Paula Elizabeth Yates (24 April 1959 – 17 September 2000) was an English television presenter and writer, best known for her work on two television programmes, The Tube and The Big Breakfast. She was in a relationship with musician Bob Geldof from 1976 to 1996. Yates died of a heroin overdose in 2000.
Yates in 1996 with daughter Tiger Lily
Paula Elizabeth Yates|
24 April 1959
Colwyn Bay, Wales, United Kingdom
17 September 2000 (aged 41)|
London, England, United Kingdom
|Cause of death||Heroin overdose|
|Occupation||Television presenter, writer|
The Big Breakfast
(m. 1986; div. 1996)
|Partner(s)||Michael Hutchence (1995–97)|
|Children||4, including Peaches and Pixie Geldof|
Born on 24 April 1959 in Colwyn Bay, Wales to English parents, Yates was brought up in a show business family. Her mother was Elaine Smith, a former showgirl actress and writer of erotic novels from Blackpool, 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 nineteen years older than his wife, and their marriage was unconventional.
Yates described her childhood as lonely and isolated, as she spent much time alone at her rural house; her mother, she claimed, was absent for much of her upbringing. She 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, Yates 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.
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. Yates called Hislop a "cunt" and referred to him as "the sperm of the devil".
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, named Fifi after Geldof's aunt Fifi, and Trixibelle because Yates' wanted a belle in the family. After ten years together, they married on 31 August 1986 in Las Vegas, with Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran acting as best man. The couple then had two more daughters, Peaches Geldof 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 she walked up to him and said, "I'm going to have that boy." Yates was unmoved and began to show up at INXS gigs everywhere for the next few years, even bringing her daughter (Fifi Geldof). Yates maintained irregular contact with Hutchence during the intervening nine years and their affair had been underway long before their Big Breakfast interview in October 1994. 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.
On 22 November 1997, Hutchence committed suicide in a hotel room in Sydney, Australia. Yates wrote in her police statement that Hutchence was "frightened and couldn't stand a minute more without his baby." During their phone conversations on the morning of his suicide he had said, "I don't know how I'll live without Tiger." Yates also wrote that Geldof had threatened them repeatedly with, "Don't forget, I am above the law". Yates became distraught, refusing to accept the coroner's verdict of suicide. She eventually sought psychiatric treatment.
In June 1998, Geldof won full custody of the couple's three daughters after Yates attempted suicide. She met Kingsley O'Keke during her stay in treatment, but the pair broke up after a six-week romance. O'Keke later sold his story to a tabloid newspaper.
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.
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. 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.
Soon after her death, Geldof assumed foster custody of Tiger Lily 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.
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. Since January 2008 her legal full name has been Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof.
On 7 April 2014, her second oldest daughter, Peaches, also died of a heroin overdose, aged 25. One day before her death, she uploaded a picture to her Instagram of herself as a young girl and her mother under the caption "Me and my Mum."
Paula Yates was the author of several books, including: