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Paula Yates

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Paula Yates
Paula Elizabeth Yates

(1959-04-24)24 April 1959
Died17 September 2000(2000-09-17) (aged 41)
Notting Hill, London, England
Occupation(s)Television presenter, writer
Years active1979–2000
Known forThe Tube
The Big Breakfast
(m. 1986; div. 1996)
Partner(s)Michael Hutchence
(1995–1997; his death)
Children4, including Peaches, Pixie Geldof and Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof

Paula Elizabeth Yates (24 April 1959 – 17 September 2000) was a British television presenter and writer. Yates is best known for her work on two television programmes, The Tube and The Big Breakfast. She was subjected to intense media attention and scrutiny, owing to her popularity and her relationships with musicians Bob Geldof and Michael Hutchence.

Early life[edit]

Born on 24 April 1959[1] in Colwyn Bay, Wales, to English parents, Yates was brought up in a show business family. Her mother was Elaine Smith (whose stage name was Heller Toren, and who later wrote under the pseudonym Helene Thornton). Up until 1997, Yates believed her biological father to be Jess Yates, who hosted the ITV religious programme Stars on Sunday. A DNA test in that year revealed that her biological father was game show host Hughie Green.[2][3] Jess Yates and Elaine Smith were married from 1958 to 1975. Jess Yates was 19 years older than his wife, and their marriage was unconventional.

Yates described her childhood as lonely and isolated; her mother, she claimed, was absent for much of her upbringing.[4] She attended a village primary school, Penrhos College, and Ysgol Aberconwy. The Yates family ran the Deganwy Castle Hotel for a time,[5] before moving to a house near Conwy. After the break-up of her parents' marriage in 1975, Yates lived mostly with her mother despite having a closer relationship with her father, and also had periods in Malta and Mallorca where she was a pupil at Bellver International College, before returning to Britain.[citation needed]


In 1979, Yates began her career as a music journalist with a column called "Natural Blonde" in the Record Mirror, shortly after posing for Penthouse magazine. She first came to prominence in the 1980s, as co-presenter (with Jools Holland) of the Channel 4 pop music programme The Tube, having been a minor co-host of BBC TV chat shows with presenter Terry Wogan. She also appeared alongside her friend Jennifer Saunders in 1987 for a spoof documentary on pop group Bananarama.[citation needed]

In 1982, she released a version of the Nancy Sinatra hit song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" from the Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One album by B.E.F. (British Electric Foundation). [6]

After the birth of her daughters, Yates wrote two books on motherhood. She continued with her rock journalism, in addition to being presenter of the cutting-edge music show The Tube.

Yates became known for her "on the bed" interviews on the show The Big Breakfast, produced by her husband, Bob Geldof.[7][4] She casually asked the questions she felt people really wanted the answers to: "Is it true you had an affair with Prince?" (to Kylie Minogue) — and persuaded Sting to take his trousers off live on air.

At the time of her death in 2000, Yates was working on a book titled Sex and Death, writing about her life from the moment she visited Hutchence's body in the morgue.[8][9]

Personal life[edit]

Yates met Geldof in the early days of the Boomtown Rats. They began a romantic relationship in 1976 when she flew to Paris to surprise him while the band was playing there. Their first daughter, Fifi, was born in 1983.[10] After ten years together, Yates and Geldof married on 31 August 1986 in Las Vegas, with Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran acting as best man. The couple then had two more daughters, Peaches[11] on 13 March 1989, and Pixie on 17 September 1990.

Whilst married to Geldof, Yates had a year-long affair with American singer Terence Trent D'Arby.[12][13] She had a six-year long affair with actor Rupert Everett.[14][15]

In 1985, Yates met INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence while interviewing him for Channel 4's rock magazine programme The Tube.[16] During this appearance on The Tube, Yates was reportedly asked to leave Hutchence alone by the road manager of INXS when she walked up to him and said, "I'm going to have that boy [Hutchence]". Yates was unmoved by the manager's request and began to show up at INXS gigs everywhere for the next few years, even taking her young daughter Fifi along.[17] Yates maintained irregular contact with Hutchence during the intervening nine years and their affair had been under way for some months before their Big Breakfast interview in October 1994.[18]

Geldof and Yates divorced in May 1996. On 22 July 1996, Yates gave birth to a daughter, Tiger Lily.[19]

On 22 November 1997, Hutchence was found dead in a hotel room in Sydney. The official verdict into his death said that he killed himself by hanging.[20] Yates wrote in her police statement that Hutchence was "frightened and couldn't stand a minute more without his baby". During their phone conversations on the morning of his suicide, he had said, "I don't know how I'll live without Tiger". Yates also wrote that Geldof had threatened them repeatedly, saying: "Don't forget, I am above the law."[21] Yates became distraught, refusing to accept the coroner's verdict of suicide and insisting that it was a case of auto-erotic asphyxiation.[22] She eventually sought psychiatric treatment.

