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COLD FEET JOHN'S DEADLY BINGE; 12hr bender as pals say he's drinking himself to death.

COLD FEET star John Thomson is drinking himself to death, his friends feared last night.

The booze-addicted actor went on a 12-hour bender on Comic Relief day.

And as millions of viewers

look forward to tonight's last-ever episode of Cold Feet, Thomson's chauffeur has revealed the full horrific extent of the star's boozing.

Mike Manaku, 36, told The People: "If he doesn't sort himself out he will die."

Pals say Thomson, 33, has been boozing heavily since being voted off Celebrity Fame Academy last Monday. He's meant to be drying out after spending time in the Priory Clinic last year.

The star - lovable Pete Gifford in ITV comedy-drama Cold Feet - was still boozing in the early hours yesterday after drinking all Friday afternoon before going on the BBC's live Comic Relief.

He downed large amounts of wine and whisky and was visibly drunk just hours before the show.

We watched as the roly-poly star - still hung over from the previous night's boozing - started his binge at 12.15pm in the exclusive Groucho Club in Soho, London.

Thomson left at 1pm with fellow comedian Roland Rivron and walked to the nearby trendy Palms of Goa restaurant where they shared three bottles of wine with a curry. They spent pounds 90, half of which went on booze. A third friend joined them and they returned to the members-only Groucho club at around 2.50pm.

Thomson was already showing signs of drunkenness.

He stood at the downstairs bar and downed a large whisky in one go, then went upstairs to a more private bar.

An onlooker said: "It was clear that he'd already had a skinful."

He was due at the BBC studios in White City, West London in less than three hours but he was still boozing. Petrified his drinking would be exposed by waiting photographers, he managed to secretly slip out of a back door at 4pm and was driven to the studios.

Sweating Thomson was in make-up for some time.

But an audience member said: "John didn't look his best."

Filming finished at 10.30pm but Thomson remained at the studios drinking with Cold Feet co-star James Nesbitt.

He left at 12.38am and was driven - with his head hanging out of the car window as if he was going to be sick - to his hotel in Covent Garden to collect his bags before returning home to Manchester.

An onlooker said: "He had been drinking heavily and it was obvious for all to see. He was so drunk he had to get his driver to collect his bags for him."

Last October Thomson was admitted to the pounds 3,000-a-week Priory Clinic in Altrincham, Cheshire, after smashing up the pounds 250,000 home he shares with fiancee Sam Sharp, who was then heavily pregnant.
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 16, 2003
Words:464
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