Monday 20 November 2017

BBC Play School presenters 'went on-air stoned'

Play School's Lionel Morton (BBC)
Play School's Lionel Morton (BBC)

Murray Wardrop

BBC STAFF openly smoked marijuana at the corporation’s headquarters during the 1960s and 70s and Play School presenters even went on-air stoned, former stars have disclosed.

The corridors of Television Centre often reeked of the class B drug as BBC employees and visiting pop groups regularly smoked joints.

On one occasion, Rick Jones and Lionel Morton, presenters of Play School, got stoned before filming the children’s programme, it is claimed.

As well as drugs, the BBC was apparently also a hot bed of sex with staff “bonking all over the place”.

Recalling his time on Play School for a BBC documentary, former presenter Johnny Ball revealed that drug use spilt on screen in a nativity scene.

He said: “There was Rick Jones, Lionel Morton and myself. They got stoned on the biggest joint you’ve ever seen — in the studio.

“We were in silhouette as the three shepherds with our crooks. Lionel purposely held his crook so the crook didn’t show.

“They were absolutely stoned out of their minds.”

Play School's Lionel Morton (BBC)

Ball, 73, who insisted that he was not stoned himself, added: “I couldn’t work with it. I really couldn’t.”

Others told how a culture of drug use was effectively tolerated at the BBC.

Joan Bakewell, the presenter, said visiting pop stars would often smoke cannabis at Television Centre.

She said: “Of course they smoked and they didn't smoke ordinary cigarettes.”

Sir David Attenborough, the wildlife presenter and former BBC TWO controller, recalled pleading with colleagues: “Look, please, don’t smoke that stuff openly so we can all smell it. Just be sensible.”

Other stars disclosed that staff used their dressing rooms for sexual liaisons.

Former Doctor Who actress Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant, said: “People were bonking all over the BBC. Everybody was doing it on the premises.”

Janet Fielding, who played the Doctor’s sidekick Tegan, added: “Nobody cared whether you had sex in your dressing room.”

Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith with Sarah Greene (Rex)

Former Blue Peter and Going Live presenter Sarah Greene told of her liaisons with former Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith.

She said: “On the occasions when we did see each other we had to take full advantage of that time.”

The disclosures are made in Tales Of Television Centre on BBC Four, May 17.

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