In an extraordinarily personal and profoundly emotional Archive Hour on BBC Radio 4, frequent Whistledown collaborator John McCarthy reflects on the 30th anniversary of his own release from captivity in Lebanon.

August 8th, 1991 was the day John McCarthy was released after five and a half years. He remembers it vividly – bundled blindfolded from his cell, taken in a car to the Syrian border and handed over to a man from the British Embassy who lent him a clean shirt. Then a meeting with his father and brother, and a hastily arranged press conference at which his first words were, “Well hello”.

He once described it as the best day of his life. Now, as he rummages through a box of memories of that time, meets those involved in his release day, and reflects on archive recordings, he’s not so sure.