Noel Edmonds nearly quit TV after viewer died in darkest moment on prime-time
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Noel Edmonds’ TV career nearly came to an end prematurely when a viewer was killed while taking part in a daring stunt on one of the presenter’s prime-time shows.
The TV personality is widely regarded as one of the most recognisable names on UK television, having presented various shows including Deal or No Deal and Top of the Pops.
But, despite amassing an estimated net worth of £73million, Noel has also struggled with failure, and saw his entertainment company collapse in 2005.
READ MORE: Noel Edmonds' life – This Morning row, Deal or No Deal romance and company collapse
Now, a new Channel 5 documentary, Noel Edmonds: The Rise & Fall of Mr Saturday Night has examined another tragic event on one of the star’s early TV shows that nearly ended the presenter’s career.
One of Edmonds' first huge projects was the Late Late Breakfast Show, where viewers took part in dangerous stunts, often driving cars at high speeds and jumping them over long lines of parked vehicles.
During the recording of one episode, viewer Michael Lush, who was recruited to bungee jump from a box suspended 120ft in the air by a crane, died when a clip came loose and he fell to the ground.
Speaking on the documentary, Nick Ferrari, who was showbiz editor of The Sun newspaper at the time, described how the incident had come to happen.
“One of the more popular segments was ‘Give it a Whirl’. Viewers at home could phone in and nominate someone, and the viewer with the stunt selected was given a week to do a film stunt, but more often than not the training only lasted a few days,” he explained.
“When you study the footage it’s quite incredible how this was ever permitted, and it’s dealt with in such a jocular fashion.”
And, looking back on the shocking day that the news broke, Nick described how he had been informed that a tragedy had occurred before phoning the presenters to confirm the news.
“Noel Edmonds was a massive name. They didn’t run that episode, obviously, they couldn’t run that episode,” he said.
“The man had no proper training, as I recall he’d had some concerns about the stunt on the actual day, the bungee rope wasn’t properly attached.
“No one was ever held responsible for, I would argue, one of the darkest moments on Saturday prime-time TV by a country mile.”
You can tune into Noel Edmonds: The Rise & Fall of Mr Saturday Night on Channel 5 at 9pm on Saturday August 27.
A verdict recorded the death as misadventure, and the BBC reportedly paid £120,000 to the viewer’s family.
And, in a BBC clip soon after the incident, a young Jeremy Paxman even told viewers that the stunt left Noel considering the option of “quitting television for good”.
But, instead of retiring, Noel returned to the public’s screens soon after the incident, starring in The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow.
Also contributing to the documentary, stunt coordinator Jim Dowdall, who has featured in James Bond and Saving Private Ryan, was less forgiving, and suggested that it had been inevitable that someone would soon get seriously hurt.
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He said: “In terms of a weekly show where you’re putting a display of danger on, I think there’s an inevitability that you’re going to come unstuck, and you could see when they jumped those cars, they were very lucky that they didn’t actually kill a couple of members of the public.
In fact, Jim claimed that he had been called by the production team to help supervise a stunt shortly before the tragic incident, but refused on the basis of it being too unsafe.
He remembered that he had urged the team to use an airbag in case of a safety failure, but had been advised that the show couldn’t afford it.
Four days later, Michael Lush died during the first rehearsal of the show.
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