In December 1997, a few weeks after Hutchence's death and while Yates was fighting for custody of her daughter with Hutchence, Yates suffered another blow when a DNA test result confirmed tabloid media reports that Jess Yates, who had died in April 1993, was not her biological father. A paternity test proved that the talent show host Hughie Green, who had died six months before Hutchence, was her biological father.[23]

In June 1998, Geldof won full custody of the couple's three daughters after Yates attempted suicide.[24] She met Kingsley O'Keke during her stay in treatment, but the pair broke up after a six-week romance. O'Keke later sold his story to a tabloid newspaper.[25][26]


On 17 September 2000, on Pixie's 10th birthday, Yates died at her home in Notting Hill at the age of 41 of a heroin overdose. The coroner ruled that it was not a suicide, but a result of "foolish and incautious" behaviour.[27][28] Yates was discovered in the presence of her then-four-year-old daughter, Tiger Lily.[29] A friend disclosed during the inquest that Yates had not taken illegal drugs for nearly two years,[30] and the coroner, Paul Knapman, concluded that although the amount Yates had taken would not have killed an addict, "an unsophisticated taker of heroin" like Yates had no tolerance to the drug.[31]

Soon after Yates's death, Geldof assumed foster custody of Tiger Lily so that she could be brought up with her three older half-sisters, Fifi, Peaches and Pixie. Her aunt, Tina Hutchence, the sister of Michael Hutchence, was denied permission by the judge to apply for Tiger Lily to live with her in California.[32] In 2007, Geldof adopted Tiger Lily and changed her surname to Geldof;[33] as of 2019, Tiger's legal name was Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof.[34]

On 7 April 2014, Yates's second-oldest daughter, Peaches, also died of a heroin overdose, aged 25. One day before her death, she uploaded a picture to her Instagram of herself as a young girl and her mother under the caption "Me and my Mum."[35]


On 14 March 2023, Yates was the subject of a two-part Channel 4 documentary, entitled Paula, which looked at her life and career. The documentary highlighted the intense media surrounding Yates and the often negative coverage in the British press.[36] Paula included interviews with her friends and social commentators including best friend Belinda Brewin, Nicky Clarke, Robbie Williams, Vanessa Feltz and Grace Dent, and used archive footage of Yates and previously unheard recorded interviews, conducted shortly after the death of Hutchence.[37][38] Brewin revealed that she and Yates had been shopping on the Fulham Road in London, when they met Diana, Princess of Wales, who told Yates: "I love it when you're on the front page of the papers, because it means I got the day off".[39][40]

In a review for Paula, Lucy Mangan, writing for The Guardian, hailed the documentary as "a glorious celebration of the most witty, flirty woman to ever grace our TVs" and gave the show 4/5 stars. [41][42] Carol Midgeley, writing for The Times, also gave the documentary 4/5 stars, opining that Yates was a "fizzling force of nature".[43] Gerard Gilbert, writing for the newspaper I, rated the documentary 3/5 stars, adding that he "was left with a tragic sense that Yates’s untimely death robbed us of an intriguing second act".[44]

The first episode of the documentary garnered 970,000 viewers, beating that night's BBC2 and Channel 5 offerings.[45]


Selected credits[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1982–1987 The Tube Presenter 122 episodes
1982–1992 Wogan Herself 6 episodes
1985 Fashion Aid
1988 French and Saunders Episode: Christmas Special
1992–1995 The Big Breakfast Herself/ On the Bed Interviewer
1995 Sex with Paula Presenter
2000 Friday Night's All Wright Herself Episode dated 18 February 2000
2019 Mystify: Michael Hutchence Herself Feature documentary; archive footage
2023 Paula 2-part Channel 4 documentary


Yates was the author of several books, including:

  • Rock Stars in Their Underpants (1980) [46]
  • A Tail of Two Kitties (1983)
  • Blondes (1983)
  • Sex with Paula Yates (1986)
  • The Fun Starts Here (1990)
  • The Fun Don't Stop: Loads of Rip-roaring Activities for You and Your Toddler (1991)
  • And the Fun Goes On: A Practical Guide to Playing and Learning with Your Pre-school Child (1991)
  • Village People (1993)
  • The Autobiography (1995)
  • Sex & Death (2000 Unpublished)


  1. ^ "Paula Yates" Archived 27 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The Telegraph (18 September 2000). Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  2. ^ "'I thought I was at the darkest point in my life – now this'". BBC News. 13 December 1997. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  3. ^ Branigan, Tania (9 November 2000). "TV star killed by heroin 'binge'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b Bedell, Geraldine (28 February 1993). "Baby, Baby, Baby: Paula Yates, the rock chick who married Bob Geldof and interviews people in bed, has set herself up as an expert on motherhood. Is she serious, or is she just flirting with it, the way she does with everything else?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Historic Deganwy Castle hotel closes its doors". BBC News. 11 January 2010. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  6. ^ "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". Secondhandsongs.com. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  7. ^ Hodgson, Michael (6 November 2000). "The Paula I knew". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  8. ^ Potton, Ed (2 March 2023). "Paula Yates, her untold story". The Times. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Paula". 13 March 2023. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  10. ^ Geldof, Bob (March 1987). Is That It? (First ed.). London: Penguin. pp. 360 pages. ISBN 978-1-55584-115-7.
  11. ^ "Peaches Geldof calls for end to silly names". Contactmusic.com. 19 January 2006. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  12. ^ Ramsdale, Suzannah (13 March 2023). "Paula on Channel 4 review: The sad, but familiar, tale of how a unique talent lost her way". Yahoo and Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  13. ^ Mangan, Lucy (13 March 2023). "Paula review – a glorious celebration of the most witty, flirty woman to ever grace our TVS". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Edmonds, Lizzie (3 March 2021). "Rupert Everett discusses affair with Paula Yates in latest episode of Piers Morgan's Life Stories". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  15. ^ Pearce, Tilly (3 March 2021). "Rupert Everett 'felt no guilt' having six-year affair with Paula Yates during her marriage to Bob Geldof". Metro. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  16. ^ Satrkey, Arun (23 March 2022). "The star-crossed relationship of Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  17. ^ Bozza 2005, p. 228.
  18. ^ "The passions of Paula Yates". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  19. ^ "The saving of Geldof's soul". The Independent. Ireland. 4 March 2013. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Michael Hutchence planned to leave Paula Yates before death, Kirk Pengilly says". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 February 2014. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Michael Hutchence – Official Website – Library – Section 1". Michaelhutchenceinfo.com. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  22. ^ Evans, Martin (31 October 2000). "Suicide threats of Paula Yates 'drove Hutchence to kill himself'". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  23. ^ "Drama – Hughie Green, Most Sincerely". BBC. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  24. ^ "Yates' turbulent loves". BBC News. 17 September 2000. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  25. ^ "Yates loses custody battle". BBC News. 28 October 1998. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  26. ^ Calnan, Denise (24 October 2014). "Geldof blames decision of family courts for daughters' pain". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  27. ^ Branigan, Tania (9 November 2000). "TV star killed by heroin 'binge'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Heroin overdose killed Yates". BBC News. 8 November 2000. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  29. ^ Hicks, Tony (11 April 2014). "Peaches Geldof died next to her baby". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  30. ^ Yeates, Cydney (13 March 2023). "What happened to Paula Yates? Inside The Tube star's tragic death". Metro. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  31. ^ Branigan, Tania (9 November 2000). "TV star killed by heroin 'binge'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  32. ^ "Tiger Lily to live with Sir Bob". BBC News. 19 December 2000. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  33. ^ "Geldof to rename daughter of Hutchence". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 November 2007.
  34. ^ "Michael Hutchence's daughter Tiger Lily, 22, has been 'ignored' by the rock star's estate – as she is discovered 'living in a London squat after receiving a $900 inheritance'". MSN. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Peaches Geldof: Writer and TV presenter dies aged 25". BBC News. 7 April 2014. Archived from the original on 5 May 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  36. ^ Singh, Anita (13 March 2023). "Paula Yates was charismatic, irreverent, sexy and smart – so why did the tabloids hound her?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  37. ^ Clinton, Jane (13 March 2023). "Paula Yates: How Channel 4 documentary explores her life, death, and relationship with Michael Hutchence". iNews. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  38. ^ Ramsdale, Suzannah (13 March 2023). "Paula on Channel 4 review: The sad, but familiar, tale of how a unique talent lost her way". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  39. ^ "Here's what Princess Diana told Paula Yates in a heart-breaking confession about life in spotlight". International News. 16 March 2023. Retrieved 19 March 2023.
  40. ^ Williams, Zoe (15 March 2023). "It's a good time to think again about Paula Yates. She was the other Diana: hounded by the press for being herself". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  41. ^ Mangan, Lucy (13 March 2023). "Paula review – a glorious celebration of the most witty, flirty woman to ever grace our TVs". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  42. ^ Silverman, Rosa (13 March 2023). "Paula Yates: the untold story by the woman who knew her best". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  43. ^ Midgeley, Carol (13 March 2023). "Paula review — a textured tribute to a rock star TV presenter". The Times. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  44. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (13 March 2023). "Paula, Channel 4, review: This documentary should have dug deeper than old TV clips". I. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  45. ^ "Paula Yates doc informs 970k". Broadcast. 24 March 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  46. ^ Geslani, Michelle (28 March 2016). "Rock Stars in their Underpants may be the most important book ever published". Consequence. Retrieved 14 March 2023.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]