BBC BLOGS - The Devenport Diaries
« Previous | Main | Next »

BBC locks up loyalist

Mark Devenport | 11:07 UK time, Friday, 12 November 2010

Whilst motorists around Belfast pulled their hair out last night stuck in the gridlock sparked by a series of security alerts, a leading loyalist found himself temporarily interned without trial - inside the BBC.

To explain - I was just starting to make my way home when I got a call from the "Hearts and Minds" team, concerned that the disruption might prevent their guests, the SDLP Minister Alex Attwood and the new PUP leader Brian Ervine, making it to studio in time for their 7.30 pm programme.

I agreed to fight my way back through the bumper to bumper traffic in order to wait as a standby guest for Noel Thompson.

Around 7 pm Brian Ervine arrived, but I hung on in make-up waiting for Alex Attwood to turn up. Five minutes before the programme was due to go on air the SDLP minister emerged from the storm outside and everyone relaxed.

"Hearts" had been switching their running order around to cope with the late arrivals and in make up we thought we had a good ten minutes to spare whilst Julia Paul's film was broadcast. So the PUP leader enquired if he could use the facilities, and I showed him around to the closest gents, explaining that it is equipped with a slow acting motion sensitive light so not to worry if for a few seconds he appeared to be plunged into darkness.

I made my way back into make up when the studio floor manager ran in to announce that since both guests had arrived the show would begin with their debate. Would they please take their places beside Noel immediately?

I headed back towards the gents to make sure Brian knew which way to go, only to hear an ominous click click noise. The cubicle door wouldn't open, the seconds were ticking away and the PUP leader was locked in.

Sadly it's not the kind of loo door which responds to a 10 pence piece - instead we really needed a skeleton key. We sent an SOS to security, and the make up assistant tried any keys ready to hand, but to no avail.

With the opening credits running (and a studio director, on her last day before starting pregnancy leave, worrying that her baby might arrive early) the time had come for decisive action. After telling the PUP leader to stand back, our floor manager aimed a couple of hefty kicks at the door.

We heard a crack, but still it wouldn't budge. Then Brian tried the lock again from his side and, to everyone's relief, it turned. He was rushed into the studio and had to have his microphone fitted whilst Alex Attwood was already answering the first couple of questions. The debate - about whether government money should be channelled to initiatives which Mr Ervine believes might assist loyalist paramilitaries in changing their ways - went on. The PUP leader looked a little flushed, but otherwise betrayed no sign of his inconvenience in the BBC's convenience.

We have reported the faulty lock to the relevant authorities. I'd like to take this opportunity to refute the tongue in cheek rumour propagated by Brian Ervine after the show that in confining him in a darkened cell like room I was operating to an MI5 agenda.


  • 1. At 3:57pm on 12 Nov 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:


    Very good, I just watched it on the I-Player =-)

    Maybe Brian thought the HET had captured him. They are after all only concerned with the conviction of loyalists!!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 4:17pm on 12 Nov 2010, ManOfPie wrote:



    Interesting techniques, I thought it was Noel Thompson's job to corner the representatives.

    The most fascinating information I took from this blog regards this make-up. So, an imagine of Mr. Devenport was caked in make-up? Is this a hobby of yours Mark?

    Love, PieMam

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 4:53pm on 12 Nov 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    2. ManOfPie
    "Love, PieMam"

    Is that PieMan's wife???

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 6:01pm on 12 Nov 2010, eyeswideopen1 wrote:

    During the Troubles, Irish republican prisoners had escaped from custody en masse on several occasions. On 17 November 1971, nine prisoners dubbed the "Crumlin Kangaroos" escaped from Crumlin Road Jail when rope ladders were thrown over the wall.
    On 17 January 1972, seven internees escaped from the prison ship HMS Maidstone by swimming to freedom. other escapes include Mountjoy prison via helicopter and portloalise goal.
    In March 1975, ten prisoners escaped from the courthouse in Newry while on trial for attempting to escape from Long Kesh. The escapees included Larry Marley RIP who would later be one of the masterminds behind the 1983 escape in which 38 gallant volenteers clocked out of the maze.
    Loyalist escapes up until last night: nil
    Maybe brian was looking for a little street cred among the bus burning hoods in rathcoole and the empty heads in the rex and thought a good way would be to do a little time himself and "copy what republicans have done in the past" by escaping. I was also wondering if the PUP being in the bbc building were pitching for a series of "im a loyalist get me out of here"

    Eyes wide open

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 10:57pm on 14 Nov 2010, ManOfPie wrote:

    "I'm a loyalist get me out of here"

    Very good.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS


Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.