Royal correspondent lost for words during live TV broadcast
Showbiz colleagues have pledged their support for veteran royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell after he became lost for words and was forced to hand back to the BBC News At Ten studio during a live broadcast.
The BBC stalwart, who has covered the royal family for years, asked for time to “collect my thoughts” during a piece to camera outside Buckingham Palace marking the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, before giving up altogether.
Paul Royall, the BBC News at Ten editor, later said Mr Witchell was “lost for words” and moved to allay concerns about his health.
He said: “For those asking about Nick Witchell – he’s absolutely fine.
“Highly unusually for Nick he lost his train of thought on the #BBCNewsTen and decided to hand back to the studio.
“This can happen sometimes even to the most experienced and respected in busy live news broadcasting.”
Mr Witchell began trending on Twitter after the incident.
Addressing viewers during the ill-fated segment, the journalist said: “Now what of their son, baby Sussex, no name for him so far. The first Anglo-American birth in the British royal family, uh, now we know, of course, that uh …
“Excuse me, just let me just collect my thoughts.
“The first Anglo-American birth in the British royal family, and it is … it is certain, of course …
“I’m so sorry, let me just once again, uh, hand back to you, Ben.”
It was left to news anchor Ben Brown in the studio to continue with the bulletin after the royal baby item was abruptly ended.
Many people leapt to Mr Witchell’s defence after the bulletin.
His BBC colleague Jeremy Bowen said: “I’ve seen some snide comments about Nick Witchell. Please stop, they’re not deserved.
“He’s a respected and experienced broadcaster, doing his job. I don’t know what happened tonight but it’s certainly no reason to be nasty.”
Sky News anchor Adam Boulton wrote on Twitter: “What just happened to Nicholas Witchell? Great reporter. Something must have been distracting him.”
Viewer Paul McGlynn said: “Just seen Nicholas Witchell on a live BBC news broadcast, he had to pass back to the studio, one of the most experienced presenters so it wasn’t nerves etc, before he gets panned online can everyone at least wait until he is confirmed ok, he deserves that.”
Another, Angela Haggerty, said: “That was a wee shame for Nicholas Witchell on the 10 O’Clock news there, he had a bit of a brain freeze and had to hand back to the studio. But to be fair there are only so many things you can say about a baby being born.”
Mr Witchell became the BBC’s royal correspondent in 1998.
He earned the Prince of Wales’s wrath in 2002 when he slipped up during a live broadcast by wrongly saying Prince Harry had been caught taking cocaine.