2 Day FM Sydney radio presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the hosts behind the hoax phone call to the U.K. hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was staying said through tears on Monday that they were shattered upon learning that the nurse who was duped by their prank had died.
Greig and Christian, who have faced worldwide fury over the hoax, spoke publicly about the prank for the first time in a televised interview with Australia’s “A Current Affair.” A separate interview on rival show “Today Tonight” also aired Monday evening, reported Fox News.
The nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, at King Edward VII Hospital in London that was duped by the call apparently committed suicide, the hospital confirmed.
The DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in the prank call, in which some details of the Duchess of Cambridge’s condition and care were given. Saldanha was the person who first took the call and transferred it through to Catherine’s ward, the hospital said.
“There’s not a minute that goes by that we don’t think about her family and what they must be going through,” Greig said, voice shaking. “And the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching.”
The DJs said that when the idea for the call came up in a team meeting, no one expected that they would actually be put through to the duchess’ ward.
“We just assumed we’d get cut off at every single point and that’d be it,” Christian said.
“The joke 100 percent was on us,” he said. “The idea was never, ‘Let’s call up and get through to Kate,’ or ‘Let’s speak to a nurse.’ The joke was our accents are horrible, they don’t sound anything like who they’re intended to be.”
“The entertainment value was in us,” Greig added. “It was meant to be in our silly accents. That’s where it was meant to end.”
The decision to air the prerecorded call was made by executives higher up the chain, the DJs said.
Rhys Holleran, CEO of 2DayFM’s parent company Southern Cross Austereo, has called Saldanha’s death a tragedy, but defended the prank as a standard part of radio culture. He has also insisted the station had not broken any laws and had adhered to procedures. On Monday, Holleran said the station had tried at least five times to contact the hospital to discuss the prank before it went to air.
The call has sparked outrage across the globe, with the hosts receiving death threats and calls for them to be fired. Greig said she doesn’t even want to think about returning to the airwaves.
“I remember my first question was, `Was she a mother?”‘ she said on “Today Tonight.” Saldanha had two children.