Newsreader who turned an obituary into a giggling fit

Radio 4's Today programme has long been known for its sober presentation of the morning's news, crisply delivered by famously unflappable broadcasters as the nation munches on its cereal.

At least, that was the case until yesterday morning, when a mischievous producer whispered into the ear of the newsreader, Charlotte Green, as she was listening to an ancient recording of a French folk song. What followed at 8.09am was a memorable case of corpsing – the uncontrollable fit of on-air giggles that is every broadcaster's worst nightmare.

Ms Green's breaking point came after listeners had been treated to a rendition of "Au Clair de la Lune" from 1860, which was described as the first recording of a human voice. When a BBC employee likened the scratchy recording to a "bee trapped in a jar" to Ms Green off-air, it triggered barely suppressed hysteria as she attempted to move on and read the next item – the death of the Oscar-winning screenwriter, Abby Mann, on live radio.

Listen to Charlotte Green get the giggles

Courtesy of the BBC

Ms Green tried to compose herself by saying "Excuse me, I'm sorry", but collapsed back into laughter soon after. Her corpsing spread, with the news presenter, James Naughtie, struggling to suppress his chuckles while introducing the next report at 8.10am about the danger that Iraq may be sliding into civil war.

Reflecting on her breakdown afterwards, Ms Green said some of the blame lay with colleagues, Ed Stourton and Mr Naughtie, claiming their reaction had fuelled her hilarity. "Jim and Ed were laughing so much I started laughing too. We had this ancient recording. I hadn't heard it yet but I was told it was supposed to be someone singing 'Au Clair de la Lune'.

"Someone in the studio remarked it sounded like a bee trapped in jar and I just lost it. I get on really well with Ed and Jim and we are always setting each other off. I was ambushed by the giggles and once I started I found it very hard to stop. In fact the harder I tried, the worse it got.

"Unfortunately the next piece I was supposed to be doing was an obituary. I'm very sorry to the family of Abby Mann, I honestly meant no disrespect by it."

The newsreader, who has appeared on the morning show for 20 years, added that lack of sleep because of the 6am start often led to hysterical behaviour in the studio, sometimes on air. "This is not the first time I've had a giggling fit. There was a Today bulletin about 10 years ago, again with Jim, involving a Papua New Guinean colonel called Jack Tuat. Unfortunately you pronounce his name with a 'w' instead of 'u'."

After Ms Green's loss of composure, Mr Stourton said the programme had been inundated with calls, with some listeners thinking she had been in tears during the obituary. He later explained she had been put off by the recording and was then distracted after a member of staff whispered in her ear.

The programme's editor, Ceri Thomas, said most listeners had commented on "how much they had enjoyed the moment" and added: "When Charlotte loses it, she really loses it." Later on in the programme, her laughter was repeated to listeners as Mr Stourton remarked that they had been besieged with calls begging them to play it again.

On-air hysterics

*Ulrika Jonsson

As a fresh-faced weather girl, an inadvertent reference to sex left her helpless with laughter.

*Brian Johnston

An Ian Botham dismissal inspired the line that Beefy "just couldn't quite get his leg over", which made Johnston laugh. A lot.

*Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield

Cracked up over Paxman's pants.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Senior Account Executive / Account Executive

£25 - 30k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are looking for an Accoun...

Account Manager / Sales Account Manager / Recruitment Account Manager

£25k Basic (DOE) – (£30k year 1 OTE) : Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright A...

Resourcer / Junior Recruiter

£15-20k (DOE) + Benefits / Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright R...

Web Designer / Digital Designer

£25 - 40k (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Web Desig...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments