North Devon’s famous Parkham WI reached even bigger heights of fame last night when TV chat show host Jonathan Ross told Hollywood star Tom Hanks about their pirate fancy dress mishap.
Award-winning American actor Tom Hanks was on The Jonathan Ross Show, which aired on ITV last night, to promote his new film Captain Philips which tells the real-life tale of Captain Richard Phillips and his 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates.
It led Jonathan Ross to tell the Sleepless in Seattle star about Parkham WI innocently dressing up as pirates for a talk by Captain Colin Darch who was captured by Somali pirates in 2008.
The Women’s Institute shot to international fame after the North Devon Journal broke the story in May.
Within hours, households around the world were hearing about how members of Parkham WI had become accidental celebrities by donning long johns and eye patches for a talk by the former sea captain who was held hostage by Somali pirates for several weeks.
The WI group thought they were being given a general talk about piracy at their April meeting and thought it would be amusing to dress up.
After explaining the story to the Forrest Gump star, Jonathan Ross showed a picture of the Parkham WI in their pirate fancy dress to which Mr Hanks said: “Oh my god, look at that.”
He declared: “This is fantastic!” before joking: “Are you sure those aren’t real pirates?”.
It was the latest mention on TV for the Parkham WI who, since the mishap, have been referenced on Russell Howard’s Good News, Newsnight, CBS News and have appeared in dozens of newspapers including The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Guardian, Metro and The Independent.
At the time, Stephanie George, the treasurer for the WI group, said: “There he was delivering this harrowing story about how he was held hostage and feared for his life, and we were all sitting there dressed as Captain Hook.
“It was a bit different to our usual prettiest tin competition or the flower or the month.”
Watch a video of Jonathan Ross telling Tom Hanks about North Devon's Parkham WI pirate mishap below: