I am absolutely over the Moon – how it happened re Breakfast TV… By former Daily Mirror industrial editor TERRY PATTINSON
My former Slough Express editor, Martin Trepte, recently retired, sent me a mysterious message on Facebook. He said BBC journalist/researcher Jayne McCubbin had contacted him via the Maidenhead Advertiser (publishers of the Slough Express) and wanted me to talk about the Moon landings.
I got in touch and she was thrilled to hear from me because she had spent a lot of time tracking me down. (The National Union of Journalists did not get back to her when she contacted them, which is shame, because I am a life member of th NUJ.)
Jayne’s news editor “recalled that Press Gazette had carried a story three or four years ago about a Daily Express reporter who had pulled off the Scoop of the Century while working in Manchester 50 years ago”.
I was wanted for a BBC Breakfast broadcast from Jodrell Bank, part of the coverage on the 50th anniversary of the Man on the Moon. The Beeb offered to collect me by taxi from my home in Maidenhead, but then quickly realised the fare would have been too expensive, even for them. I offered to drive and stay overnight. Jayne said the BBC would pay me 25p per mile and book me into the Alderley Edge Hotel, six miles from Jodrell Bank.
I drove to the hotel with my partner, Valerie, on July 14 ready for the interview and filming the next day. The BBC sent a taxi to pick me up at the hotel and also paid for our bed and breakfast. We enjoyed the experience so much that we stayed another day at our own expense.
I met the current Jodrell Bank director, Tim O’Brien, who was interested in my story. He said a blown-up ragout of the famous Daily Express splash had been in the reception area of the Jodrell Bank visitor centre for many years but was now stored at Manchester University.
The centre is now a massive tourist site, with an exhibition area, cafe, gift shop etc and it arranges lectures on the radio telescope’s history, hosted by academics.
I was also thrilled to meet the First Man on Earth to see the Daily Express pictures from February 1966. He is Ian Morison who was a student astronomer at the time. He said: “I will never forget seeing those images coming through slowly. It was awesome. I have spent the last 53 years thinking that the Russians must have asked us to transmit their pictures for them.”
*PS: American journalists told me at the time they were surprised the Russians had not bumped me off.
You can read Terry’s amazing story of his Scoop of the Century by clicking on the story in our News section below
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