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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 February 2007, 12:45 GMT
Shameless writer's suicide battle
Paul Abbott
Abbott's comedy drama Shameless is loosely based on his family
Award-winning writer Paul Abbott, who created the TV dramas Clocking Off and Shameless, has spoken of his "constant" thoughts of suicide.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, he discussed his struggle with bipolar disorder and how it feeds thoughts of taking his own life.

"It crosses your mind every day," he said. "You look at a bridge and think: 'Oh, that's high enough.'"

Abbott said his "powerful" love for his two children kept such thoughts at bay.

"They were my immunity," he told presenter Kirsty Young.

Fostering 'rescue'

Abbott, who has won Bafta awards for his work on Clocking Off and Cracker, has dealt with psychiatric problems since his teenage years.

The dramatist said his life began to unravel after his mother left home and, at the age of 11, he suffered a "brutal" rape.

He made his first suicide attempt at the age of 15, when he jumped off a car park roof, and was put into psychiatric care after a second attempt a year later.

Shameless attracts audiences of almost 3m to Channel 4
After being discharged, Abbott went to live with foster parents, who he said "rescued me in a really casual way".

He now deals with his bipolar disorder through prescribed medication.

Shameless, currently in its fourth series, is loosely based on Abbott's upbringing in Lancashire.

It revolves around the delinquent but close-knit Gallagher family, and their stories of scams, sex, drugs, violence and love.

After the first series in 2004, Abbott picked up a hat-trick of awards from the Royal Television Society - including best writer and the judges' award for outstanding contribution to TV, as well as best drama series.

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