We are all voyeurs, and there is nothing more compelling than the very public breakdown of a major celebrity.
From George Michael to Robbie Williams, we watch goggle-eyed as our heroes destroy themselves in full view of their fans, and detractors. Some, like Robbie, learn to live with their demons. Others, like George Michael, die of them.
The latest star to hit the skids is, of course, Ant McPartlin, one half of Britain’s most loved double act, Ant and Dec.
Ant has clearly been unwell for some time. Last year he admitted his addiction to prescription drugs, and his alleged drink-driving accident last weekend suggests he may also have drink problem.
Driving under the influence is a stupid, stupid thing to do. It is also very dangerous so I trust, if he is guilty, Ant will get the judicial punishment he would deserve.
But he also deserves our sympathy. He is struggling with mental illness. He doesn’t pop pills because he has a headache, or drink because he is celebrating with friends.
He takes drugs and gets drunk because that is a symptom of his illness.
He may be very rich. He is definitely very famous, and has been since he and his shadow Dec were lads on Byker Grove.
But all the money in the world, and all the adulation, will not cure him. Indeed his wealth and fame may make his mental illness worse and may even have caused it.
Mental illness affects all of us. Rich, struggling, famous, the woman next door, none of us are immune. It is part of the human condition.
You only have to look at his haunted face to understand that Ant is in very real pain. I hope he survives it. READ MORE: Susan Dalgety: Edinburgh is a risk of becoming ‘Venice of the North’