Friday 16 October 1987

…DISASTER!
Hurricane winds have been battering London and the south-east, causing damage,
deaths and some injuries.
A trail of destruction has been left across the country.
But not here.
Although we did get to do PE inside instead of outside, because of the weather…

Truth be told, the hurricane barely grazed the east Midlands. There was a disappointing absence of carnage outside my bedroom window and certainly nowhere near enough disruption to mean a day off school. However I was up early enough to enjoy tour de forces from Anne Diamond (well-versed in hosting TV-am in besieged circumstances) and also from Nicholas Witchell, anchoring BBC1 from the only room in Television Centre with a light bulb that still worked:

NAMEDROP ALERT! Many years later I got to interview Nicholas Witchell about this very incident.

“It produced one of the most gratifying responses from people that I can remember in all my years of broadcasting,” he recalled. “I had dozens of letters from people, many of them elderly and on their own, who’d spent a very frightening night, and who had switched on in the morning and found a face which I hope was friendly, if a little bemused, and reassuring.

“It was certainly one of the oddest situations I’ve found myself in, but also – looking back – one of the most satisfying because it was a moment when people wanted and needed information, and we were able to give some of it, even if it was from the ‘Broom Cupboard’!”

3 thoughts on “Friday 16 October 1987

  1. I lived in Yorkshire so was unaffected by the Great Storm. The only thing I remember is watching Gordan Kay being interviewed by Wogan and having to explain how he got the scar on his forehead (a fence came through his car windshield during the storm).

  2. I was a bit further south, so we lost some trees round our way; the little green at the top of our road was stripped of its saplings, and there were branches and twigs all over the place. My main memory is being in the playground the next day (when the winds were still high) and whipping my coat over my head to make a sail to get carried along.

  3. The Gorden Kaye incident wasn’t in that storm, though, it was the almost as big storm in January 1990. In North Wales I was completely unaware of all of this and I was going through a period when I didn’t watch TV or listen to the radio at breakfast time (dunno why, I watched it any other time I could) so I think the first I heard about it was at school. Hence that Witchell footage had become something of a holy grail for me ever since I first heard of it until it finally turned up on YouTube in 2007.

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