For decades Hughie Green was a living legend of British TV, and one of the most powerful men in the business, hosting the star-making mega-hit show Opportunity Knocks and changing the lives of countless ordinary people overnight.
But it was his final act – a jaw-dropping surprise from beyond the grave – that would change everything. Shortly after his death in 1997, Green's best friend, Noel Botham, took the lectern at his funeral and revealed that Hughie had secretly fathered one of the UK’s most famous TV presenters (a revelation that supposedly had Green’s blessing).
The ensuing media furore would lead to yet more tragedy, and give the rest of the world a glimpse of the darker side of the man known as “Uncle Hughie”.
This film, from the team that made last year’s critically acclaimed documentary hit Noel Edmonds: The Rise and Fall of Mr Saturday Night, tells the story of one the UK’s most controversial, successful and ruthless television personalities. From his early days as a child star, to his power moves in the early days of commercial TV, to his rebirth as the Simon Cowell of his day with the creation of the modern talent show, Green was one of TV’s greatest Renaissance Men.
But behind the scenes he was not to be messed with, harbouring decades-long grudges against rivals and feeding tabloid journalists stories that would collapse the careers of those who dared cross him.
Not that Green was an angel – rumours abounded that his philandering extended to multiple members of the same family, and even to the contestants on his shows. This world of private vendettas and schemes concocted in smoky pubs would eventually lead to his most heinous act: keeping quiet an affair with the wife of his rival Jess Yates, only revealing that he was the father of television presenter Paula Yates after his death.
It is a story of ambition, revenge, ruthlessness, spite and madness on primetime TV (he was later sacked by ITV for turning their biggest show into his own right-wing political soapbox). It is a story so extraordinary, it could only be true…
The documentary airs w/c 11th March on Channel 5.