VIDEO: ITV documentary about Princess Diana

Princess Diana’s friend who biked explosive audio tapes to biographer Andrew Morton claims the royal feared he would be ‘deliberately’ knocked over by sinister forces who didn’t want the book published

  • James Colthurst delivered tapes from Diana to biographer Andrew Morton 
  • Princess feared he would be ‘deliberately knocked off his bike’, confidant says
  • ITV’s Diana marks what would have been the Princess of Wales’ 60th birthday

Princess Diana feared her friend James Colthurst, who delivered interview tapes to her biographer Andrew Morton, would be ‘deliberately knocked off his bike’, the confidant claims in a new documentary. 

ITV’s 90-minute film Diana, airing tonight at 9pm, marks what would have been the Princess of Wales’ 60th birthday.

It draws on never-heard-before testimony and rarely-seen archive footage to illustrate the most iconic moments of the mother-of-two’s life – from her teenage years as a Pimlico nursery assistant to finding her voice as the Princess of Wales.

In the footage, Dr James Colthurst, who met the teenage Diana on a skiing trip and became a life-long friend, details the royal’s paranoia that someone would purposely interfere with the tell-all book and 1992 bestseller Diana: Her True Story. 

James was tasked with carrying secret audio tapes made by her to a drop-off point in south London for collection by author Andrew Morton – leaving the princess to worry about her friend being ‘deliberately knocked off his bike’.

ITV’s 90-minute film Diana, airing tonight at 9pm, marks what would have been the Princess of Wales’ 60th birthday. Pictured, Diana in London in April 1997

Princess Diana feared her friend James Colthurst (pictured then), who delivered interview tapes to her biographer Andrew Morton, would be ‘deliberately knocked off his bike’, the confidant claims in a new documentary

In the footage, Dr James Colthurst (pictured), who met the teenage Diana on a skiing trip and became a life-long friend, details the royal’s paranoia that someone would purposely interfere with the tell-all book and 1992 bestseller Diana: Her True Story

Recalling his experience, James says: ‘I’d then hand the tapes over and they were transcribed.

‘I used to cycle them to a restaurant – it’s all very covert isn’t it, sounds that way.. that was the handover point, the live letter box.

‘I think I had a great relief each time I handed over a tape. Diana always had a problem knowing this was going on, she was worried I’d be knocked off my bicycle deliberately,’ he admits.

He also describes how, when swerving to avoid a bus, he spilled incriminating transcripts right outside parliament. 

‘They were some pretty anxious moments,’ he explains. ‘Not least when I had one batch of transcripts and I was going through the Houses of Parliament and a bus had moved me over to avoid some traffic I think on to a pothole. 

‘I hit it hard and the papers went all over the road right outside the Houses of Parliament so that was an anxious time.’ 

James was tasked with taking Morton’s questions to Kensington Palace before making secret recordings with Diana. 

Elsewhere, speaking about the royal for the first time publicly, the princess’ first cousin Diana Macfarlane revealed that Diana had photographs of the Prince of Wales hanging up in her dorm when at school.

Diana and her first cousin, who was three years older than the princess, both attended West Heath Girls’ School in Sevenoaks, Kent. 

‘You all had your bed and your bedside table and your cupboard to hang things, and we had our teddy bears, and everyone loved to have their photographs on their bedside table,’ Ms Macfarlane says.

Elsewhere, speaking about the royal for the first time publicly, the princess’ first cousin Diana Macfarlane (pictured) revealed that Diana had photographs of the Prince of Wales hanging up in her dorm when at school

‘We all used to have pictures of various pop stars that we liked, The Monkees, Rod Stewart and people like that, but I can tell you that she used to have photographs of Prince Charles around her bed at West Heath.

‘A sort of childhood crush really. With Diana it was always pictures of Prince Charles,’ she adds.

Meanwhile, Derek Dean, Artistic Director for the English National Ballet between 1993-2001 and also a friend of Diana’s also appeared on the programme to talk about the princess’s escapism in the form of dance.

He says: ‘I think she tried to escape a lot, I think she had to, to try and keep her own sanity, she had to get away from all her troubles and woes of her everyday life. I saw her a lot because, actually, ballet was so important in her life.’

The royal’s friend, Debbie Frank, adds: ‘Diana had just an extraordinary capacity to connect with the public. 

Meanwhile, Derek Dean (pictured), Artistic Director for the English National Ballet between 1993-2001 and also a friend of Diana’s also appeared on the programme to talk about the princess’s escapism in the form of dance

‘She had something about her that wasn’t practised, wasn’t fake. None of this was manufactured, it was entirely natural.’ 

Using a rich tapestry of footage, photos and letters from those who were closest to the princess, the documentary pieces together her incredible journey from being a teenage Pimlico nursery assistant to finding her voice as the Princess of Wales. 

Speaking about her trip to Angola with the Red Cross to support its campaign to ban landmines, her friend James Colthurst says: ‘I remember her thinking that she really wanted the boys to be proud of her, so therefore building her own path was important. And I think she succeeded in that, she really did make her own stamp.’

Produced by 72 Films, whose previous work includes The Rise of The Murdoch Dynasty, the programme is executive produced by Mark Raphael and David Glover and directed by the Bafta award winning Jemma Chisnall.

Using a rich tapestry of footage, photos and letters from those who were closest to the princess, the documentary pieces together her incredible journey from being a teenage Pimlico nursery assistant to finding her voice as the Princess of Wales (pictured with Prince Charles in 1981)

Produced by 72 Films, whose previous work includes The Rise of The Murdoch Dynasty, the programme is executive produced by Mark Raphael and David Glover and directed by the Bafta award winning Jemma Chisnall. Pictured, Diana in 1965

Executive Producer for 72 Films, David Glover, says: ‘There is something a bit magical about Princess Diana – and despite the difficulties in her personal life she managed to use her connection with people to do huge amounts of good. 

‘Her 60th birthday feels like the perfect time to re-examine her life and legacy and explore just how she went from a relatively unknown teenager to the most mourned person who ever lived.’

The programme is commissioned for ITV by Jo Clinton-Davis, Controller of Factual, who says: ‘This year would have been Diana’s 60th birthday, and the intention with this landmark documentary is to offer the definitive account of her life – both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. 

‘It is a difficult undertaking to shed new light on the most emotional, dramatic and pivotal elements of the life of Diana, when that light still burns brightly. 

‘But by delving deeper into her story, from her earliest years to the final ones, our aim is to provide a vivid portrayal of a woman who touched so many lives.’

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