‘Our screams were real’ Claudia Winkleman opens up about daughter’s Halloween fire nightmare

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  • Claudia Winkleman has spoken out about the traumatising moment her daughter’s witch costume was set alight, and how it’s affected her feelings towards Halloween.

    The television presenter wrote in a column for Style magazine about how she ‘hates’ Halloween, warning other parents to seriously consider the safety of the costumes they buy for their children.

    Two years ago, Claudia’s daughter Matilda suffered painful burns when her witch costume caught fire suddenly. Matilda was eight at the time, and had to spend a week recovering in hospital.

    ‘I don’t like Hallowe’en because two years ago it turned out our screams were real,’ she wrote.

    ‘Thanks to the extraordinary NHS everything is now OK. I just don’t want any of you to go through what we did.

    ‘So, get yourself a witchy costume, but please get a safe one.’

    Claudia appeared on BBC’s Watchdog, in an episode dedicated to testing the flammability of kids’ Halloween costumes. She discussed the incident, saying:

    ‘I was talking to somebody and then I just heard her scream. She just screamed, “Mummy” and I turned round and that was that, she was just on fire.

    ‘She went up, is the only way I know how to describe it… It was a spark and she screamed out for me. We couldn’t put her out. Her tights had melted into her skin.

    ‘It was really fast, it wasn’t fire like I’d seen.’

    Claudia’s daughter Matilda Thykier in the film I Give It A Year

    Matilda’s costume was set alight by a candle, and she was immediately pushed to the ground and rolled over in an attempt to put the fire out.

    ‘Everyone was screaming. She was screaming, all the kids there were screaming,’ said Claudia.

    Even though the fire was extinguished in seconds, it felt ‘like she was on fire for hours’ to Claudia.

    Matilda suffered bad burns on her legs, and recovered in hospital.

    Claudia joked in her column she had ‘tried to cancel’ Halloween, but that proved to be ‘overly ambitious.’

    Claudia and her husband Kris Thykier

    ‘I hate Hallowe’en,’ she wrote. ‘I loathe wobbly skeleton wall hangings, gouged eyeball sweets, ghoulish pumpkin faces and sticky spiders’ webs.

    ‘I can’t bear screechy door creaks and drawn-out screams.’

    Claudia has spoken about the accident in the past, commenting, ‘It’s life-changing, but not life-defining. It was definitely life-changing for me.

    ‘I can’t remember life before it.

    ‘I wish I had been dressed as the witch is mainly all I wish, that it had happened to me.

    ‘She went up, and I don’t want that to happen to another child.’