ITV under pressure after 'I'm a Celebrity' contestant is hurt
Television producers have been criticised over a stunt which led to a contestant on I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! being taken to hospital with a suspected fractured rib.
Kimberley Davies, a former Neighbours actress, suffered the injury after jumping about 15ft from a helicopter to hit a target floating in water.
The leap - called the "Hell-O-Drop" - was one of the " Bushtucker Trials" that the programme's celebrity contestants have to undertake to secure food rations for their camp in the Australian outback.
ITV insisted yesterday that it had taken every precaution for the challenge. The ITV production arm Granada said Davies had been given a full safety briefing in advance of the televised exercise.
But a PR consultant, Mark Borkowski, warned: "Until things go wrong, producers think they have got everything covered and when it does go wrong, the questions start being asked. Sooner or later, you're going to have a fatality. People have died because of television."
Before taking part in the trial, Davies was told to keep her arms by her sides and her legs straight when entering the water. She had completed one jump, but on the second, she brought her right hand up to hold her nose, meaning that her elbow was at a right angle when entering the water.
Rescue divers and the programme's chief para-medic were on hand to assess Davies's condition in the water before taking her to the shore. An air ambulance transported the actress to hospital, where further treatment showed that she might have suffered a hairline rib fracture. Her husband, a surgeon, was allowed to visit her.
In a statement, the television company said: "Granada takes the health and safety of all celebrities and crew extremely seriously and, as is the case with all Bushtucker Trials, a comprehensive risk assessment had been carried out."
"The helicopter contractor has undertaken somewhere in the region of 3,000 such jumps without prior incident and have Civil Aviation Safety Authority approval."
"The contractor does this activity on a regular basis, training divers to jump from helicopters, normally into the sea. The height of the jump and speed of the helicopter used in the Bushtucker Trial is typically that used for a person undertaking their first jump." The statement added that the same trial had been used on several previous occasions on television shows, including Fear Factor and Scream If You Want To Get Off.
It is not the first time that a television stunt has gone seriously wrong. In 1986, a stuntman was killed while practising a bungee jump for the BBC's Late Late Breakfast Show hosted by Noel Edmonds. An inquest was told that Michael Lush, 25, died after a safety clip that attached his elasticated rope to the crane opened.
A decision on whether Davies will return to the show will be taken today. The former Eastenders actress Elaine Lordan has already been forced to pull out after collapsing when she arrived in the jungle. Tommy Cannon, the comedian, left the camp on Sunday after becoming the first contestant to be voted off the show.
Last night the wine expert Jilly Goulden became the second contestant to be voted off the show. "I'm ready for it. I want to go," she said.
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