Phillip Schofield has hilariously recalled how a visit to Belfast amid tight security during the Troubles to switch on the Christmas lights turned into a comedy of errors.
In a series of farcical mishaps, the then lord mayor Dixie Gilmore ended up being swept into the vast crowds and the lights were turned on too soon - only for Schofield and fellow children's TV star Sarah Greene to end up switching them back off.
The episode is recalled in all its side-splitting glory in This Morning presenter Schofield's brilliantly entertaining new autobiography, Life's What You Make It, which was published this week.
Schofield recalls a visit to Northern Ireland in 1987 with Greene, his co-host on the hugely popular Saturday morning show Going Live.
Ironically as the pair left the Europa Hotel amid tight security for the short journey to Donegall Square they started to fear that no one had turned out to see them.
"We were dismayed to see the streets were pretty much deserted," says Schofield. "We both voiced our concern to the RUC guy that was driving us. Had there been a problem? None that he was aware of. Maybe the people of Belfast weren't that bothered that we had come to town, I thought."
It quickly emerged that the opposite was true - thousands of fans had gathered and their "RUC escort was getting nervous. How was he going to get us in?"
They got out of the car, met more police officers and "were smuggled in through a secret back entrance in Donegall Square".
Inside City Hall everyone was "extremely jittery" about the size of the crowd - apart from, says Schofield, the mayor himself who "was perfectly happy: all would be well; 'the crowd would listen to him.' Sarah and I looked at each other with an element of scepticism. Would they? Really?
"Outside the building, it was rammed. There was a huge crowd hemmed into the square. Out in the middle of the crowd was an open, wooden shed that had been temporarily built to house the button to switch on the lights. We had to walk from the main door to that shed in the middle of the crowd. 'They will listen to me,' reiterated the mayor."
Schofield notes that while RUC officers were not happy and organisers were aware the crowd was much bigger than expected, "the mayor was thrilled". Though Schofield doesn't name the mayor, that honour in 1987 fell to the late Dixie Gilmore, a UUP councillor.
The group got ready to depart the safe confines of City Hall, with orders being barked at Schofield and Greene.
"It was all very serious and carried out with military precision," says Schofield, recalling how he was told "we are going to form a tight circle around you Phillip, Sarah. Mr Mayor you are to remain in that circle. Do as you are instructed and listen to the team leader. If we have to abort, we will 'extract' you".
The feeling was, he says, "a bit intense, but bloody exciting".
He continues: "The mayor, resplendent in his red tunic and gold chain, put on his huge tricorn hat topped with a spectacular black feather. The protective circle was formed around the three of us and the doors were opened just enough to let us out. A huge cheer erupted from the crowd.
"Our tight formation began to move through the sea of people like a boat in a storm. I heard the mayor shouting, 'They'll listen to me. Stand aside. Let us through. Stand aside!"
"The crowd pushed forward as we were slowly advancing in our tight circle, protected by the iron ring of the RUC, towards the shed. And then, just for a moment, the circle broke and Sarah and I watched as the mayor got sucked out of the break and into the crowd.
"'Stand aside' I heard him cry. 'Man down' I called."
Schofield recalls how the last time he saw Mr Gilmore "he was drifting helplessly out into the crowd, the black feather of his tricorn hat like a mighty sail on a lost galleon".
He and Greene were helplessly convulsed with laughter though they were not afraid of the vast crowd which was "exuberant and entirely friendly".
To make matters worse, at this point the Christmas lights suddenly came on.
Now "helpless with screaming laughter", Schofield and Greene later discovered "someone had spotted the mayor adrift in the crowd and panicked. They had hit the button and turned on the lights".
In the end he and Greene made it to the shed, gave a speech "and turned off the Belfast Christmas lights".
Also in the book, published by Michael Joseph, RRP £20, Schofield (58) recalls his romance with the late Caron Keating, daughter of Gloria Hunniford.
He first encountered her when he was presenting from the Broom Cupboard with Gordon the Gopher on children's TV and she was introduced as a new presenter on Blue Peter. He was "instantly entranced".
"We had a few drinks and ended up going out for a while. How to describe Caron? Beautiful, artistic, stubborn, wild, unpredictable and one of the world's greatest party animals," he writes.
"Caron would leave a black-tie event and insist she knew a short cut out. Thirty minutes later we'd be lost on the kitchens of the Grosvenor House and sitting with the staff, drinking whisky.
"If I went out with her for a quiet, romantic meal, by the end of the evening we were sharing our table with thirty drunken revellers and someone had invariably found a fiddle to play."