Children’s TV presenter marks anniversary of co-star’s tragic suicide


Children’s TV presenter marks anniversary of co-star’s tragic suicide

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Kirsten O’Brien has remembered Mark Speight on the 16th anniversary of his death (Picture: BBC)

Children’s TV presenter Kirsten O’Brien has remembered her co-star, Mark Speight, on the 16th anniversary of his death.

Tragically, Speight died by suicide in April 2008 at the age of 42.

His death shook the nation, as many young people grew up loving his work on the art programme SMart.

Speight became one of the first presenters of the CBBC show, working on it for 14 years from its first series in 1994.

Kirsten, now 52, joined SMart in the late nineties and fans quickly grew to love their on-screen banter and friendship.

Paying tribute to Speight on April 7, Kirsten shared a sweet throwback photo of the two of them joking around.

He was a much-loved presenter on SMart (Picture: BBC)

She penned: ’16 years. What a gloriously funny man he was, and so loved.’

The post on X was quickly flooded with heartfelt replies from fans.

‘He is well remembered. My thoughts are with you and those that knew and loved him’, wrote Melancholic4Evr.

‘Mark and Natasha’s story has always stayed with me, heartbreakingly sad but also one of true love. They loved each other so much that he couldn’t see beyond the pain. Thoughts to their families x’, said Pineal_Neil.

‘You and Mark kept me going through my teenage years,can’t believe it’s been 16 years,Mark is still missed Xx’, wrote AngelaLeightley.

In January 2008, Speight found his girlfriend’s body, Natasha Collins, in the bath of their shared London flat.

Speight died by suicide following his girlfriend’s death (Picture: PA)
Kirsten presented on CBBC from the late nineties (Picture: REX)

He was later arrested on suspicion of her murder, but not charged with any offence.

An inquest later determined that Collins had died of a drug overdose and severe burns from hot water, and it was death by misadventure.

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In April of that year, Speight was reported missing and was later discovered to have taken his life near Paddington station.

Two suicide notes were discovered.

Speaking previously about her much-loved colleague and friend’s death, Kirsten recalled the devastation of having to announce the news to CBBC’s young viewers.

‘I felt quite a lot of pressure which is weird because I know it wasn’t about me, but I felt like I was in the eye of the storm.’ 

Recalling the attention surrounding Speight’s death, Kirsten said: ‘I think there will, thankfully, be very few people in life who will ever have to experience the horror of seeing one of your friends in the news headlines and I just remember walking on to the train…

Speight presented on SMart for 14 years (Picture: BBC)

‘You know everyone discards the Metro everywhere, I could just see his face everywhere, all over the train.’ 

Kirsten revealed how people would ask her what happened to Speight in public, sending her into floods of tears. 

When asked how she thinks Speight would have coped if he lived in the social media age, Kirsten said: ‘Thinking about it now, in light of social media, I think there is small room to be thankful that there wasn’t that much social media at the time. 

‘In that period after Tash had died and Mark was still around, I think that he would not of [sic] liked that social media environment at all, which has been proved of late with Caroline Flack bless her, it’s just not a nice world…

‘In some ways there’s a small mercy that he did not have to experience that social media environment.’ 

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