John Humphrys health latest: BBC Radio 4 host and his past alcohol problem


John Humphrys, 76, has retired from Radio 4’s Today programme today, and over the years the Welsh broadcaster has had his share of controversial moments in the spotlight. Some of the biggest controversies he’s been involved with are the gender pay gap and his interview with prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1987. But in 2006, John hit headlines again when he revealed in a candid interview with The Telegraph that at one stage in his life he was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic. He said: “I used to drink a huge amount; beer, wine, whisky, brandy, you name it; gin anything.

“Absolutely anything. I got hugely fat and was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic.

“The correspondents in those days used to have huge long lunches together.

“I would have a coupe of martinis before lunch, a bottle of wine with lunch, a brandy and a cigar after lunch, then come back to the office, crack open a bottle of wine and carry on drinking.

“I didn’t eat properly and I got all podgy and ill until a good friend took me aside and said, ‘look, John, you have got to stop this’, so I did.

“I wouldn’t be here if I had carried on drinking.

“I certainly wouldn’t be working on Today.”

John revealed he comes from a long line of alcoholics and both his grandfather and an uncle died of alcoholism.

He continued: “There was a lot of drinking in my family. It wasn’t unusual, it was a working-class thing.

“You would go out and drink three or four pints of very cheap beer at lunchtime.”

After giving himself a “terrible shock”, John stopped drinking in excess when he was 32.

He said: “I went the other way. I stopped drinking and ate so many carrots for lunch I started glowing orange.

“I never went to AA, I just stopped by myself.

“Now I might have the occasional couple of pints of bitter, but that’s it.

“I don’t drink very much at all, I just can’t. I’ve never gone back to those days.

“I like to work hard, not play hard.”

The NHS describes drinking excess alcohol as alcohol misuse, and you could be missing alcohol if you feel you should cut down on tour drinking, other people have been criticising your drinking, you feel guilty or bad about your drinking, or if you need a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover.

Drinking excess alcohol can have both short-term and long-term health complications.

The health body advises: “If you’re concerned about your drinking or someone else’s, a good first step is to see a GP.

“They’ll be able to discuss the services and treatments available.”

Another star who’s admitted they had a drinking problem is football pundit Chris Kamara



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