What happened to kids’ TV presenters from cocaine binges to topless photo firing

WE were watching them on our screens before we were out of nappies and this week, Jake Humphrey posted a picture of a reunited CBBC gang.

The sports presenter gave fans a big slice of nostalgia when he shared a snap of Michael ‘Abs’ Absalom’s wedding to Francesca Sanders.

Jake, Angellica, Otis, Abs, Frannie, Barney, Michael, Kirsten and Rani at the wedding

Jake, Angellica, Otis, Abs, Frannie, Barney, Michael, Kirsten and Rani at the weddingCredit: Twitter
Abs as a fresh-faced CBeebies presenter

Abs as a fresh-faced CBeebies presenter

In the line-up, Jake is accompanied by Ortis Deley, Angellica Bell, Barney Harwood, Michael Underwood, Kirsten O’Brien, Rani Price and Abs and his wife.

He penned: “I love a wedding. I love it even more when it is also a CBBC reunion. Your childhood right here?” followed by a heart emoji.

Like Jake, Abs is now a sports presenter and podcaster, while Barney went on to present Blue Peter, until 2016.

Ortis presented The Gadget Show as well as fronting his own Five Live programme and Rani, describes herself as a “TV presenter, sometimes, and mum-of-three always.”

The show has also spawned stellar careers for the likes of Philip Schofield, but not all the familiar faces from the iconic kids’ shows rose to the dizzy heights of daytime TV and Champions League coverage.

Other stars have also found themselves embroiled in scandal, including a Blue Peter star fired for cocaine binges and a former presenter convicted of animal porn.

But some have gone on to very different careers – including a Tory MP and children’s author.

Here’s what happened to the stars of hit kids’ shows when they entered the adult world.

Sarah-Jayne Honeywell – Nude pics scandal

Sarah-Jane was sacked after a racy shoot for PETA

Sarah-Jane was sacked after a racy shoot for PETACredit: Alamy/Instagram

Sarah-Jayne Honeywell joined CBeebies in 2002, fronting the show Tikkabilly before becoming a main presenter in 2010.

But she lost her “dream job” in 2011 after posing naked on a plate of food for a PETA advert.

The mum-of-two, 48, suffered from depression and had suicidal thoughts after losing her role.

But in November, Sarah-Jane recreated the topless shot to mark the tenth anniversary of the original picture, she posing topless on her roof, with a view of Lincoln Cathedral behind her, in an Instagram post.

She now runs a theatre workshop and has her own show on BBC Radio Lancashire.

Katy Ashworth – ‘Child abduction’ case

Katy cooked up a storm on CBeebies while singing cheery songs

Katy cooked up a storm on CBeebies while singing cheery songsCredit: Richard Pohle/Instagram

Katy starred on CBeebies from 2009, demonstrating simple dishes on I Can Cook, while singing cheery songs, as well as being one of the main continuity presenters.

She left in 2016, amid plans to move to Australia with film director Ben Alcott and their son, Charlie, then three.

But Katy became embroiled in a court case, accused of “child abduction” after allegedly discovering Alcott’s affairs with four women and flying home to the UK with her son.

She was cleared of all charges. Now in a new relationship with carpenter Mark Cooper, she welcomed second son Oliver in 2018.

The talented artist now designs cards and paints original family portraits, for sale online.

Esther McVey – Tory politician

Esther went on to be a government minister

Esther went on to be a government ministerCredit: BBC/Getty

Esther’s time on CBBC was brief – she presented a summer holiday show But First This! in 1991.

She went on to present a variety of other TV shows, including GMTV, before branching out into politics, becoming a Tory MP in 2010.

After rising through the ranks to become Minister of State for Employment, she narrowly lost her seat to Labour in 2015 and regained it in 2017.

Her most recent cabinet post was Minister for Housing and Planning, although she was sacked in a reshuffle in 2020.

Stephen Kish – Animal porn charge

Kish appeared in Officially Amazing

Kish appeared in Officially AmazingCredit: BBC/Eddie Mitchell

Stephen starred the children’s show Officially Amazing, which followed attempts to break Guinness World Records.

Known as Sizzling Stephen, he holds 50 records himself including the most toots in 30 seconds of a party horn, the classic toy that unfurls when you blow into it.

But in October, he escaped jail after admitting one charge of possessing animal porn, at Lewes Crown Court.

The 32-year-old, who has run a dog-walking company called Tails of Love Pet Care, had an image that showed “an explicit and realistic” sex act with an animal.

The court heard the image was “grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character”.

Judge David Rennie told him: “You used to have your own slot on TV and yours was a familiar face on CBBC for a number of years.

“This has been taken away from you and you may never get it back.

“What a dramatic and, I have to say, self inflicted downfall.”

Mark Speight – Tragic death at 42

Mark Speight was spotted on CCTV shortly before he took his own life after the death of his girlfriend

Mark Speight was spotted on CCTV shortly before he took his own life after the death of his girlfriendCredit: BBC/Pixel

A talented artist, Mark presented the art programme SMart for 14 years, from 1994.

