challenger B

Thirty years ago, I was working at the BBC’s Westminster unit, scraping together sound clips for “Today in Parliament” and “Yesterday in Parliament”. When the Challenger countdown began I didn’t pay much attention to the TV monitors on our desk because, by then, there was nothing all that special about a space shuttle launch. Of course, a few moments later, we were all staring, stunned, at the cloud of debris and the shots of the crowd at Cape Canaveral gazing up at the sky. I don’t recall anyone saying a word around me — we were all too shocked. Just then, Donald Dewar, an MP I had always liked and respected, walked into the open-plan office. I assume he was on his way back from doing an interview on some topic or other. As he reached our desk, he paused, glanced at the TV monitor and gave a shrug. “Trains crash, planes crash,” he said. Then he disappeared.

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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: Instagram: clivephotos
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