Robert Peston reveals his drinking and drug-taking past in new Radio 4 show

Exclusive: ITV political editor admits that he smoked "a lot of dope" from as young as 13, as he reads extracts from his diary in My Teenage Diary

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BBC Radio 4’s fabulously engaging series My Teenage Diary series returns at the end of this month, and first up to confess past embarrassments is ITV political editor, Robert Peston.

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Peston agrees to share his diaries from his younger years with the Radio 4 show, and the picture he paints of his younger years is quite surprising.

In the programme, Peston admits that he drank a lot of beer, wine and cider as a teenager, and smoked what he describes as “a lot of dope”.

“We also, if I’m honest, smoked a lot of dope,” he tells host Rufus Hound in the programme which airs on 31 May. “I didn’t do hard drugs but from about the age of 12, 13 onwards there was a lot of dope around and we smoked it.

“I’m not remotely saying it’s a good thing to smoke any of that kind of stuff,” he added. “I’m just saying that it happened, and if I look around the people that I grew up with, I don’t think it did any of us any serious harm. It certainly didn’t do me any serious harm.”

He adds: “There was a lot of beer drunk, there was quite a lot of wine and cider drunk. One of the reasons I left talking about my diaries until this age was my youngest kid is now 18, so I can’t be a bad influence on him by talking about quite how much we drank in the early 70s.”

The journalist also talks in detail about his bohemian north London upbringing as the son of the revered economist Lord Peston. It  involved canvassing for the Labour Party as a teenager and hobnobbing with various political grandees.

There’s also an amusing moment where Peston reads a diary entry wondering whether then Labour politician Roy Hattersely likes him and complaining that he ignored him during a visit to the family home.

“I personally found him a very friendly chap and I can’t understand why he’s not in the cabinet,” says the slightly pompous Mr P of himself when – like fellow diarist Adrian Mole – he was aged 14-and-three-quarters.

Earlier this month Peston launched his new Sunday morning politics show, Peston on Sunday, to mixed reviews and disappointing ratings.

According to the overnights, the debut show on May 8 attracted just 167,000 viewers on Sunday, a tenth of the 1.6 million figure for Andrew Marr’s rival show on BBC1.

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The new series of My Teenage Diary begins on Radio 4 on 31 May at 6.30pm