal with it and that's what tonight's show is about, the power of change."

Baz has since gone on to have enormous success with his Sky 1 TV series 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy which picked up an Emmy for Best Non-Scripted Entertainment in 2015.

That Baz Thing airs on RTE Radio 1 every Wednesday from 10pm for the next seven weeks.

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