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Paula Yates

Paula Yates
Born Paula Elizabeth Yates
(1959-04-24)24 April 1959
Colwyn Bay, Wales
Died 17 September 2000(2000-09-17) (aged 41)
London, England
Cause of death Accidental Heroin overdose
Occupation Television presenter, writer
Years active 1980–2000
Known for The Tube
The Big Breakfast
Spouse(s) Bob Geldof (m. 1986; div. 1996)
Partner(s) Michael Hutchence (1995–97)
Children 4; including Peaches Geldof and Pixie Geldof
Parent(s) Hughie Green
Elaine Smith
Jess Yates

Paula Elizabeth Yates (24 April 1959[1] – 17 September 2000) was a British television presenter and writer, best known for her work on two television programmes, The Tube and The Big Breakfast.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Death 4
  • Books 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, Yates was brought up in a show business family. Her mother was Elaine Smith, a former showgirl, actress and writer of erotic novels, who used the stage name Heller Toren. Until late in her life, Yates believed her biological father to be Jess Yates, who hosted the ITV religious programme Stars on Sunday. Jess Yates and Elaine Smith were married from 1958 to 1975. Jess Yates was sixteen years older than his wife, and their marriage was unconventional.

In an unsettled childhood, Paula attended school at Rowen Primary School, Penrhos College, Ysgol Aberconwy. The Yates family ran the Deganwy Castle Hotel for a time, before moving to a large house in Rowen, Conwy. After the break-up of her parents' marriage in 1975, Paula lived mostly with her mother, including periods in Malta and Mallorca where she was a pupil at Bellver International College, before returning to Britain.


In 1979, Yates began her career as a music journalist with a column called "Natural Blonde" in the Record Mirror, shortly after posing for Penthouse magazine. She first came to prominence in the 1980s, as co-presenter (with Jools Holland) of the Channel 4 pop music programme The Tube. She also appeared alongside friend Jennifer Saunders in 1987 for a spoof 'mockumentary' on Bananarama.

In 1982, she released a version of the Nancy Sinatra hit song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'".[2]

After the birth of her daughters, Yates wrote two books on motherhood.

Yates continued with her rock journalism, in addition to being presenter of the cutting-edge music show The Tube. She became most notorious for her "on the bed" interviews on the show The Big Breakfast, produced by her husband, Bob Geldof.

On 27 October 1995, Yates appeared on the quiz programme Have I Got News for You and clashed with Ian Hislop over comments he had previously made about her breast enlargement surgery.[3] Yates referred to Hislop as "the sperm of the devil", to which Hislop replied, "Even your insults emanate from the genitals!"

Personal life

Yates met Geldof in the early days of The Boomtown Rats. They became a couple in 1976 when she flew to Paris to surprise him while the band was playing there. Their first daughter, Fifi Trixibelle, was born on 31 March 1983,[4] named Fifi after Bob's aunt Fifi and Trixibelle because Paula wanted a belle in the family.[5] After ten years together, they married on 31 August 1986 in Las Vegas, with Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran acting as Geldof's best man. The couple then had two more daughters, Peaches Geldof[6] on 13 March 1989, and Pixie Geldof on 17 September 1990.

Yates first met Michael Hutchence in a 1985 interview on Channel 4's rock magazine programme The Tube.

During this appearance on The Tube, Yates was reportedly asked to leave Hutchence alone by the road manager of INXS when Paula walked up to him and said, "I'm going to have that boy." "Paula was unmoved and began to show up at INXS gigs everywhere for the next few years...she even brought her daughter (Fifi Geldof)."[7] Yates maintained an irregular contact during the intervening nine years and their affair had been under way long before the Big Breakfast interview.[8] In February 1995, Yates left Geldof.

Geldof and Yates divorced in May 1996. Yates's daughter with Hutchence, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence (known as 'Tiger') was born on 22 July 1996.[9]

On 22 November 1997, Hutchence was found dead in a hotel room in [10] Yates became distraught, refusing to accept the coroner's verdict of suicide.[11] She eventually sought psychiatric treatment.

