A SUSSEX seaside town became the centre of a royal bombshell when a clandestine edit room was set up there to finalise the explosive Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana.

The controversial interview was filmed by the BBC journalist in 1995 during a “tense two and a half hours” before the recordings were then taken to Eastbourne for editing.

The results sent shockwaves through the monarchy –and the whole country.

It was during her conversation with Mr Bashir the princess famously said: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

The Argus:

She gave candid details about her marriage and the Prince of Wales’s relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, now his wife.

An ITV documentary aired this month called The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess which details the part Eastbourne played in this “earth-shattering” event.

The programme said the interview was filmed without the knowledge of the BBC board of governors and its chairman at the time, Duke Hussey.

His wife was Lady Susan Hussey, the Queen’s lady in waiting and the godmother to Prince William.

Andrew Morton, author of Diana: Her True Story, said: “What terrified Diana was that Marmaduke Hussey would put a stop to doing the interview. So it was absolutely necessary for Martin Bashir and his colleagues to be secretive.”

The documentary’s narrator stated: “A clandestine edit room was set up miles away from the BBC in an Eastbourne hotel suite.

“They had less than two weeks to make transmission and the film editor had not even been told about the content.”

The film editor was Ian Corcoran. He described how Mr Bashir and the interview’s producer “waltzed in” while “grinning slightly” before saying: “Guess who we’ve got on film.”

The Argus:

“I didn’t have a clue but, of course, as we started playing, every answer was more extraordinary than the last,” he said. “She was so honest, so open, so transparent, and that was a real shock.”

Richard Ayre, the BBC’s controller of editorial policy between 1993 and 1996, pointed to why a hotel suite in Eastbourne had been chosen as an editing room for the interview, as he described the moment he and other BBC executives visited Sussex to see the footage for the first time.

He said: “This was probably the least likely place for a world scoop to be produced.

“Everything was black, highly secretive.

“It was pretty tense, and (then) they pressed the start button. And for as long as it took, we watched.

“When the programme stopped you could hear a pin drop. We were shocked, genuinely shocked. This was the woman who, even though they had been separated for years, was officially still destined to be our future queen, explaining why she could no longer live with the future king.

The Argus:

“I said, ‘this film could bring down the Royal Family, or the BBC, or both’. And there’s absolutely no doubt that it has got to be transmitted.”

An investigation has now been launched into the Panorama interview. It aims to determine whether the steps taken by the BBC and Mr Bashir to obtain the interview were appropriate and to what extent those actions influenced Diana’s decision to give an interview.

It will also examine what knowledge the BBC had in 1995 and 1996 of “mocked-up bank statements purporting to show payments to a former employee of [Diana’s brother] Earl Spencer (and) the purported payments to members of the Royal households”, the corporation said.

The BBC says Diana had written a note saying she did not see the false bank statements and they played no part in her decision to give the interview.