How Jordan North narrowly avoided being caught up in Omagh bomb attack

·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09:  Jordan North attends the National Television Awards 2021 at The O2 Arena on September 09, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Jordan North attends the National Television Awards 2021 in London. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Jordan North has opened up about the 'awful' day his family narrowly avoided being caught up in the Omagh bomb attack after a last-minute change of plans.

The Radio 1 DJ and 2020 I'm A Celebrity runner-up explained to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time how his dad's army career kept the family moving around and living in different parts of the UK.

He told Thornton about the day of the Omagh bombings in August 1998 when his family were due to go into the town and how the tragedy and its aftermath were the first time he "can remember feeling really sad and emotional."

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He explained: "It was August, and we were going to go into the town centre that day. We were four boys. It was red hot, the height of the summer holidays. 

"We were on the way into town and my mum said: 'These lot are playing up. We can't take them into town like this.' We were meant to go in to book a holiday. 

"There was a local walking picnic area, so we went for a walk instead. And we heard the bomb go off.

The clean-up in progress following the Omagh Bombings. Picture Martin Nolan 17/8/1998 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection). (Photo by Independent News and Media/Getty Images)
The clean-up in progress following the Omagh Bombings in 1998 (Independent News and Media/Getty Images)

"I just remember my dad putting us in the car — because he knew straight away it was a bomb — going back to the barracks, and I didn't see him for two or three days. 

"We actually drove past the town centre. And it was like something out of a film. It was in slow motion and I remember my dad saying: 'Don't look out the window. Don't look out the window,' and my mum trying to distract us.

"Obviously being eight years old, you looked out the windows and just seeing this absolute devastation. And it was awful."

Listen to the full episode to hear Jordan talk about his early jobs as a bricklayer and potwash and about his I'm A Celebrity 'premonition'

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He told Thornton about the army families that moved around together to different postings, and that people from his dad's time in the army still recognise him from his childhood now and stop him in the street.

He said: "I was in Preston in the other week, and I was going to get the train and someone went: 'Ah, Graham North's son.' And he was in the army with me dad for years.

"So we were really close knit."

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 23/12/2021 - Programme Name: The Weakest Link - TX: n/a - Episode: Radio & Podcasts (No. 7) - Picture Shows:  Jordan North - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: Alan Peebles
Jordan North appearing om The Weakest Link (BBC Studios/Alan Peebles)

He also spoke about his early love for radio, and the practical way he used local radio when moving to a new area.

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North explained he learned a lot about the places his family moved to from the radio shows on local stations, even as a young kid, remembering stations he had listened to when the family moved to north Yorkshire, Northern Ireland and Blackpool.

He said: "You just used to listen to them on the way in school or in the morning. And you got a feel for what this area was about. 

"And they used to give away prizes, do competitions and they always had callers on, really funny callers, and it just it was my first way of getting to know the area really."

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