Sky News presenter Kay Burley spent a mammoth 36 hours filling live TV outside St Mary’s hospital last week as the world watched for that baby. No wonder she got a bit hysterical…
It was the media story of the century. Only there wasn’t much happening. From the moment the Duchess of Cambridge slipped into the Lindo Wing in the early hours last week all eyes were on that door waiting for an appearance – one that didn’t come for 36 hours. Step forward Kay Burley – the Sky News presenter whose ever-enthusiastic, minute-by-minute coverage became the most compulsive viewing of Baby Watch.
‘I’m absolutely exhausted. I just poured myself a huge glass of red wine,’ Kay, 52, told Grazia a few minutes after coming off air following her marathon TV appearance outside the doors of St Mary’s hospital. ‘But it was a moment in history. How would I ever have wanted to be anywhere else?’
By the time The Moment arrived, Kay had been on screen for almost 12 hours – and was understandably slightly hysterical. ‘It’s a boy? It’s a boy! It’s a boy!’ she screamed, raising an octave each time. The resulting clip went viral, something Kay thinks is funny. ‘I was so surprised because I was convinced it was going to be a girl, as was most of the world,’ she laughed.
The announcement was a long time coming. Kay had been on standby for most of July, waiting on tenterhooks by the phone. ‘It was the most nerve-wracking time. I couldn’t leave London because we knew we’d get notification when Kate went into labour. And then she could have had the baby out in an hour.’ In the end, she finally got the call at 7am on Monday morning.
‘I hurtled upstairs and jumped in the shower. I had my outfit laid out ready to go - a bright top so my crew could pick me out in the crowd,’ she recalled. Her son Alexander, 20, then drove her to the hospital so she wouldn’t have to waste time finding somewhere to park. ‘People criticized me for wearing the same colour top the following day. But one was Jaeger and the other one was Dorothy Perkins.’ And besides, she says, she’d only had three hours sleep before being back on camera – so understandably her outfit wasn’t exactly her highest priority.
‘After six hours of stomping around in my heels, I put my flats on,’ Kay tells us of the moment she almost cracked. ‘So I was in my Converse running up and down the road and grabbing people.’ Including a lot of tourists who couldn’t speak English and some who didn’t quite share Kay’s enthusiasm about the occasion. ‘There was a stupid man who said the baby was black [above]. I just ignored him because I wasn’t going to let him ruin the moment for so many hundreds of people,’ she said of the perils of live TV. ‘They say doctors bury their mistakes, lawyers lock theirs up and television presenters broadcast theirs. And that’s about right.’
Her defty handling of what’s got to have been the toughest job in TV earned her plaudits – and a few old friends coming out of the woodwork. ‘I have a BlackBerry so I check that during the day, and I try to tweet when I can. I think I’ve added something like 5000 followers in 36 hours!’ she says. ‘It’s always lovely when people text and say lovely things.’
No wonder when Kate and William finally appeared Kay teared up. ‘I remember William as a baby, which is the first thing that I thought. I also thought about Diana and how she would have felt,’ she said. ‘William was much more relaxed than I expected him to be. He was very chatty and they guided each other, which was lovely. They just looked like a modern, intelligent couple.’
But it was the amazing moment when the Prince of Wales pointed directly at her on his way into the hospital that surprised Kay the most. 'Have you had a long wait?' Charles asked. ‘It was lovely to get that little bit of recognition. We have come a long way from being a little satellite channel to being recognised by the royal family.’
Yep, just like the rest of the world, it seemed even Prince Charles tuned in to get the scoop on his new grandson via Burley. Well, you can't blame him, can you? As for Kay. She charged her phones and was back at work just 12 hours later. Not bad, Burley. We salute you.