VIEWERS were concerned for veteran BBC royal correspondent Nicolas Witchell last night as he stumbled over a live broadcast covering Prince Harry and Meghan's new baby.
The Beeb stalwart – who has covered the royal family for years – asked for time to "collect my thoughts" during a piece to camera on the Ten O'Clock News.
He was delivering the report to mark the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's son yesterday.
But Mr Witchell was forced to give up altogether and handed back to studio.
He said: "Now what of their son, baby Sussex, no name for him so far.
"The first Anglo-American birth in the British royal family, uh, now we know, of course, that uh …
"Excuse me, just let me just collect my thoughts.
"The first Anglo-American birth in the British royal family, and it is … it is certain, of course …
"I'm so sorry, let me just once again, uh, hand back to you, Ben."
HANDS BACK TO STUDIO
It was left to news anchor Ben Brown in the studio to continue with the bulletin after the royal baby item was abruptly ended.
Many rushed to Mr Witchell's defence in the moments after the blunder aired – with some expressing concern for his health.
His BBC colleague Jeremy Bowen said: "I've seen some snide comments about Nick Witchell.
"Please stop, they're not deserved.
"He's a respected and experienced broadcaster, doing his job.
"I don't know what happened tonight but it's certainly no reason to be nasty."
Sky News anchor Adam Boulton wrote on Twitter: "What just happened to Nicholas Witchell? Great reporter.
"Something must have been distracting him."
Before he gets panned online can everyone at least wait until he is confirmed OK, he deserves that
Viewer Paul McGlynn said: "Just seen Nicholas Witchell on a live BBC news broadcast.
"He had to pass back to the studio, one of the most experienced presenters so it wasn't nerves etc, before he gets panned online can everyone at least wait until he is confirmed OK, he deserves that."
Another, Angela Haggerty, said: "That was a wee shame for Nicholas Witchell on the 10 O'Clock news there.
"He had a bit of a brain freeze and had to hand back to the studio.
"But to be fair there are only so many things you can say about a baby being born."
Paul Royall, the BBC News at Ten editor, later said Mr Witchell was “lost for words” and was not unwell.
He said: “For those asking about Nick Witchell – he’s absolutely fine.
“Highly unusually for Nick he lost his train of thought on the #BBCNewsTen and decided to hand back to the studio.
“This can happen sometimes even to the most experienced and respected in busy live news broadcasting.”
The incident saw Mr Witchell – who became the BBC's royal correspondent in 1998 – trending on Twitter.
He earned the Prince of Wales's wrath in 2002 when he slipped up during a live broadcast by wrongly saying Prince Harry had been caught taking cocaine.
The BBC has been approached for a comment.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to the latest addition to the royal family at 5.26am on Monday morning.
Weighing 7lb 3oz, the as-yet unnamed newborn is the seventh in line to the throne – and is an eighth great-grandchild for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Thrilled dad Prince Harry, speaking on camera at Windsor Castle's Royal Mews, said the birth was the "most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined".
And the overjoyed Duke of Sussex described how his baby boy "is absolutely to-die-for".
Congratulations flooded in from around the world, with Prime Minister Theresa May wishing the couple "all the best at this happy time".
Former US first lady Michelle Obama tweeted: "Congratulations, Meghan and Harry! Barack and I are so thrilled for both of you and can't wait to meet him."
The Queen and Philip, grandfather the Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are all said to be delighted with the news.
The palace statement also mentioned the siblings of Harry's late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash when he was 12.
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It said: "Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news."
Unless the Queen steps in at the last minute, the baby will not be an HRH or a prince due to rules limiting titles within the royal family which were introduced by King George V more than 100 years ago.
His title is expected to be Earl of Dumbarton – as the eldest son of a duke he is entitled to use one of Harry's lesser titles as a courtesy title.
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