For the first time Claudia Winkleman has spoken in public about the night her eight-year-old daughter Matilda had to be rushed to hospital after her fancy dress costume caught on fire.
In an emotional interview for tonight’s edition of Watchdog, the Strictly Come Dancing presenter described how her daughter’s supermarket outfit went up in flames, leaving her badly burned and in need of several operations.
Matilda was wearing a witch costume last Halloween when the fabric brushed against a candle.
“She went up, is the only way I know how to describe it. It was not like fire I had seen before,” Winkleman told BBC1’s consumer right programme. “We couldn’t put her out.”
“I was talking to somebody, and then I just heard her scream,” Winkleman said. “She just screamed ‘Mummy’ and I turned round and that was that – she was just on fire.
“It feels like she was on fire for hours but the surgeon said that definitely wasn’t the case and it was probably just seconds.”
Strictly fans will remember Winklemen missing three weeks of live shows while Matilda recovered from her ordeal, but this is the first time she’s publicly discussed the incident. She’s speaking out to alert others to the dangers of children’s fancy dress costumes, which don’t have to adhere to the strict fire safety regulations children’s clothes and night clothes do.
“It was like those horrific birthday candles that you blow out and then they come back,” she said, describing her attempts to put out the flames.
“It was definitely life-changing for me. I can’t remember life before it.”
Watch the full interview on Watchdog tonight, 8pm on BBC1