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Shelley Vision: Controllers lost the plot.

Byline: Jim Shelley

TOMORROW sees another chance for readers to watch the film that Channel 4 considered more important than the events at the World Trade Center three weeks ago.

It was famously The Day The World Changed and the day the New York skyline was irreplaceably altered. Tony Blair called it "the worst attack on British citizens since the Second World War".

But for one hour and 17 minutes, Channel 4 continued showing the black and white 1941 Alexander Korda movie, That Hamilton Woman, starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier as Lord Nelson.

So, when the second plane appeared at 2.16pm, on Channel 4 one of Emma Hamilton's servants was bidding her: "There's a matter of some importance I must speak to you about."

Half an hour later, when the Pentagon was bombed, Emma was rejoicing to her mother: "Isn't it splendid. Nelson's done it again. He's beaten the Danes. It's a glorious victory." (Hardly.)

At 3.07pm, when the second tower collapsed live on BBC, ITV, Sky News, and even Channel 5, on Channel 4 Nelson was about to say "kiss me Hardy".

Eventually at 3.15pm with just 20 minutes of the film remaining, the controllers finally woke up to the gravity of what was happening and put Jon Snow on air - which as newscasters go, makes him about as quick off the mark as the fighter pilots defending the Pentagon.

The only other channel to ignore it was probably QVC.

Amazingly by 4.30pm - an hour and quarter later - having taken so long to get to the story, Channel 4 turned its back on New York again.

The world may be about to end, but nothing it seems stops Countdown.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 2, 2001
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