Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The death of Mark Speight was the first item on Monday's Newsround at 5pm.

Yesterday The Mail reported that children as young as seven had posted tributes to Speight on the Newsround website and revealed how he had inspired them to pursue art at school. The Mail website said "Newsround broke the news of Speight's death in its programme last night, taking extra care to gloss over exactly how he died. There was no mention of suicide and children were simply told that his body had been found and no one else was thought to have been involved."

A Mail report later in the day claimed that some children had been in tears at the news. Some parents were unhappy that it had been covered on Newsround; others defended the BBC's actions claiming youngsters should not be shielded from the truth. The Mail said that some people believed the BBC should have used the death as a chance to drive home to children the dangers of drug abuse.

Laura Sadler, who played Judi Jeffreys in Grange Hill, and went on to play Sandy Harper in Holby City, was also a victim of drug taking when she fell off a balcony in 2003. It emerged that she and her boyfriend had been drinking and taking drugs. The boyfriend, George Calil, who was questioned by police, had played her drug-pushing boyfriend Sean Hunt in Holby City. The fictional character of Sandy Harper was written out of Holby City in a story which involved her winning the lottery and going to Australia.

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