“They’ve f***ed me up good and proper. They’re killing me. They’re f***ing killing me. I just want my life back. They’ve ruined me.”
7 December 2013. Tulisa Contostavlos, former X Factor judge, former FHM Sexiest Woman in the World, former singer with No1 pop-urban rascals N-Dubz, is in her temporary home in north London, howling into her laptop’s video camera. She’s just learnt she’ll be charged with helping to supply Class A drugs to a man who turned out to be Mazher Mahmood, the undercover tabloid reporter.
It’s a crisis point at the end of a hellish six months: in June, Mahmood’s story splashed in the Sun on Sunday. Contostavlos has been in limbo. She’s already fled her £6m Hertfordshire mansion, driven out by the suspicion that paparazzi are monitoring it round the clock. Now she faces prison.
The next day, before she leaves for Charing Cross police station, Contostavlos explains to documentary-maker Jonathan Levi what went on the night before. After the authorities gave notice that she would be prosecuted, she sat with her friends and her cousin, N-Dubz rapper Dappy. They drank, talked, screamed. Then Contostavlos washed 11 Co-codamol down with vodka. Her PA, Gareth, phoned the ambulance.
Contostavlos reports her suicide attempt to Levi calmly, slightly dazed. The mixture of raw self-shot footage and film, almost as intimate, shot by Levi’s crew forms Tulisa: The Price of Fame, a BBC3 documentary that arrives less than a week after Contostavlos’ trial collapsed and she walked free.
Fame is certainly the subject. Beginning with Contostavlos slumped on her bathroom floor after reading the Sun on Sunday story and ending with her, tearful and elated, in the car on the way home from court, the film shows what it’s like in the middle of a media frenzy – and how a media-savvy star handles a situation she can’t control.