The Untold - High Stakes Transcript

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    The Untold

    High Stakes

    Transmission: 11:02am, Monday 11th January 2016

    Network: BBC Radio 4

    Presenter: Grace Dent

    Interviewer/Producer: Laurence Grissell

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    Synopsis

    The Untold is a BBC Radio 4 series in which Grace Dent presents the untold dramas of 21st

    century Britain.

    In this edition, the stakes couldn’t be higher for 26 year old Steve: he needs to prove he’s

    quit gambling by Christmas in order to move back in with his partner and two kids.

    Producer Laurence Grissell follows Steve as he attempts to win back Stacey’s trust in time

    for the Christmas festivities in the family home.

    MUSIC

    Grace 

    Love’s a gamble. You take your chances don’t you?

    Act. Door opens

    Steve 

    Hello, are you alright? Alright kiddies?

    Act. Children laugh

    Grace 

    When Stacey saw Steve 10 years ago – that’s him arriving home from work – she took a

    chance and fell head over heels [in love]. Stacey and Steve live in a little rented house on a

    ‘60s estate in Basingstoke. She’s a receptionist and he works in customer services.

    Lily

    Dinner time!

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    Stacey 

    Come on then.

    Grace

    They’re one of those hardworking families you hear politicians banging on about. 

    Callum 

    … so tasty. 

    Grace

    That’s their son, Callum, he’s six. 

    Actuality 

    Lily 

    Always tasty.

    Grace

    And Lily, she’s two. Callum is fair-haired and smiley and Lily, she’s a tiny strawberry blond

    bundle.

    Actuality 

    Lily 

    Eating my dinner, eating my dinner… 

    Grace

    And for them this is just a normal family night, it’s October, there’s meatballs, they’re

    chatting and giggling.

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    Lily 

    I’m just talking Callum

    Grace

    But that’s not the full story. Stacey’s gamble on Steve hasn’t quite paid off. 

    Stacey

    Eat it nicely.

    Grace

    And the decision she needs to make now is the biggest risk of her life.

    Actuality

    Steve 

    … do you want to come and pick you pyjamas sweetie… 

    Grace

    After dinner it’s Callum and Lily’s bedtime.

    Stacey 

    Give us a kiss Callum.

    Steve

    Mum, mum, I love you so much!

    Steve 

    We love you so much.

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    Grace

    With the kids both tucked up in bed it’s time for Steve to go, because he doesn’t live with

    his children anymore.

    Steve

    The weather could be better today, I will be honest.

    Grace 

    Stacey has kicked Steve out.

    Act. Steve lights cigarette, rain, footsteps

    Grace

    He’s down the road sleeping on the sofa at his stepdad’s. Over three months producer

    Laurence Grissell has been following him.

    Laurence 

    So how long has it been on the – sleeping on the sofa?

    Steve 

    Since April, since April, I was at my auntie’s before that but she had some relatives move

    over… or back across from Australia.

    Laurence 

    What’s it like sleeping on the sofa for such a long amount of time? 

    Steve 

    It’s – it’s uncomfortable, I think it’s the fact I’ve got nothing of my own.

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    Act.  Cigarette lighter

    I’ve got nothing of mine at the moment and also, I mean, I’m a burden on other people, I’m

    interrupting their week. You’re sort of on the edge of your seat all the time, you can’t

    relax, making sure I’m out of people’s way. I’ve been enough trouble for people as it is.  I’ve

    been a burden for long enough. Just, you know, as and when Stacey’s happy for me to come

    back.

    MUSIC

    Grace 

    This is The Untold.

    Steve 

    It was just as simple as the local shop we had had a Coral bookmakers [betting shop]

    opposite and, um… yeah just a couple of signs and that and you find yourself going in. And

    before you know it the first thing I did in the morning I’d check the hashtag on Twitter,

    which was “bookie bashing” and you see people put their winnings up, screenshots, and

    you’ll see people bag thousands of pounds. I think there was one guy he crashed William

    Hill [a betting shop] for the weekend. You think blimey this guy’s having a dream -

    £180,000. So you think 180, wow you know, he’s sorted, he’s sussed, he’s got it made now

    this guy. You think, ah, I’m going to do something here. 

    MUSIC

    Act. Football commentary 

    Steve

    You saw the winners but you never saw the losers.

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    I always thought I was on top of it but we all got the apps on the phone, so you’ve got the

    apps, I had a few online accounts and I didn’t think nothing of it. And the more I started

    playing online the more things that you see, I mean the promotional emails were just

    something else. I mean I signed up with Sky Bet, Paddy Power, Bet Fair [gambling websites] and I didn’t put any limits on it. And at that point it just grew and grew and grew.

    If I lost a Friday night football match I made sure I hit the 11 o’clock Saturday Dutch game

    and if I missed that I had the 12.30 kick off in the premier league. If that didn’t happen I’ve 

    got all the 3 o’clocks in the Premier League, the Championship League, one league two,

    even the Spanish league which kicked off a bit later. If there was nothing I’ve got the 5.30

    on the Premiership and if you lose you’re chasing a win, even to the point where Barcelona

    and that kick off 9 o’clock on a Sunday evening, so I could occupy myself from the Friday

    night with a good 15, 16 different times of matches to try and pick up a win. And then all

    the time I’m still doing my slots [gambling or “fruit” machines]. Every time I went for a

    cigarette – 50 quid, security number, deposit.

    Laurence 

    And the slots were on the phone?

    Steve 

    The slots were on the phone. I’m not happy putting £50 into a machine, I can’t do that, but

    if I click on my phone and say 50 quid, security number, deposit, it’s just digits. I mean I

    started borrowing money off – get loans I had no interest in paying back. All payday loans,

    in your bank within the hour – 400 quid, bang, have it sir. And whatever I wanted it ended

    up in my account at the end of that day.

    It just got worse and worse. And… I didn’t know what I could do about it. And even if I

    did win, I could have won any amount of money and I would have put it all right back in

    which is ridiculous. If I won £2,000 that’s going straight back in. All oblivious to Stacey at

    this point, she didn’t have a clue. 

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    Stacey 

    And then I had a knock on the door from our landlord with an eviction notice because he

    hadn’t kept up with the rent payments. And it was shock, complete shock. I broke down

    into tears, obviously I had the children with me in the house, I just completely broke down

    into tears. So obviously I confronted him about that and that’s sort of when he told me that

    the gambling had got – you know got really bad and he told me to the extent that it was.

    And… I told him to go. It was pure hatred and anger towards him.

    Steve 

    I mean it killed me moving out the family home, it really did, I never spent more than a day

    or two from the kids and then to move out completely – I don’t know I think it was only

    when I’d woken up the following day and I’ve gone god blimey, you know, I’m actually on me

    own here.

    Grace 

    Being told to leave the family home, for me I’d hope that would be a wakeup call – no warm

    body beside you when you wake up, no tiny faces wanting their breakfasts. But not for

    Steve. In fact his gambling problem just got worse.

    Steve

    I honestly thought it would be as simple as – I’m moving out, I’ll win a load of money, I’ll

    come back in, we’re all playing happy families. Just sweep all this under the rug and this is

    going to pay off all my debts, this is going to cover everything I need, it’s going to bring

    myself a lovely holiday and all the rest of it.

    And it got to the April and I got into work at 8 o’clock or about ten to eight as normal, I

    actually did this at work on the work computer which, you know, I should have got me hand

    slapped in the first place anyway… but I got paid my amount of money, I checked my bank

    come 8 o’clock, that’s fine, and everything I had left I lost within the