Revealed: The plan to blow up TVs Sir David
Hunting through records made available under Freedom of
Information laws, Richard Osley has uncovered a bizarre plot to
firebomb the offices of Thames Television in 1970
The scorch-marked reception area
The petrol bombs and fuel-soaked rags
TV presenter David Frost
BROADCASTER Sir David Frost was targeted in a crude plan to
blow up television studios in Kings Cross, the New Journal
In an unsophisticated but potentially deadly attack, an out-of-work
advertising model hoped to leave the old Thames Television House
in Euston Road in flames.
Details of the bizarre plot have remained secret for 35 years
but due to Freedom of Information rules the police files surrounding
the incident are no longer under wraps and have been unlocked
by the National Records Office.
They include descriptions of how bungling arsonist Patricia Drew,
then 25, walked into the former television companys headquarters
once regarded as a state-of-the-art complex of studios
and plush offices for executives with a shopping bag stuffed
full of do-it-yourself bombs on April 27, 1970.
The police files say she had become fixated with Sir David
one of the UKs most popular presenters who boasts an impressive
track record of scoring landmark interviews and fellow
chat show king Eamonn Andrews.
It is not thought, however, that either broadcaster knew at the
time that they were at the centre of Ms Drews petrol bomb
On the afternoon of the attack, receptionists and security staff
at Thames were left shaken when she threw a burning milk bottle
doused in petrol at a man at the front desk.
One building manager had to duck suddenly to avoid being hit.
Witness John Shea, the centres commissioner, said: I
heard a bang as it hit the wall. When the bomb hit the wall it
was about three yards away from me.
Flames engulfed carpets and a wall decorated with a leather-style
fabric but the blaze was controlled before any injuries were sustained.
Staff at Thames later said Ms Drew had been seen in the buildings
corridors and loitering near the props room.
She was arrested on the same day at a council flat in Copenhagen
The once-secret police files sent to prosecutors building the
case against Ms Drew, who months later was convicted of arson,
confirm Sir David was her main target.
Ms Drew, who prison medics believed suffered from mental illness
developed over two years, told police she thought killing Sir
David and his colleagues would break a wicked experiment
in which media bosses had tried to hypnotise her through her television
She said that things that happened to her would be broadcast in
mesmerising nightly bulletins.
Detective Inspector John Harris later said in his report: She
(Ms Drew) formed the intention of blowing up Thames Television
House and all the people in it, with David Frost as the main target.
I should mention that she has never met David Frost but seems
to have a fixation that he is involved
There is little doubt
that she will eventually plead guilty to causing the fire. It
should be made clear, however, that apart from this one fixation
about television and television personalities she is otherwise
Ms Drew made a statement to police but changed her mind about
signing it, leaving a half-written account in the investigators
She said: About two years ago I made an advertisement for
Whitbreads Beers. After this I felt funny and when I had a drink
I used to get very dizzy. I thought I was going mad and I went
to hospital for a check-up but they said there was nothing wrong.
There are no police mugshots in the bundle of papers but witnesses
to the petrol bomb strike described her as having a dyed blonde
hair and pimple-marked face.
Her work for the beer company was to pose for a poster advert.
In his own statement DI John Harris quotes Ms Drew extensively.
He said: Ms Drew said I had to do something so I decided
to blow up the studios and try to get David Frost and Eamonn Andrews.
I saw (how to make a petrol bomb) on television. Im afraid
it didnt work very well. I was disappointed when it just
flared up and didnt explode. I waited around to find somebody
in authority and when I saw a man sitting on the desk talking
on the telephone he looked like someone in authority so I threw
it (petrol bomb) at him. He looked important so I wanted to kill
him and light the place. (David Frost) wasnt there so anyone
in authority would do. I had to stop the experiment.
Attempts to trace Ms Drew, who this year would celebrate her 60th
birthday, have failed, although it is known she flitted from job
to job in her mid-20s, working in Holborn and Islington in a photography
shop and betting office.