In all the years I’ve been watching TV, I’ve stumbled across some real never-saw-that-coming moments. When you watch a film, soap opera, or TV drama, you know that the scriptwriters and directors have worked hard to incorporate dramatic and explosive moments – and we expect nothing less.
But when it’s television that has not (necessarily) been scripted, and especially when it’s live TV, the following classic TV moments prove that it’ isn’t always all right on the night – and viewers are sometimes left stunned, wondering “Did I really just see that?”
1. Judy Finnigan’s Wardrobe Malfunction
This was a real OMG! moment. Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan’s daytime TV show This Morning had just won an award at The National Television Awards. As they got up the podium, the audience dissolved into fits of laughter. The husband and wife presenting duo assumed it was because of the clip that was just shown where Richard was impersonating Ali G. It was then that I noticed Judy’s crop top.
“What is she wearing?” I asked Mum, quite baffled. Judy was known for her chic sense of style but I never had her down as a hipster.
“Exactly!” sniffed Mum.
That’s when it dawned on me. That wasn’t a crop top – it was her bra!
“OMG! The top of her dress has fallen down!”
At the same time, a very gallant John Leslie leapt to the stage and rearranged Judy’s coat – and that was when the penny dropped for the This Morning presenters. Richard announced that the mishap would be edited out of the show before it was broadcast, so Judy reminded him that the show was being broadcast live!
I have to say that Richard and Judy dealt with the incident in very good humour and recovered well. The very next day, Judy’s wardrobe malfunction made front page news and other talk shows could talk about nothing else. Richard and Judy also commented on what had happened on This Morning, with both Richard and Judy stating that they could understand how the dress had come undone when Richard had fastened it securely.
But it certainly wasn’t all bad. Judy was complimented on her, er, assets, and Richard was declared a very lucky man!
2. The Bee Gees’ Run-In With Clive Warren
I remember watching this. As BBC’s Clive Anderson All Talk was not live, the papers had already reported that all had not been well during Anderson’s interview with The Bee Gees. So I wasn’t totally shocked when the legendary music group walked out while in the middle of an interview, but it was still an ‘OMG’ moment!
It started out like any other interview with the audience excited as their musical idols took their seats on stage. Clive asked many questions about their childhood, career etc. while giving them a bit of a ribbing. However the teasing proved to be a bit too much for Barry, who felt that Clive had gone one insult too far and stormed off the stage in a fit of temper, closely followed by Robin who was also equally angry. Maurice was the last to leave and decided to follow his brothers because he couldn’t see any point in continuing the interview without the other Bee Gees. Clive Anderson’s face when he realised that The Bee Gees were being serious about walking off was unforgettable.
The Bee Gees appearance on Clive Anderson’s show divided the nation. Some felt that The Bee Gees had behaved like divas and had a very poor sense of humour, while others thought that Clive had behaved in a very offensive manner and that he owed the Bee Gees an apology.
I just think it was a classic moment in TV history.
3. Grace Jones Clobbers Russell Harty
This incident is not something that I saw for myself when it was first aired – I would have been tucked up in bed by then – but I do remember hearing people talking about it non-stop for weeks afterwards.
Singer Grace Jones, who was huge in the ’80s, appeared on The Russell Harty Show – another iconic ’80s figure – and was more than a bit miffed that Russell kept turning his back to her in order to talk to another guest. Known for being eccentric, Grace warned Russell not to keep ignoring her. He didn’t take her warnings seriously – so she smacked him.
Some people will do anything for attention!
4. Tommy Cooper Dies On Stage
I remember being sat at home with my parents watching LWT’s Live From Her Majesty’, when comedian and magician, Tommy Cooper, whilst in the middle of a comedy routine on stage collapsed and died after suffering a heart attack not only in front of the theatre’s audience but in front of millions of viewers around the country too. I can still remember the audience laughing as they clearly thought that it was part of his act. The show then went to a commercial break. I think it might have been the next day when the tragic news was announced.
5. Peter Smith Admits To Lying About His Age On Popstars: The Rivals
Nowadays, search- for- a- new- pop star shows are two a penny and if I’m honest I’m a little bit bored of them now and rarely tune in. However, back in the day I used to watch them religiously. They really took off after Popstars, in which HearSay were discovered, so naturally we all tuned in to watch Popstars: The Rivals to find out who the new boy band and girl group of the future were going to be.
All was going well until week two when one of the boys was going to be eliminated. Suddenly Peter Smith said that there was something he needed to say. Despite finding it difficult to get the words out, Peter finally announced that he had lied about his age and that he was in fact two months too old to be in the competition.
The audience was stunned; Peter’s fellow competitors – both girls and boys – were in tears; the show’s presenter, Davina McCall, was struggling to keep it together, and if the viewing public were anything like me, then they undoubtedly got a little emotional too. Despite later claims, that Peter’s shock announcement was planned in a bid to boost ratings, I think I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; it was a very brave thing for the young man to do on live national TV.