But in January 2008, the presenter woke to find girlfriend Natasha Collins dead in bed in their West London flat, after a night of drinking and taking cocaine.

Arrested on suspicion of murder and supplying Class A drugs, the 42-year-old was cleared of all charges after the inquest recorded “death by misadventure.

But in April 2008, he tragically took his own life and his body was found by railway workers at Paddington station.

Richard Bacon – Sacked over cocaine binge

Richard fronted Blue Peter but was sacked in 1998

Richard fronted Blue Peter but was sacked in 1998Credit: PA Photos/Rex

Presenter Richard joined Blue Peter in 1997 but was sacked after 18 months when pictures of him taking cocaine at a party emerged.

But he went on to rebuild his career with slots on The Big Breakfast, and Back To Reality, as well as guest hosting on This Morning and, more recently, Good Morning Britain.

In 2018, he came close to death after contracting a double lung infection.

He became ill on a flight from the US and was put in an induced coma after he failed to respond to treatment for pneumonia.

Now 46, he lives in Los Angeles and spends more time behind the cameras, after signing a multi-million dollar deal to create TV formats.

He recently produced the Stacey Dooley hit This Is My House in the UK.

Kirsten O’Brien – Stand up comedian

Kirsten joined CBBC in 1996 and is now doing stand up

Kirsten joined CBBC in 1996 and is now doing stand upCredit: Rex

Kirsten joined the CBBC presenting team in 1996, before moving on to present the trademark art and crafts show SMart in 1999, leaving the show after the death of co-presenter Mark Speight.

In 2007, Kirsten launched her stand up show – Confessions of Children’s Presenter – at the Edinburgh fringe and later toured with it.

Now a mum-of-three, the 50-year-old works as presenter and newsreader for the Andrew Peach Breakfast show on BBC Radio Berkshire, and has also contributed reports for The One Show.

Simon Parkin – Weatherman

Simon with co-star Andi Peters

Simon with co-star Andi PetersCredit: Rex/ITV

An occupant of the Broom Cupboard for five years, from 1987, Simon left for GMTV before moving into radio.

Years later, he surprised viewers by popping up as a weatherman on ITV Meridian – despite knowing nothing about meteorology.

“I went to Bristol for a meeting, audition and screen test and was surprised to be told, ‘Oh, you don’t need to know any of the science, don’t worry about the actual weather!'” he said.

Angellica Bell and Michael Underwood – Secret love


NINTCHDBPICT000753926507Credit: Not known, clear with picture desk

Angellica joined CBBC in 2000 and instantly hit it off with co-star Michael.

The couple didn’t start dating until her first marriage, to Stuart Amory, ended after 18 months, in 2008.

But she later revealed Michael has professed his love for her before she walked down the aisle.

Angellica told the Sun: “Michael and I always had chemistry, but I always had boyfriends.

“He was one of my closest friends. A couple of months before I got married, he expressed how he felt.

“It was really hard but we decided it would be best if he stayed out of the picture, I wanted to give my marriage a real go, I was in love.”

They couple got their happy ending when they tied the knot in 2010 and share two children Elijah, ten, and Keziah, eight.

Angellica now co-presents The Martin Lewis Money Show and the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Michael revealed last year that he is now a primary school teacher after “the phone stopped ringing”.

Andrew Hayden Smith – Hollyoaks actor

Andrew Hayden Smith in the Broom Cupboard in 2002 and now

Andrew Hayden Smith in the Broom Cupboard in 2002 and nowCredit: BBC/Rex

After becoming a child star in Byker Grove, alongside Ant and Dec, Andrew moved over into presenting on CBBC in 2002 hosting UK Top 40 for the CBBC channel for four years.

Andrew then went back to acting, playing Jake Simmonds in Doctor Who in 2006 and landing roles in Russell T. Davies dramas Banana and Cucumber.

In 2016, he joined the cast of Hollyoaks as DS Armstrong and is currently a continuity announcer on ITV and ITV2.

Sue Monroe – Children’s author

Sue, left, in the CBeebies panto and in recent story show

Sue, left, in the CBeebies panto and in recent story showCredit: BBC/Egmont

Sue was one of the original CBeebies presenters, alongside Chris Jarvis, Sidney Sloane and Pui Fan Lee, from February 2002.

She went on to present Wakey, Wakey on GMTV before turning her hand to writing children’s books.

Her books, including The Magnificent Moon Hare, have been translated into five languages and Sue now owns a children’s shop called P.J and The Hare in Cuckfield West Sussex.

Dick and Dom – Cruise DJs

Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow was a huge hit with kids

Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow was a huge hit with kidsCredit: BBC/REx

The comedy duo – real names Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood – hosted their own Saturday morning show for CBBC, Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow, from 2002 to 2006.

They also served as presenters, both solo and as a duo, for the CBBC strand on BBC One.

They moved on to a CBBC sitcom Diddy TV and recently launched a podcast, the Dick and Dom Debate.

Have also been working as a DJ act – Dick Vs Dom – performing at music festivals, students unions and cruise ships.