British Presenter, Actress and Model
Born 1976 Died 2008
Natasha Collins, or 'Tash' as she was known to her friends and family, was a television presenter and actress, perhaps best known for once appearing in a children's game show, who was found dead in her bath on the 3rd January 2008.
Born on the 7th July 1976, Natasha was educated at the St Michael's Convent Catholic Grammar School at North Finchley in London. After taking a drama degree at the University of Kent she took up acting as a profession and appeared in productions of Chasing Dolphins, The Lost Soul and The Insect Play, and made her television debut in 1999 on See It Saw It, a "madcap observational game show" for children. Made for the BBC by the independent production company Brechin, Natasha played the character of 'See', a court jester to the 'King of Much Jollity-On-The-Mirth', played by Mark Speight, who later became her boyfriend.
Although Natasha's ambition was to become a children's television presenter, her career was limited to small roles in such BBC productions as the drama Real Women and 999 Flood Special. Indeed her most significant role came in 2000, when she played the minor part of 'Betty Peep', (apparently a descendant of Little Bo Peep), in the fantasy television mini-series The 10th Kingdom (which despite being a US production was largely shot in Britain) where she appeared alongside much better known names such as Rutger Hauer, Dianne Wiest and Jimmy Nail. It was shortly afterwards that she admitted "running into a moving car", an incident which left her in a coma. Although she eventually recovered from this accident, it stalled her acting career, and thereafter she largely worked as a model and presenter for corporate videos, with her most recent assignment being a modelling engagement for the Essex based Express Foam, a manufacturer of orthopaedic mattresses whose campaign she had headed for the last two years.
According to her agent Lynsey O'Donnell she was "constantly going through auditions and had a very bright future", whilst on
her entry on Friends Reunited Natasha announced her plans to set up her own production company with compensation due from her accident and to "have a HUGE fancy dress wedding with my ‘Smart’ prince charming Mark Speight!"
Unfortunately nothing was to come of these future plans as at twenty past one on the afternoon of the 3rd January 2008 the police and ambulance service were called to the couple's penthouse at St John's Wood in North London, as a result of a call placed by her boyfriend Mark. Natasha was pronounced dead at the scene, whilst according to an official police spokesman, her death was being treated as "unexplained", and a "man in his 40s was arrested".
The "man in his 40s" was none other than her boyfriend Mark Speight, who was arrested on suspicion of murder and of supplying Class A drugs, and taken to Marylebone police station. According to a "police source" quoted by The Sun, "He did everything he could to save her. He was absolutely distraught afterwards and fully cooperative. He gave a full and frank account of what happened." This full and frank account included details of what The Sun described as "a marathon all-night cocaine binge", after which the couple woke up at around lunchtime on the following day. Natasha wasn't feeling well and decided to have a bath. After a few minutes Speight realised that the bathroom had fallen silent, went in to investigate and discovered Natasha’s lifeless body lying in the bath.
Speight was released on bail, and naturally issued a statement claiming that he "had nothing to do with Natasha's death" and that he was "distraught" at her loss. On the 9th January the Metropolitan Police announced that Speight was no longer being treated as a murder suspect, and stated that although the post-mortem on Natasha's body was "inconclusive", they were treating her death as "non-suspicious". Two months later on the 19th March, the Metropolitan Police further announced that no further action would be taken against Speight in respect of the drugs charges.
Speight's mother Jacqueline later came forward to suggest that Natasha might have died after taking drugs prescribed for a medical condition, which led to suggestions that Natasha 'May Have Taken Wrong Drugs'. As Westminster Coroner's Court heard on the 2nd April Natasha Collins had indeed taken the "wrong drugs", in the form of a "very significant" amount of cocaine. A
consultant pathologist by the name of Sebastian Lucas testified that after taking a large amount of cocaine together with a "significantly high" quantity of sleeping tablets, Natasha had lost consciousness in the bath and suffered hot water burns which covered sixty per cent of her body, including her tongue, and gave the cause of death as "cocaine toxicity and immersion in hot water". The Coroner Dr Paul Knapman made an observation regarding the "adventurous behaviour" the couple had indulged in "within the privacy of their flat" whilst "ignoring the risks", and recorded a verdict of misadventure.
"She was young, beautiful, smart and now she's just another dead junkie."
- Jeff Edwards, TV Star's Lover 'May Have Taken Wrong Drugs', Daily Record, Jan 5 2008
- Tragic Natasha "Was Painfully Thin", 4th January 2008
- David Leppard and Sarah-Kate Templeton, The real face of cocaine culture?, The Sunday Times, January 6, 2008
- Gordon Rayner, BBC children's host died after cocaine binge, Daily Telegraph, 03/04/2008
Some of the sources used, such as her profile on the website of her agency HandE have now disappeared, although her biographical information on Imdb and Lasting Tribute remains. The closing quote are the words of Bruce L. Northwood, Washington, D.C., USA who posted a comment on the Times website.