6. Cilla Black Exposes A Journalist On Blind Date
Blind Date used to be compulsive Saturday night viewing with the fab Cilla Black. It was a show for those who were looking for love – as well as the odd would-be celeb looking for exposure. Isn’t that right Ms. Holden?
However, Nicola Gill, a journalist from Cosmopolitan, took things a step further…
Wanting to write an exposé about the show, she posed as a contestant and got to go on a date with a fellow contestant. Cilla and the Blind Date team somehow got wind of the ‘contestant’s” true identity, and not one to suffer fools gladly, Cilla exposed the journalist on TV – in front of the audience and Nicola’s very disappointed date – before giving her a dressing down for being down right sneaky and for depriving a genuine contestant of a place on the show.
There was never a dull moment on Blind Date but I’d never seen anything like that before. Go Cilla!
7. Paula Yates’s Appearance on Have I Got News For You
Paula Yates became one of the most unpopular women on the planet when she ditched Sir/Saint Bob Geldof for INXS’s Michael Hutchence thus also muscling in on another woman’s man. And not just any woman either but gorgeous Danish supermodel Helena Christensen. So when Paula made an appearance on BBC quiz show Have I Got News For You, no one knew just how memorable and talked about this appearance was going to be.
Ian Hislop took swipes at Paula every opportunity he got. Paula reprimanded him for being so rude. A female member of the audience seemed to agree with Ian.
“So much for sisterhood!” said a very exasperated Paula.
“Is that what you said to Helena Christensen?” asked Ian as the audience gasped.
Paula later got her own back by calling Ian the ‘sperm of the devil’, and looked thoroughly pleased with herself.
“Even her insults come from genitals,” Ian shot back.
I’ve never seen sparring like it.
8. Big Brother 5’s Fight Night
Up until Big Brother 8, when it all started to get a bit old hat, I watched the Channel 4 series (as it was then) every year. Big Brother 5 was probably the most dramatic series ever, with lots of edge of the seat stuff, but nothing was as explosive as Fight Night…
Two of the housemates, Emma Greenwood and Michelle Bass, were believed by the other housemates, to have been evicted in a surprise double eviction. In actual fact the two girls were hiding out in a secret house where they were watching the goings-on in the main house. They got to hear some not so nice things said about them, so when they finally surprised everyone by walking back into the house, it was very clear that they had scores to settle with some of the other housemates.
But nobody predicted just how out of hand things would get when angry exchanges turned into a physical fight, and for the first time ever, security had to enter the house and intervene as things became very violent and aggressive. And according to press reports, viewers who witnessed the violence as it was unfolding live, called he police. A very hysterical Emma was removed from the main house and taken back to the secret house where she spent the night before being evicted for real.
Although things did calm down, the divisions remained and the tensions continued until the series ended. Despite a great deal of unpleasantness, one of the things I liked about this series were the friendships, strong bonds and loyalties within the different groups. I do hope that many of those friendships have endured.
9. Amanda de Cadenet’s Embarassing New Kids On The Block Interview On The Word
As a massive NKOTB fan (always have been, always will be) The Word presenter Amanda De Cadenet’s interview with three members of New Kids On The Block – Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, and an extremely hot looking Jordan Knight – infuriated me and no doubt countless other New Kids fans too. She had spent the few minutes that she had interviewing them belittling the boys; mocking them; making digs at them and poking fun – none of it in good humour. So she wasn’t a New Kids fan, we get that, but she came across as extremely ignorant and unprofessional.
However as every Blockhead back in the day knew, you don’t pick a fight with Donnie Wahlberg and expect to get away with it. The wildest New Kid, who wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything, refused to put up with any nonsense from Ms. De Cadenet and put her well and truly in her place, even implying that her interviewing skills weren’t up to much – and he was right!
It wasn’t the most comfortable of interviews but New Kids’ fans cheered as the smug smile was wiped off Amanda’s face.
NKOTB – 1 Amanda – 0
10. Bjork Goes Crazy
OK, so we all knew that Icelandic pop star Bjork was more than just a little bit bonkers. In fact, I think she liked it that we all thought she was a bit bonkers. But nobody for a second thought that Bjork was a match for Mike Tyson until they saw her fly at a female reporter and attack her with extreme force, and left us all wondering what the hell just happened!
The violently unhappy pop star had just arrived at Bankok International, pushing a trolly which contained her baggage and young son, when she was greeted by British-born journalist, Julie Kaufman, who simply said, “Welcome to Bankok.” That was all it took to push Bjork over the edge and she went straight for the reporters hair, before knocking her to the ground and hitting her. The journalist was more stunned than hurt – though no doubt her pride took quite a battering.
No one could understand what made Bjork flip – until she later revealed that she was annoyed at the reporter for hounding both her and her son for several days.
Ever since this incident Bjork’s been oh so quiet…