Strictlys Claudia Winklemans Halloween horror as daughters outfit caught fire
Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman was left broken-hearted after a shop-bought witch costume her daughter Matilda was wearing for Halloween caught fire.
It had brushed against a candle and burst into flames, leading the 51-year-old TV host feeling “scarred for life” at the sight of her then eight-year-old “on fire”.
The incident, which took place in 2014, left the little girl requiring “many surgeries” to fix the damage, while her mum was crippled by anxiety-ridden flashbacks.
Speaking to The Times, Claudia revealed that she turned to close friend and clinical psychologist Tanya Byron, who helped her come to terms with the horror of what she had witnessed.
“I am incredibly lucky that I happen to have an incredible friend, who happens to be in my eyes the world’s best clinical psychologist [when] I was facing something that felt difficult,” she explained.
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“I just knew I would need Tanya. I did [need her] and she put me back together again, let’s just say that,” the Strictly star, who co-hosts the dance show along with Tess Daly, explained.
“I don’t want to use big words because I have to be respectful to [my daughter] and the rest of my family, but Tanya genuinely, well, she saved me.”
The pair had first become close while working together on BBC Three’s The House of Tiny Tearaways back in 2005 – a show which intervened for families struggling to deal with troublesome toddlers.
Yet Claudia could never have anticipated that her friend would step in when her own little one was in crisis.
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The traumatised star revealed that she can no longer remember what life was like before the terrifying accident, which left a neighbour desperately trying to put out the flames with his bare hands.
Jamie Poulton, who suffered second-degree burns while saving Matilda, told the Daily Mail that the costume had turned into a “crackling ball of flames”.
“All the children were wearing the same kit. It was like a potential horror film in front of me, because they were all going to go,” he agonised.
“This material just keeps reigniting and re-burning, and it is sticky, so it melts on the skin. It doesn’t cinder. It remains hot. It was horrific to be honest.”
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In the aftermath, Claudia discovered that although British law has certain standards for children’s nightwear to ensure the clothing is fire-resistant, the same rules did not apply to costumes, as they were classed as “toys”.
In 2015, then-Chancellor George Osborne ordered a review into the situation to make life safer for consumers.
However, the awareness that the move raised couldn’t come quickly enough to save Matilda from agonising pain and Claudia from a life-changing episode of regret, which she says left her struggling not to be over-protective with her family.
On BBC Watchdog, the star lamented: “It feels like she was on fire for hours, [although] the surgeon said that it definitely wasn’t the case and it was probably just seconds.”
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