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Wednesday, 26 May, 1999, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Drugs downfall of child star
A defiant John Alford on his way to court last year
John Alford began his acting career as the classroom rebel Robbie Wright in the children's BBC TV programme Grange Hill.

Now the actor faces a nine month prison sentence after being found guilty of supplying cocaine and cannabis.

Alford
John Alford as Robbie in Grange Hill
The 27-year-old Glasgow-born actor was cast in Grange Hill after attending a London stage school from the age of nine where he studied alongside EastEnders' stars Patsy Palmer and Sid Owen.

After appearing briefly in an ITV sitcom called Now and Then, Alford landed the role in Grange Hill at the age of 11.

But the young actor found fame too tough to handle and started drinking heavily. By the time he left the show at the age of 17 he had reportedly spent up to 80,000 on alcohol and gambling.

He later confessed to drinking up to 18 bottles of beer and nine shots of spirits a night.

"When I got ill I went to see somebody. They looked at my liver and told me to stop, which my mum had been telling me for years," he said.

Soft-porn photo shoot

By 1993, Alford was starring in ITV's London's Burning, playing the firefighter Billy Ray. He quickly became a familiar figure as part of the show's Blue Watch team.

His role in the show led to the spin-off release of a record early in 1996. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes was a top 20 hit and the actor performed it on Top of the Pops.

But not everything went according to plan for Alford, even at this stage. In December 1995 he ended up stripping for the Christmas issue of the magazine For Women.

"My agent set me up for a photo shoot for a women's magazine and I arrived there and suddenly realised it was a soft-porn magazine.

"I had to strip naked and pose and I was too embarrassed to admit I had made a gross mistake."

In December 1996, just before he was due to appear in pantomime in Sunderland, Alford collapsed and was taken to hospital in Newcastle suffering from a rare blood disorder.

In August the following year Alford was lured to the Savoy Hotel in central London by a journalist posing as an Arabian prince. The actor was secretly filmed supplying cocaine and cannabis.

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