How Paula Yates Discovered Her Real Father

Paula Yates
Paula Yates

by Ray Setterfield

August 31, 1986 — Television presenter Paula Yates was married on this day to pop star Bob Geldof, former lead singer with the Boomtown Rats and inspiration behind the Live Aid charity.

What neither of them knew at the time was that Jess Yates, the presenter of a religious programme called Stars on Sunday, and known affectionately as “The Bishop”, was not Paula’s real father.

That honour fell to another television presenter – Jess’s good friend Hughie Green, who hosted Opportunity Knocks, the forerunner to today’s popular tv talent shows across the world. Green was the Simon Cowell of his day.

The fatherhood revelation exploded like a bomb at Green’s funeral in 1997. Noel Botham, a former journalist and drinking friend of Green’s, stunned the congregation when, in a eulogy, he announced that one of Britain's most famous celebrities was actually Green’s love-child.

The claim triggered a media 'who-is-it?' frenzy until a few days later, in the News of the World – Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper at the time – Botham identified the child as Paula Yates.

Shocked and bewildered, Paula later undertook a DNA test, which proved the claim to be true.

Her short life was peppered with controversy – and tragedy.

In 1974, the religious television career of Jess ‘The Bishop’ Yates – the man she thought was her father – was brought to an end when it was revealed he had been having a long affair with a young actress.

Thought to be morally impeccable, Yates, who was married and in his mid-fifties, had to be smuggled away from the studio in the boot of a car and was never allowed back on screen.

Paula, best known for interviewing celebrities on an oversized bed in the popular morning television show "The Big Breakfast", was fired from the programme in 1995.

That same year she left Geldof after falling for Michael Hutchence, frontman with the INXS rock band. The relationship meant that she lost custody of her three children and tragically, Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room two years later. His passing was officially recorded as suicide.

It was shortly after this trauma that Paula discovered Hughie Green, a self-obsessed man who was known to have had a string of affairs, was her biological father. She said in an interview: "I'm horrified. I thought I was at the darkest point in my life – now this."

She had a nervous breakdown, turning to drink and drugs to escape her despair, and tried to commit suicide in 1998. By September 2000, she was dead of a heroine overdose, aged 41.

Published: July 1, 2016

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