TV broadcaster Adrian Chiles has revealed that he was diagnosed with anxiety after he was axed from ITV’s breakfast show Daybreak.
Chiles, 51, who was poached by ITV from BBC1’s The One Show along with his co-presenter Christine Bleakley in 2010, said in an interview with Radio Times that he “felt terrible” after they were both dropped just over a year later.
“Daybreak was unbelievably stressful because whatever we did, we couldn’t seem to get anyone to acknowledge it was working,” he said.
Chiles, who remained the face of ITV’s football coverage before he was let go mid-contract in 2015, admitted that after first leaving Daybreak he was “self-medicating with alcohol” before being formally diagnosed with anxiety.
“Once I was freed from Daybreak I thought, ‘This will be an easy life now,’ as I was being paid lots of money to present a football match every two weeks. But I felt terrible,” Chiles told the new issue of Radio Times, “and felt guilty for feeling terrible.”
“I spent a lot of time thinking, ‘What is wrong with me?’ I didn’t have enough to do and was over-thinking everything,” he said.
“I knew if I had a pint or two everything would be fine, so I was self-medicating with alcohol. I was already seeing my GP for high blood pressure and reflux, and on one of those visits I was diagnosed with anxiety.”
Chiles began taking the antidepressant citalopram every day, and admits that his anxiety began to affect his presenting before he was “booted off” ITV Sport in 2015 – a move he says he saw coming.
“[ITV] just didn’t want me to do the football anymore,” he said. “They fell out of love with me. You’d have to ask them why, but I knew it was coming. Anxiety had begun to affect my work.”
Chiles said that he began to find ad-libbing live on air “difficult”: “One night at Wembley, I looked at the autocue and I could hardly get the words out.”
However, the broadcaster criticised the way ITV had handled his 2015 departure. “I wish the contract had run its course and it had ended on a handshake, instead of, ‘Right, we want you off-air now’,” he said.
“The way it was done made me look like I’d had my hand in the till,” he added. Chiles now presents on Radio 5 Live, but says he misses television: “I’d love to do more telly again.”
His “dependance” on alcohol is explored in his upcoming BBC2 documentary, Drinkers like Me: Adrian Chiles, which airs on Monday 27th August.
“It’s a stigma for a male in male company to drink moderately,” Chiles said, admitting that alcohol once held a “quiet, vice-like grip” on his life.
He also admitted that has previously broadcast with a hangover: “I’ve turned up at work affected by alcohol like everyone and got away with it. The morning after the night before, where I’m fine on air for three hours and then absolutely wasted afterwards. But not pissed on air, unless you can still be drunk at seven in the morning from the night before which I wasn’t… Well, if I blew into a breathalyser I probably was, but I didn’t feel like I was.”
Chiles regards himself as a typical product of the British drinking culture, something he hopes to highlight in the BBC2 film: “Alcohol is the only drug you have to apologise for not taking.”
The new edition of Radio Times is available in shops and on the newsstand from Tuesday 21st August
BBC2’s Drinkers like Me: Adrian Chiles airs on Monday 27th August at 9pm
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