Nigella Lawson judges cooking on ABC's reality competition "The Taste," but lately the British lifestyle expert's private life is cooking up serious trouble that may threaten her role on the show.
Lawson's ex-husband Charles Saatchi accused her in a letter made public during a British court case this week of being "off her head" due to habitual abuse of cocaine and prescription drugs. Calling his ex-wife "Higella," he said Lawson also gave drugs to her 19-year-old daughter Cosima.
In an email to Lawson, Saatchi wrote that she "poisoned your child with drugs and trashed her life. Classy!"
Lawson, who has not been charged with any crime, could not be reached for comment through one of her representatives on Wednesday.
In any case, this is an interesting development for "The Taste," which is scheduled to return for Season 2 on Jan. 2. Lawson is one of four judges, including ubiquitous travel and food commentator Anthony Bourdain.
Despite low ratings during Season 1, ABC is expanding "The Taste" to two hours in the key 8 p.m. Thursday slot, facing off against strong competitors such as CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" and Fox's "American Idol."
An ABC spokeswoman declined to comment. But a source close to the production says that Season 2 will go ahead as planned because the episodes have already been filmed.
This could prove a double-edged sword for ABC, however, if the scandal grows in the coming weeks.
The allegations come just months after Lawson's private life exploded with sensationalistic media coverage. In a bizarre, much-discussed incident over the summer, Saatchi was photographed with his hand around a frightened-looking Lawson's neck at a London restaurant. Lawson was widely viewed as the victim in that encounter and the couple divorced.
Now two of Lawson's former assistants are being tried on fraud charges in connection with the handling of her financial affairs. The assistants, who are sisters, say that Lawson gave them free rein to spend as long as they kept her drug use secret -- a claim that Saatchi appears to not doubt.
"I believe every word [they] have said," Saatchi wrote.
What do you think of Lawson and her predicament? Should ABC air "The Taste" as planned?