Last updated at 15:46pm on 25th October 2007
Gerry McCann warned his wife: “Don’t say anything till they’ve taken off your microphone” as she broke down in tears at the end of an interview on Spanish television.
Kate started sobbing as the 30-minute interview by a Spanish TV presenter drew to a close.
But instead of turning to comfort her, Gerry’s immediate reaction was to whisper the warning in extraordinary scenes played out to millions of viewers.
The couple were savaged in a phone vote which accompanied an exclusive interview they gave to late-night programme 360 grados on Spain’s Antena 3.
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Nearly 70 per cent of the callers said they thought the McCanns were not telling the truth about their daughter’s disappearance while only 30 per cent gave the couple their backing.
Gerry nearly stormed out of the television interview after being quizzed over drugging his children.
Sources said Mr McCann was “fuming” at being asked a question that the Spanish interviewer had promised not to pose. Mr McCann stormed out of a previous interview with another Spanish TV channel.
A source said today: “Kate and Gerry were annoyed towards the end of the interview because of the drugs question. Gerry was on the verge of another walkout.”
A source close to the McCanns insisted Gerry’s warning to Kate followed a question about allegations they had drugged their daughter which the programme makers had been told they could not ask.
The source said: “Kate was very upset she was asked the question and Gerry was furious. “What was said wasn’t said because they have anything to hide.”
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The anguished mother-of-three said: “As Madeleine’s Mummy I feel in my heart that she is there.
“I don’t know how anyone could harm anyone as beautiful as Madeleine.”
In her first television interview since she was named as an official suspect in the search for Madeleine, she said she was as confident of finding her daughter alive now as she was on the day she went missing nearly six months ago.
“Maybe even more so,” she said. “I think she is possibly being held by someone in their house but I don’t know.
“I strongly believe Madeleine is out there and we have to do everything we can.”
The 39-year-old GP broke down as she told how her life felt incomplete without her daughter, whose fourth birthday passed shortly after she disappeared.
“I feel sad and I feel lonely and our life is not as happy without Madeleine,” she said.
“I feel anxious she is not with us.”
The cameras were stopped while she composed herself.
When the interview resumed Mrs McCann revealed how her two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie ask about their big sister.
She said Amelie told her: “Madeleine is coming home to my lovely house and I am going to share my toys with her.”
She continued: “They do ask about Madeleine. Madeleine was a big part of their life.
“They are not upset and they are not distressed but they are very much aware she is not there.”
Her husband Gerry said: “The hardest thing for me is when they say, ‘When is Madeleine coming back home?’ and we have to say, ‘We don’t know but everyone is looking for her’.”
Mrs McCann broke down again at the end of the interview when she was asked about the last time she saw her daughter.
Missing: ‘I strongly believe she is out there and we have to do everything we can
She said: “She was very happy and very loving and I know Madeleine was very happy with her life. She is special.”
Mr and Mrs McCann gave their first television interview to the Spanish channel Antena 3 as they launched a new hotline targeting people in Spain, Portugal and North Africa, appealing to them for clues as to their daughter’s fate.
They had been warned by their legal team that they could be prosecuted for talking publicly while still bound by the strict Portuguese secrecy laws.
But their lawyers cleared them to speak last week.
Broadcasters from all over the world, including Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters, had asked for the first broadcast interview, but the family wanted to target the Iberian peninsula.
Mrs McCann said: “Somebody knows something. It is not about us. It is about Madeleine.
“We have not even seen her since she was four. She needs our help. She needs her family.”
Mr McCann, also 39, added: “We want people to try to help reunite our lovely four-year-old girl with her parents.”
The couple said they were confident they would be cleared of any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Mrs McCann declared herself “100 per cent” sure while Mr McCann said he was “much more optimistic” since a new officer, Paulo Rebelo, was appointed to the case.
The consultant cardiologist said: “We have not been charged with anything. Investigations are continuing. The only thing is finding Madeleine.”
His wife added: “It really is secondary. I will take anything that is thrown at me.”
Mrs McCann defended her and her husband against accusations they had seemed calm and “too cool” in the weeks and months after their daughter vanished.
“We know we are innocent, totally innocent. That is why we are calm. We know each other,” she said.
Mr McCann said the couple remained “completely united” and added: “Nothing that has happened to us has come close to upsetting us the way Madeleine going missing did.
“We have our own heartache and grief but we are absolutely determined to help in the search.”
He described the last time he saw his daughter, saying: “I was the last to see her. I saw her and thought how beautiful she was, and how lucky I was to be a father of three children.”
The couple refused to discuss claims that DNA evidence was found in their apartment and their hire car, and dismissed claims that they sedated their children as “ludicrous”.
But Mr McCann said: “We are certainly not scared.
“There is no evidence DNA tests will show anything other than us being completely innocent.”
He said the group of friends who were with them in Praia da Luz – the so-called Tapas Nine – knew they were not involved in the disappearance.
He added: “They know we are innocent, absolutely. They will help us. They will clear our names.”
Asked if he had any regrets, he replied: “Not from the minute we found Madeleine gone.”
Roberto Arce, who interviewed the McCanns for the Spanish television programme 360 Grados, spoke later about the couple’s demeanour and emotional state.
“Kate looked prostrate with pain,” he said. “Much more depressed than I’ve ever seen her before. She cried for the first time.
“Gerry looked much happier with the massive campaign that’s been put in place to find his daughter.”
He added: “The McCanns don’t say in the interview there are clues Madeleine – dead or alive – is in Spain.
“But privately they confessed afterwards there are.
“I can’t say what they are and I’m not sure they’re necessarily more solid than other leads.
“But they maintain there are, in Spain as well as in neighbours like Morocco, but that Spain’s involvement in all this is very important.”