In June 1998, Geldof won full custody of the couple's three daughters after Yates attempted suicide.[12] She met Kingsley O'Keke, 26, during her stay, but the pair broke up after a six-week romance. O'Keke later sold his story to a tabloid newspaper.[13]

While Yates was fighting for custody of Tiger, it was reported in the media that Jess Yates was not Yates's biological father. A paternity test proved that the talent show host Hughie Green, who died six months before Hutchence, was her biological father.[14]


On 17 September 2000, on Pixie's 10th birthday, Yates, 41, died at her home in London of an accidental heroin overdose. The coroner ruled that it was not a suicide, but a result of "foolish and incautious" behaviour.[15][16] A friend disclosed during the inquest that Yates had not taken illegal drugs for nearly two years, and the coroner, Paul Knapman, concluded that though the amount Yates had taken would not have killed an addict, as "an unsophisticated taker of heroin" Yates had no tolerance to the drug.[17]

Soon after her death, Geldof assumed foster custody of Tiger Lily with the willing consent of Hutchence's parents, so that she could be brought up with her three older half-sisters, Fifi, Peaches and Pixie. Her aunt, Tina Hutchence, the sister of Michael Hutchence, was denied permission by the judge to apply for Tiger Lily to live with her in California.[18]

In 2007, Geldof applied to a British court for and was granted formal adoption of Tiger Lily and a change of her surname to Geldof, despite opposition from Hutchence's mother and sister.[19] Since January 2008 her legal full name has been Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof.


Paula Yates was the author of several books, including:

  • Rock Stars in Their Underpants (1980)
  • A Tail of Two Kitties (1983)
  • Blondes (1983)
  • Sex with Paula Yates (1986)
  • The Fun Starts Here (1990)
  • The Fun Don't Stop: Loads of Rip-roaring Activities for You and Your Toddler (1991)
  • And the Fun Goes On: A Practical Guide to Playing and Learning with Your Pre-school Child (1991)
  • Village People (1993)


  1. ^ BFI biodata "Checked birth at the Family Records Centre, London. Born in 1959 in the Aled, Wales registration district."
  2. ^ "'"These Boots Are Made for Walkin. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  3. ^ One in the Eye
  4. ^ Fifi Trixibelle Geldof IMDb listing
  5. ^ Geldof, Bob (March 1987). Is That It? (First ed.). London: Penguin. pp. 360 pages.  
  6. ^ "Peaches Geldof calls for end to silly names".  
  7. ^ Bozza, Anthony and INXS.INXS Story To Story: The Official Autobiography.London. Bantam.2005.228.
  8. ^ "The passions of Paula Yates". Irish Independent. 
  9. ^ Bob Geldof at Astrodatabank
  10. ^ "Michael Hutchence – Official Website – Library – Section 1". Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  11. ^ Evans, Martin (31 October 2000). "'"Suicide threats of Paula Yates 'drove Hutchence to kill himself. The Independent (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Yates' turbulent loves". BBC News. 17 September 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Yates loses custody battle". BBC News. 28 October 1998. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Drama – Hughie Green, Most Sincerely". BBC. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  15. ^ Branigan, Tania (9 November 2000). "'"TV star killed by heroin 'binge. The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "Heroin overdose killed Yates". BBC News. 8 November 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Branigan, Tania (9 November 2000). "'"TV star killed by heroin 'binge. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "Tiger Lily to live with Sir Bob". BBC News. 19 December 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Mother objects to Geldof Adoption of Tiger Lily". 20 September 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  • Green, Christopher; Clerk, Carol (2003). Hughie and Paula: The Tangled Lives of Hughie Green and Paula Yates. London: Robson.  
  • Rojek, Chris (2001). Celebrity. London: Reaktion Books.  

External links

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