As part of the Gwydr Hanner Llawn (Glass Half Full) season on S4C, featuring programmes about alcoholism and drugs, and the battle to break free from dependency, former BBC Wales political reporter John Stevenson, shares his story in a revealing and gripping programme.
In Gadael y Gwter: Stori John Stevenson (Getting up from the Gutter: John Stevenson's story) the Anglesey-born man retraces a 'lost decade' in his life during which he was an alcoholic, struggled with his sexuality and lived on the streets. Viewers can hear his story on Tuesday, 26 November on S4C.
"I wake up every morning, not to prove anything to anyone else, but to prove to myself that that unmanageable, drunken period of my life is in the past." And the past that the 62 year old refers to is a dark and complex one. It encompasses years of lies, alcoholism, and life as a down-and-out on the streets of Cardiff, Bristol and London. John also says he was bullied in the workplace because of his sexuality.
In a thought-provoking and honest interview with Bethan Rhys Roberts, and by visiting the places where he spent his darkest hours, John looks back and speaks frankly about the hardest years of his life.
Born and brought up in a council house on Anglesey, the son of a cultured quarryman, John felt pressure to conform to the expectations of society at that time. After school he went on to Bangor University to study History and Theology, and it was while studying there that he had his first taste of alcohol.
"I was in my room at the time, preparing my sermon for the next day," John recalls, going on to explain that his friends managed to persuade him to join them down at the pub. "We went to the Globe, I had three halves of cider, and that's where my relationship, my great love affair with alcohol started."
A few years later, in the hope of becoming parliamentary candidate, John got married and had children, closing the door on the truth about his sexuality. This was, in John's mind, "Crucial; it was part of the front you put on - part of the disguise." But before long all the lies became too much, and things started to fall apart. He lost his job and got divorced. He moved to Cardiff and remembers feeling optimistic, as if he'd been given a second chance.
"I remember stepping off the bus and thinking, now, you're in a new city, you're divorced, you can start living as an honest man now; live your life as yourself." He was happy for a while working as a Parliamentary Correspondent for the BBC and having a relationship with another man, but cracks soon started to show in the relationship, and John claims he was bullied in his work because of his sexuality. Things went from bad to worse and the following years of John's life passed in a haze. He drank heavily, slept rough on the streets, and at his lowest point tried to commit suicide. But the dark clouds lifted, thanks to one or two people, and he's now ready to share his story.
As well as John's story, S4C will also broadcast a powerful documentary following the presenter Geraint Hardy and his father John Hardy as they speak openly for the very first time about the effects of his mother's alcoholism on the family - O'r Galon: Yr Hardys - Un Dydd ar y Tro (From the Heart: The Hardys - One Day at a Time) - Sunday, 1 December.
S4C will show other archive programmes during the Gwydr Hanner Llawn season, including Y Daith: Aled Jones Williams, which follows the vicar and controversial dramatist as he questions his own faith and the faith of his Church - Tuesday, 26 November. Then on Friday there will be another chance to see Adar Drycin: Rachel Roberts. Rachel Roberts's body was discovered in Beverly Hills in 1980. This programme looks at the life of the Llanelli-born actress, and asks how someone so popular could feel so worthless and lonely.
On Saturday, 30 November, Karl Francis's docu-drama, Alcoholig Llon, first broadcast in 1984 will be shown again. The drama tells the story of Alun and his battle with the bottle - and with himself. Finally, on Sunday 1 December there will be another chance to see Gwyfyn, a film about a young girl called Jamie Lee and her daily struggle to cope with life with her mum who's an alcoholic.