Twenty years ago today Paula Yates – a devoted mother and talented TV presenter – tragically died from an overdose.
Full of life and laughter and devoted to her children, her friends and fans mourned the passing of one of the biggest personalities in British showbusiness.
Paula was born into stardom. Her mother was a former showgirl and erotic novelist, born in Blackpool, who brought her daughter up in a conventional way.
Until 1997, Paula believed her father was Jess Yates, himself a presenter, who was 19 years older than her mother.
However, just three years before her tragic death, aged just 41, Paula discovered her biological father was another radio and TV presenter, Hughie Green.
Heartbreakingly, Paula admitted she often found her unusual childhood isolating – she even spent time living in a castle – and when her parents divorced she lived with her mother, even though she was closer to her father.
At just 20, Paula embarked on her career as a journalist, writing a column – Natural Blonde – for the Record Mirror and posed for Penthouse maagazine.
By the early 1980s, she had found success as a TV presenter, hosting The Tube with Jools Holland, and even released a single – a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking.
Paul also found love with Boomtown Rats frontman, Bob Geldof, and the pair married and had three daughters.
Their wedding was a glitzy affair in Las Vegas, with Simon Le Bon acting as Bob’s best man.
Paula’s presenting career continued to go from strength to strength and she became hugely famous for her ‘on the bed’ interviews for Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast.
It was here she interviewed INXS lead singer, Michael Hutchence, and the chemistry between the two was instantly obvious.
The pair had first met almost a decade before and it has been reported they were in regular contact ever since.
In 1995, Paula walked out on her marriage to Bob and she and Michael went public with their relationship.
The couple had one daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, the following year – but tragedy was not far away.
In November 1997, Michael was found dead in his hotel room in Sydney, Australia, and an inquest ruled it was suicide.
Paula was inconsolable, and when a paternity test just a few weeks later revealed her biological father was Hughie Green and not Jess Yates, the star began to struggle.
In June the following year, Paula tried to take her own life and her ex-husband, Bob, won full custody of the three daughters they shared.
But just over two years later, on her daughter Pixie’s 10th birthday, Paula was found dead at her home on Notting Hill, North London, with four-year-old Tiger in the house.
An inquest deemed it was not suicide and instead the coroner, Paul Knapman, said it Paula’s death was as a result of “foolish and incautious” behaviour. She had overdosed on heroin.
As she was not an addict, Paula had low levels of intolerance to the drug.
After the inquest Paula’s solicitor Anthony Burton read a statement on behalf of her friends.
It read: “An inquest tells you how someone died, not how they lived. It gives no clue to the fullness and joy of Paula’s life.
“Her friends will always remember her as loving, affectionate and witty.”
And the TV presenter and mum-of-four, regularly described as intelligent and fun by those who knew her, was far from merely a tragic figure.
She was a headline-making celeb who ultimately overcome a drug problem only to then, as an “unsophisticated taker of heroin”, take enough in a moment of madness to accidentally end her life.
But inarguably, that devastating mistake has, inevitably, impacted those she left behind.
How could it not lay the foundations for further struggles for her four daughters? Paula Yates was far more than her death – but her death has undeniably shaped her legacy.
The irony was, of course, Paula was getting her life back on track before she died.
Friends reported she was clear of drugs, and she moved to Hastings for a spell with Tiger to get a break from London life, which helped her keep clean.
It was when she moved back that she appeared to relapse.
Her close friend Belinda Brewin, who visited her on the evening before her death, described to the coroner’s court Paula’s state that night.
She said: “She was slightly staggering, her eyelids were drooping, she was slightly incoherent. I could tell that she had been taking drugs.
“I said, ‘What the hell are you doing this for after all this time?’ She hadn’t taken drugs, illegal drugs, for nearly two years. She said it was the pressure of being back in London.”
It was her best friend Jo Fairley who found her the next morning, visiting the house when Paula didn’t answer her phone. Heartbreakingly, little Tiger Lily let her in.
Jo said: “I rushed upstairs to tell Paula to wake up and took one look at her and knew she was dead.”
Afterwards, Bob adopted Tiger, and brought her up with her half-sisters. It was clear he adored his girls, and the brood was tight-knit.
But understandably, they had suffered unimaginably from their mother’s death. Its impact was bound to have an effect. But no one guessed just how tragic that would be.
In 2014, Peaches own death was to echo, with haunting similarity, Paula’s own. As a teen, it was Peaches who had seemed most affected by Paula’s legacy.
Sharing so much of her mother’s spirit, she forged a career in the media young – and then a fraught spot in the showbiz limelight.
She partied hard and lived life fast.
At 19, it emerged she had been questioned – but not charged – by police after she was filmed exchanging money with a drug dealer in an East London flat in 2008.
After splitting up with boyfriend Faris Badwin of band The Horrors that summer, she met musician Max Drummey, and married him in a Las Vegas ceremony 10 days later. Almost immediately, the couple split.
He later claimed it had been a publicity stunt. She’d been 11 when her mum died.
Peaches told Elle magazine in 2011: “I remember the day my mother died, and it’s still hard to talk about it. I just blocked it out. I went to school the next day because my father’s mentality was ‘keep calm and carry on’.
“So we all went to school and tried to act as if nothing had happened. But it had happened. I didn’t grieve.
“I didn’t cry at her funeral. I couldn’t express anything because I was just numb to it all. I didn’t start grieving for my mother properly until I was maybe 16.”
But when she met musician, Thomas Cohen, Peaches seemed to help her turn her life around.
They married in 2012, at the same Kent church as her mother’s funeral was held and where Peaches’ own would take place just four years later.
Peaches became a mother to two sons, Phaedra and Astala, and regularly appeared on TV to discuss her family life and parenting tips.
She said: “I was rootless and having the kids really anchored me in place and changed my life for the better.
“It meant I had to take care of someone properly, which I wasn’t doing for myself.”
So the news Peaches had died of an overdose in April 2014, found by her husband slumped ‘on the edge of her bed’ at their home in Kent, was a devastating shock.
She had been looking after their 11-month-old son, Phaedra, and he, as Tiger had been with Paula, was alone in the house when she died.
Peaches was found to have levels of heroin in her bloodstream that were ‘likely’ to have led to her sudden death, an inquest heard.
Paula’s remaining daughters today appear tighter than ever in the wake of this second wave of tragedy.
Last summer, Fifi and Pixie were pictured celebrating with Tiger Lily at her graduation ceremony at Goldsmiths University in London.
Tiger Lily, 24, the image of Hutchence, has always kept a low profile, and is in a long-term and steady relationship with Nick Allbrook, from the band Tame Impala.
Few have suffered more than Tiger, who has lost her father, mother and elder sister in such distressing circumstances.
And she has allegedly inherited little from either her mother or father’s fortunes.
It seems, like Fifi and Pixie, she has pulled through the tragedy of her mother’s death – and the double whammy of her father’s suicide, too – with her feet remaining firmly on the ground.