This is the moment a diabetic BBC journalist had a hypoglycemic attack live on air as he read out the news to millions of people.
Alex Ritson, who works for the BBC World Service, said basic functions such as his ability to think and talk began to ‘switch off’ as he recited the top items of the day.
The newsreader’s ‘worst nightmare’ came true as he read out the headlines on BBC Radio 4, as he is heard stumbling over his words and repeating himself.
Mr Ritson suffers from Type 1 diabetes, the same condition as Prime Minister Theresa May, who is required to take insulin injections at least twice a day to stay alive.
Alex Ritson (pictured during a reconstruction of the incident) said basic functions such as his ability to think and talk began to ‘switch off’ as he recited the top items of the day
In the soundclip, Mr Ritson is heard saying: ‘The new Pope has found a… I’m sorry, the Pope has… The upcoming… I’m sorry… In the United States, the Donald Trump…
‘You’re listening to the BBC World Service, this is the BBC World Service on the BBC World Service.’
After a brief interlude, the show’s producer Neil Nunes finishes the bulletin, whcih aired simultaneously on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service at 5am on December 1.
In the meantime, colleagues of the newsreader helped him to ‘wolf down’ several sachets of sugar to help returns his blood levels to a safe range.
Opening up about his on-air hypoglycemic attack, Mr Ritson told the BBC: ‘It was terrifying.
‘As I was trying to read the script, my eyes started operating independently of each other, creating two swirling pages of words, neither of which would stay still.
Theresa May: My life with diabetes
Theresa May is among the UK’s most prominent sufferers of Type 1 diabetes
British Prime Minister Theresa May was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2013 while serving as Home Secretary.
‘It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,’ she admitted in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
‘I’d had a bad cold and cough for quite a few weeks. I went to my GP and she did a blood test which showed I’d got a very high sugar level – that’s what revealed the diabetes.
‘The symptoms are tiredness, drinking a lot of water, losing weight but it’s difficult to isolate things.
‘I was drinking a lot of water. But I do anyway. There was weight loss but then I was already making an effort to be careful about diet and to get my gym sessions in.
‘Tiredness – speak to any politician and they will tell you the hours they work. Tiredness can be part of the job. It is full on.’
The illness means Mrs May must inject insulin at least twice a day for the rest of her life, carrying a pen needle with her to deliver the hormone her body needs.
Opening up about his on-air hypoglycemic attack on December 1, Mr Ritson described the incident as ‘terrifying’
‘And I had a strange sensation which I can only describe as my subconscious, for reasons of survival, independently trying to wrestle my life controls away from my failing conscious mind.
‘Abilities which are secondary to vital functions like the heartbeat – such as the power of speech and of reasoning – were being switched off.’
He added: ‘I returned to the airwaves, at six minutes past the hour, and before long was pretty much back to normal.
‘I explained what had happened to the listener, and had some really lovely messages from all over the world.’
The dangers of Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes reduces life expectancy on average by 20 years.
The condition is caused by the body attacking the cells of the pancreas responsible for making insulin.
Insulin helps the body break down glucose from food and turn it into energy; without it, blood sugar levels become dangerously high, causing damage to blood vessels.
Around 300,000 Britons have the condition. It can run in families, but experts believe the condition is usually triggered, possibly by some sort of virus.
Insulin helps the body break down glucose from food and turn it into energy; without it, blood sugar levels become dangerously high, causing damage to blood vessels
Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 is characterised by insulin dependence — once diagnosed, a patient must inject themselves daily for the rest of their life.
The problem is that many people don’t take their insulin as they should, with potentially fatal consequences.
Not taking adequate insulin leads to long-term health problems.
When the body cannot access sugars from food, it starts to break down fat and protein, leading to by-products called ketones, which are toxic to the body.
This can lead to complications including blindness and kidney failure.
It can also cause nerve damage known as neuropathy, where the patient loses sensation in their feet, putting them at risk of amputation because wounds won’t heal.
High blood sugar also furs up the arteries, increasing the risk of stroke or a heart attack — the leading cause of death among type 1 diabetics.
Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 is characterised by insulin dependence — once diagnosed, a patient must inject themselves daily for the rest of their life