AN award-winning journalist from Royal Wootton Bassett has shared his memories of broadcasting to a record British TV audience ahead of a BBC documentary which airs tonight.

Christopher Morris, now 81, was the BBC newsreader on August 27, 1979 – the day Lord Mountbatten was assassinated after being blown up by an IRA bomb while on his boat off the north west coast of Ireland.

That moment almost 40 years ago led to a collision between the Royal Family, the heart of the British establishment and Irish republicanism.

On the same day 18 British soldiers were also killed by two bombs close to the Irish border – known as the Warrenpoint ambush. Elsewhere, a cruise ship ran aground off the Scandinavian coast and there was a riot at the Notting Hill Carnival.

Close to 27 million viewers tuned in to watch the BBC news that evening – a record for a British TV news bulletin and a figure swelled by the fact its rival, ITN, was on strike at the time.

Christopher said: “I was on my duty shift, it was quite a normal shift, I had just come back from San Francisco.

“I had invested in a nice blue suit with a jazzy tie, ready to go on at 1pm.

“Just before I went on, we had a tip saying that Mountbatten had been killed. I was urging my editor to let us run with that, but he said we had to wait for confirmation from the Irish police.

“So, I did the read as normal, then within about a minute of me coming off air we received the confirmation and I was put back on.”

Lord Mountbatten was an uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of the Queen.

Throughout that fateful day there were four more newsflashes, all of which were hosted by Christopher.

He added: “When it came to the evening news, my editor said I couldn’t announce the death of a royal in a blue suit and jazzy tie.

“So, he despatched me back to my house, which is about a 30-minute drive each way, to find a darker suit and a darker tie. Unfortunately, I could only find a dark blue tie, and someone did complain a few years later.

“Before the evening news, I thought they were bound to bring in the big guns, but it didn’t happen.

“I didn’t realise at the time just how many people were watching, which is probably for the best else I would have been very nervous.

“But because of the adrenalin of being on live news, everything went great.”

Chris has also won numerous awards for his work in TV, including the Golden Nymph at the Monte Carlo International Television Festival and the Silver Award at the International Film and Television Festival of New York.

The documentary, The Day Mountbatten Died, will retell the tragic events at 9pm on BBC2 tonight.