2DAY FM duo Mel Greig and Michael Christian say they are "shattered, gutted, (and) heartbroken" over the tragic end to their prank call controversy. The suspected suicide of UK nurse Jacintha Saldanha had torn the young radio presenters apart, with Greig telling A Current Affair "the thought that we may have played a part in that is gutwrenching."
The interviews come as Southern Cross Austereo announced a company-wide suspension of prank calls. Speaking in person for the first time since news of Mrs Saldanha’s death was confirmed by King Edward VII Hospital early Saturday, Greig and Christian wept at times during the Channel 9 interview, admitting the "simple harmless phone call" had been the joint idea of their production team.
Christian said: “It was just the team sitting down before the show …(we) just had the idea for just a simple harmless phone call. That we thought about making a call it was going to go for 30 seconds we were going to be hung up on, and that was it. As innocent as that.”
Greig added: "We thought a hundred people before us would've tried it, we thought it was such a silly idea and the accents were terrible and not for a second did we expect to speak to Kate let alone have a conversation with anyone at the hospital. We wanted to be hung up on."
The pair were told about the death of Mrs Saldanha in a telephone call, a moment described by Grieg as "the worst phone call I’ve ever had in my life."
"I'm still trying to make sense of it," she said. "It is not anything anyone can imagine happening."
Asked their reaction, both broke down in tears, with Greig revealing: "There’s not a minute that goes by where we don’t think about her family and what they must be going through and the thought we may have played a part in that is gutwrenching."
Greig said: "These prank calls are made every day, on every radio station, in every country around the world and they have been for a long time and no-one could’ve imagined this to happen."
Grimshaw, who previously won a Walkley award in 2009 for a series of crisis interviews (including beleagured footy star and now Triple M breakfast host Matthew Johns), also wept during filming at Austereo’s Sydney headquarters this morning.
The 15-minute interview ran unedited tonight, with similar access granted to Channel 7's Today Tonight reporter Clare Brady. The Project’s Carrie Bickmore and Charlie Pickering had also been granted a sit-down, but producer Tom Whitty tweeted it had been cancelled on compassionate grounds.
"Mel Greig was too upset and our hosts @BickmoreCarrie and @charliepick were not comfortable."
In the Today Tonight interview, Greig said the prank was not intended to make fun of the nurses.
"The accents were terrible. You know it was designed to be stupid. We were never meant to get that far from the little corgies barking in the background - we obviously wanted it to be a joke," she said.
Christian added that the joke was supposed to be on them - "not anyone else".
"It wasn't about trying to fool someone. I mean we just assumed that with the voices we put on, you know, we were going to get told off and that was the gag - in us".
added the second interview~
he apologises at 9:00