Grant Denyer: I didn’t give a sh*t if I lived or died
HOURS after receiving Aussie TV's greatest accolade, Gold Logie winner Grant Denyer has revealed for the first time the depths of despair to which he sank in the wake of a broken back and a prescription pain pill battle that destroyed his will to live.
"It was a time where I didn't really give a sh*t whether I lived or died. I felt like I had nothing to live for," he told The Daily Telegraph. "I reckon if I didn't have my daughter at that particular point, I might not be here."
In late 2008, the revhead supercar racing driver come TV presenter was left with a broken back after an accident while jumping a Monster Truck over five cars at Dapto Showground.
"I wasn't quite sure whether I'd be able to walk again so I spent six months lying flat, heavily medicated trying to let it heal … I didn't really cope with that emotionally or mentally," Denyer recalled.
"There are all sorts of traps that come with medications and warnings and no one prepares you for that - it is a hard cycle to get out of. I was just a bit broken, sad, lost."
Looking back, Denyer, now 40, realises he may have been building a dependence on the painkillers.
"I mentally wasn't well, I was on pain medication for long time, and I probably wasn't aware of the effects of that. I just didn't have an education to be able to deal with it. I think I was caught in that trap and a whole whirlwind of emotions that meant I was at my lowest," he said.
"I'd lived life flat out at out at that particular point so it pulled a handbrake on my life and I didn't really cope with that emotionally or mentally."
Denyer was stuck in that trough for a long, long while - and nobody but his wife Cheryl knew. But then his older daughter Sailor arrived.
"That is the only thing that kept me going at my worst, the fact I had someone that loved me and depended on me, and I could not let her down and I think that is possibly the only thing that got me through."
Despite everything, Denyer was never diagnosed for what was clearly a serious bout of depression.
"I never let myself be put in a position where somebody could recognise that. I think everyone who suffers from depression does a very good job of hiding it - I thought I was in pain physically, but I think I was a bit more damaged internally than that," he said.
"It is a bit cleansing and feels healthy to put it out there. People ask what depression looks like and probably looking at these smiley TV teeth of mine, that can be the face of depression. I am only still trying to understand it myself."
A few years after Sailor's birth, in 2014 Denyer and Cheryl checked into an up-market Thai clinic prompting wild claims from Woman's Day - which were vehemently denied - they were seeking help for methamphetamine addiction. It was actually exhaustion. Life was still not quite right.
About then Family Feud came along and on Sunday night, Denyer paid tribute to what the show did for him as he accepted the Gold Logie.
"I really wasn't sure if I'd ever work again or if I wanted to," Denyer said, tearing up. "I wasn't particularly in a very good place. I wasn't very well. I was in a bit of a hole. I was pretty sad. I was a bit lost and Family Feud came along and I was very unwell at that particular time. And Family Feud gave me a ladder out of that hole," he said.
Family Feud is being rested by Ten but Denyer is in a good place professionally and personally. He and Cheryl celebrated their eight wedding anniversary this year, Sailor is now 7 and two years ago welcomed little sister Scout.
And Denyer does have Ten's new show Game of Games coming up.
"It's like maybe Ninja Warrior for families or for the unfit, I like silly telly, there's not enough silly in life," he said.
Raw speech strikes a chord for Jessica Marais
GRANT Denyer's emotional acceptance speech sparked an equally honest response from Jessica Marais - the woman he beat to the Gold Logie.
The troubled actor, who withdrew from the awards after checking into a mental health clinic, won a silver award for her work on Love Child and The Wrong Girl.
And she commended the Family Feud favourite for speaking out about his dark days.
"Your speech moved me to tears," Marais wrote on Instagram. "And gives me strength. Courage in the quiet battle … congrats mate."
Reading the message from Marais had a big effect on Denyer. "I was really worried about her," he said.
"The lead up to this (the Logies) is really awkward and horrible. It is incredibly uncomfortable. You are supposed to act like a politician and I know she was having her struggles and I really felt terrible for her.
"I hope that this process hadn't pushed her over the limit. I felt really worried and troubled for her."
Despite her health battles Marais has a busy schedule ahead with a starring role on new Channel 9 show Bad Mothers announced yesterday.
Marais, who won the most popular female actor Logie last night, dedicated the win to her daughter Scout, family and friends.
Shock win striking a bum vote with victor
THE absurdity of the Gold Logie has been exposed once again - with even this year's winner Grant Denyer describing the new live voting system as "wrong".
After winning the top honour, the former Family Feud host said the gong "should be about excellence, not who has the loudest voice closest to the awards".
His comments come after his Gold Logie victory was credited in large part to a comical campaign led by ABC funnyman Tom Gleeson that ran wild on social media.
It capitalised on the Logies for the first time opening "live" voting to allow people to have their say on the big award in the final week, from Monday, June 25, right up until 7.30pm on Sunday.
Gleeson spruiked the #Denyer4Gold campaign to highlight the irony of a show axed due to low ratings winning a popularity vote on Australia's third highest rating network. Prior to Family Feud being axed by Ten in May, it was averaging just 298,000 viewers an episode.
Denyer, who acknowledged Gleeson's influence in his acceptance speech, admitted the comedian "hijacked" his Logies campaign and said the Gold gong should be an acknowledgment of excellence.
"I think it's the wrong thing for the Logies. Reopening of voting is possibly the wrong thing to do," he said. "People have already voted and invested time. Making it a live competition to the finish line, I don't think it's the right way to do it. I have radio and television and not everyone has that. It should be a level playing field."
Gleeson made his agenda clear in his Hard Chat segment on ABC's The Weekly, and later admitted his plan was "idiotic". But he was quick to boast about his new influence. "#HardChat got @GrantDenyer the Gold Logie," he tweeted. "It got @SophieMonk the Bachelorette. @TurnbullMalcolm, would you like another term?"
- Alison Stephenson