The presenter speaks about the terrifying moment little Matilda caught fire during Halloween

Claudia Winkleman has spoken out for the first time about the night her daughter suffered severe burns in a horrific Halloween accident.

The Strictly Come Dancing presenter’s eight-year-old little girl Matilda was trick-or-treating when her fancy dress costume caught alight at a house in London in October, an incident which Claudia has described as ‘life-changing’ in an emotional new interview with BBC’s Watchdog programme.

‘I was talking to somebody, and then I just heard her scream,’ says Claudia, 43.

‘She just screamed “Mummy” and I turned round and that was that, she was just on fire.

‘Everyone was screaming. She was screaming, all the kids there were screaming. It feels like she was on fire for hours, but the surgeon said that definitely wasn’t the case and it was probably just seconds.

‘She went up, is the only way I know how to describe it. It was not like fire I had seen before.’

Claudia – who as well as Matilda has two other children with husband Kris Thykier – tried desperately to put the flames out with another parent but found that they kept coming back on Matilda‘s witch costume.

‘It was like those horrific birthday candles that you blow out and then they come back,’ she explains.

‘We couldn’t put her out.’

Matilda was treated at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and has since undergone several operations to treat her severe burns. Claudia now says: ‘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.’

Despite clearly finding the accident very emotional to talk about, Claudia has spoken out to raise awareness of the fire risk surrounding children’s fancy dress outfits. Matilda‘s was purchased from a supermarket for ‘five quid’.

Watchdog will test the flammability of several high street-bought costumes in the programme and Claudia hopes that parents will think about what they are buying for their children to wear.

See the moving interview in Watchdog, which airs on Thursday 14 May at 8pm on BBC1.

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Anna Francis