Nicky Campbell: Don't talk to me about the West Kent Hunt

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The Independent Online

The first time it happened, it was one of those feelings where your whole life goes before you; a chill, almost like death inside. I couldn't believe I'd said it – such a taboo word.

I had to do an interview with the master of the West Kent Hunt. It was early in the morning ... you can imagine what happened next.

The huntmaster tried to make me feel a lot better when she said "Oh, it's a bit of a tongue twister isn't it?" but I felt dreadful.

So when I said it a second time by accident (I was trying to tell the story of the first time I said it) I just felt such an idiot.

Earlier that morning, our editor had joked just before we went on air at six: "Are we expecting our presenters to say West Kent Cunt this morning?" Everyone had laughed. I said with great braggadocio: "No problem Richard." But the unconscious seed had been planted – and once it's in your head there's no getting it out.

Then there's the laughter. Among the presenters, we all struggle to stop ourselves laughing at inappropriate moments, it's like being at school and you're giggling and know you shouldn't be, but it only makes you laugh more. I'm terrible for making my co-presenter Shelagh Fogarty laugh just as she's about to do an interview or read a news item; I'll message her something and she'll start laughing and I just walk out the studio and leave her to it. I know it's terrible. We all do it to each other, all the time. The internal messaging system on the BBC is full of it.

You feel it could be a career-ending moment, because you're reading serious stuff, really sad and poignant and tragic stuff, and it's not good. Probably the best thing to do is close your microphone.

Nicky Campbell spoke to Rob Hastings