December 02, 2021
A medical crisis and an infamous sacking would have floored many people. But the presenter is busier than ever - both on and off screen
Richard Bacon on cancel culture, cocaine and his coma: ‘I’m good at getting back up again’
In July 2018, about 24 hours after Richard Bacon quit his safe, but unchallenging, Job as the host of a daytime US TV show, he went into a coma. When he woke up nine days later, he found himself not just the survivor of a lung infection that nearly killed him, but jobless. And so, 10 days after that, he was pitching his idea for a gameshow to the BBC. He remembers being in a bedroom at his mother-in-law’s house, trying on shirts to find one big enough to hide the huge plaster covering his tracheotomy wound, just so he could go into a room with commissioning editors and pretend to be a gameshow host. “I couldn’t find one, and then I just thought: ‘It’s been in the papers; they’re going to know I’ve just been in a bloody coma.’” A tiny pause, then: “The commissioners were very surprised to see me.”
Bacon is speaking over Zoom from his house in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Rebecca McFarland and their two children, having moved there in 2014, after leaving his presenting job on BBC Radio 5 live. He is good company, if somewhat buzzing and chaotic. At one point, he goes off to make a cup of tea. At another, his iPad runs out of charge, and he reappears a while later, smiling and, inexplicably, in a new change of clothes. In Bacon’s entertaining way, everything becomes a funny story, highlighting his haplessness but eventual triumph, even moving to LA without a job (rather, he did have a job but it fell through due to visa issues that he blames on his disorganisation). He barely worked for a year, and was considering coming back to the UK, when a job came up for National Geographic: a hike with Barack Obama, then still US president.
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