Belfast Telegraph

Gloria Hunniford tells of her shock at being put on IRA's death list

By Staff Reporter

Gloria Hunniford has revealed that she was on an IRA death list and had to check her car for bombs during the 1970s.

The 77-year-old received the shocking news after recording messages for her radio show, Ulster Calling, from families to British troops sent to serve in Northern Ireland during the sectarian violence in the 1970s.

In her new autobiography, which is being serialised in the Daily Mirror this week, Ms Hunniford spoke of her horror at the news, which she learned while recording morale-boosting messages from families to soldiers serving in Northern Ireland.

"I was stunned. I'd got three young kids who needed both their parents," she said.

"But we'd been doing the programme for the British Forces Broadcasting Service since 1969 and any 'damage' had already been done.

"It was still shocking to hear your name was on a terrorist hit list, but I was determined to carry on. If you let the fear get to you, life would close down. You can't let terrorists win."

Security was upped at Gloria's home and she was advised to always keep her curtains closed and taught how to check under her car for bombs.

"So I did all that - for about two weeks. Then I forgot and got on with my life," she said.

The Loose Women and Rip Off Britain star also recalls her early days as a child entertainer in Portadown, Co Armagh, and working as a reporter in bomb-ravaged Belfast in her new book, as well as the agony of losing her daughter to cancer and her determination to help others through the Caron Keating Foundation.

"I feel like I've had at least nine lives," she says. "But I still have the same passion and drive for work. It keeps me sane and interested in the world and I've no desire to retire," she said.

Gloria had a narrow miss when a bomb went off at the BBC radio studio.

"The building was evacuated but three of us doing the show decided to stay as the building was so solid. The blast erupted and the building shook like jelly."

But Gloria was deeply shaken by another death threat on July 20, 1982, soon after her Radio 2 show launched.

She said: "Two enormous bombs ripped through Hyde Park and Regent's Park, killing 11 soldiers and seven horses. Horrific. I was live on air and we were linking to hourly news bulletins but then I'd carry on playing music, which felt odd. Unbeknown to me, threats were coming in saying 'Get that Irish b**** off the air or we will'. When I finished the show I realised the control room was full of very serious-looking men in suits. They said an extremely serious threat had been made against me. I had to be smuggled out by a back door and taken home by car. I was very shaken up, as I'd only recently moved to London. From then on I was allowed to drive right up to the back of the building and park out of sight."

Gloria also reveals for the first time she was plagued by a stalker while at Radio 2. She says: "This man waited for me outside Broadcasting House every day for five years."

Gloria had security gates and a camera fitted and went to court where a judge said the man would be jailed if he went near Gloria's home again.

  • My Life by Gloria Hunniford, out October 5, £20, John Blake Publishing

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