Tony Slattery has revealed that he went bankrupt as he battled substance abuse and mental health issues.
The 60-year-old comedian said that “fiscal illiteracy and general innumeracy” as well as his “misplaced trust in people” had also contributed to his money problems.
Slattery appeared on shows such as Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Just A Minute and Have I Got News For You in the 1990s, before he had a breakdown and vanished from public life.
Asked whether he ever ran out of money, Slattery told the Radio Times: “If bankruptcy counts, yes. Not many people do know. I’m telling you.”
Asked if it had been awful, he said: “Yes, it bloody well was. Mark (Hutchinson, his partner of over 30 years) picked up the pieces to some extent. It was my fiscal illiteracy and general innumeracy, my waste, my misplaced trust in people, naivety, stupidity, people taking advantage…
“One’s still in jail. And, yes, in dark moments, I remember how when the money runs out the phone stops ringing.”
Slattery is featuring in a one-off documentary, called What’s The Matter With Tony Slattery?, searching for a better understanding of his mental health problems for BBC Two’s Horizon strand.
The film will follow Slattery and Hutchinson as they visit leading experts on mood disorders and addiction.
It will also address the abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of a priest as a boy.
He said of that experience: “I only remember the first time. Or choose not to. What do you do? Put it in a psychological wastepaper basket and say, ‘That was then’? I’ve shelved it.”
Asked why he disliked connecting his mental health issues with abuse, Slattery said: “I think it might be self-preservation. Carpe diem, today is the day, what is the point of some sort of psycho-archaeological dig going back 52 years?”
Slattery said watching the documentary “was quite tough” and that it “doesn’t do me any favours”.
He added: “The doctors… Well, I was privileged to meet these brilliant people, but they pulled no punches.
“I said, ‘Look, I want it warts and all. No make-up, just a camera.’
“I kept thinking, ‘Oh God, not another has-been celebrity going on like a mewling milksop about my struggle…’ so the only decent way to do it so I could reasonably sleep was just to answer the questions, dead straight, and not make excuses about the way I am now.”
Slattery said he now attended therapy and was speaking to a therapist over the phone during the coronavirus lockdown.
He said: “I’m privileged – because a lot of people don’t get this sort of access – to talk to people who may say, yes, this is worth excavating. So on a bi-monthly basis, I do. Of course in lockdown it’s over the telephone.”
Read the full interview in Radio Times.