Parma Ham...coming on Christmas Day
and it's still, thank goodness, the only occasion when a PM presenter has "lost it" on air.
Clare English and I were presenting. As was the case then, PM Letters appeared on a daily basis. We would take turns at writing the script each night.
This particular evening, out of the blue - Clare burst out laughing during the live reading of the letters. She lost it completely - tried to get it back - then lost it again even more.
The trigger word, as it turns out, was Parma as in Parma Ham. Once we were off the air (it took THAT long for her to stop laughing) she revealed that a mutual friend of ours was to blame. Stewart would always amusingly pronounce Parmesan cheese by hugely prolonging the 'a'. Paaaaaaaaaawwwwwwrmesan. Well, maybe you had to be there.
Anyway, it seems the way I said Parma Ham that night put Clare instantly in mind of that, and set her off, out of the blue. You can hear her on the clip, through laughter, saying something like "It's the way you said Parma".
Clare and I had worked together for years on PM and before that on BBC Radio Scotland so we were well used to coming close to setting each other off with giggles. This was our most spectacular fall. My favourite bit - if you turn up the volume very loudly - comes right after I've finished speaking, when Clare can be heard squealing with laughter still. All the time I was talking she had her head down on the desk and her shoulders were shaking like a cement mixer. Why we weren't fired I don't know. We did get one or two emails saying we'd been very unprofessional - but many many more saying what a good laugh it had been.
I'll post it here, on Christmas Day.