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Health and safety lunacy

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3 hours ago, Captain Willard said:

Just nuts. Can’t believe they were BBC employees at the time. 

Well Noel Edmonds show actually killed a contestant in the 80s so it didn't get better any time soon.




There had been concern that the show's stunts were too dangerous; indeed, the BBC was twice threatened with legal action by the Health and Safety Executive to stop planned stunts such as plucking a member of the public from an exploding chimney by helicopter.[8] The BBC themselves described the stunts as "some of the most daring feats ever seen on British TV".[9] On 10 September 1983, stunt driver Richard Smith fractured his pelvis and injured his head, neck and back after crashing at 140 mph (225 km/h) during one such live stunt – an attempt to leap more than 230 feet in a car.[10] Also in 1983, Barbara Sleeman broke her shoulder after being fired from a cannon; she would later say "The BBC don't give a damn. They just want the viewers."[11]

Death of Michael Lush and cancellation[edit]

On 13 November 1986, volunteer Michael Lush was killed during his first rehearsal for another live stunt. The stunt, called "Hang 'em High", involved bungee jumping from an exploding box suspended from a 120 ft-high crane. The carabiner clip attaching his bungee rope to the crane sprang loose from its eyebolt during the jump. He died instantly upon impact of multiple injuries, and the show was cancelled on 15 November 1986 after Edmonds resigned, saying he did not "have the heart to carry on".[12] The planned episode that was to be aired that night was replaced with a showing of the film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.

Although the inquest recorded a verdict of misadventure, the jury was informed of several failures on the part of the BBC. Graham Games of the Health and Safety Executive stated that the clip could have been opened by the weight of a bag of sugar, and demonstrated that the clip sprang loose 14 times in 20. David Kirke, a bungee specialist from the Dangerous Sports Club, stated that a similar stunt he had been involved in had used three ropes, as opposed to the one rope used by the BBC, and shackles in the place of carabiner clips.[13] The safety officer, Andrew Smith, was not on hand, and no supervision or demonstration from a trained stuntman had occurred. There was also no way for Lush to contact the ground once he was in the air, and nobody in the air with him in case he changed his mind; the jury heard he delayed for almost two minutes before finally being instructed to make the jump. Furthermore, despite advice against it, the BBC production team had insisted on the use of an elasticated bungee rope. Additionally, there was no airbag or safety net to cushion a hazardous fall, and Lush had drunk two pints of beer at lunch prior to the rehearsal. Finally, it was found that Lush was wearing wet boots before he jumped, which, while not contributing to the accident, was a safety hazard nonetheless.

The BBC made an ex gratia payment of approximately £120,000 to Lush's family.[14][15] While the coroner recommended that safety officers be on hand during any such future stunts, BBC managing director Bill Cotton stated that there would be no future programmes that exposed members of the public to risk.[16] After the inquest, Noel Edmonds said "If I was to continue my career at the BBC I would want to be fully confident about any production team I was provided with."[17] He returned to the BBC's Saturday night lineup two years later, presenting The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow.

Subsequently, the BBC was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.[18] In court, Maurice Pallister, representing the HSE, further explained that the stunt would not have been rehearsed by any professional without an airbag in case of falls, and that "stunt experts" had told him that even professional rehearsals should have taken weeks, rather than days. He exonerated the programme's visual effects designer, who "had taken a high standard of safety and doubled that to ensure it was doubly safe". However, he explained that the show's producer had only discussed the stunt with the safety officer by telephone, and reiterated that the safety officer was not present at the rehearsal. The escapologist retained as Lush's trainer, Paul Matthews, was only experienced with theatrical tricks and had not performed the stunt required for the show. The BBC was fined the maximum amount of £2,000, plus costs. The magistrates chose not to refer the case to the Crown Court, where there would have been an unlimited penalty.[19]

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