Man dies in accident while filming jousting scene for 'Time Team'

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The Independent Online

A man has died after an accident during filming for the Channel 4 programme Time Team, it was revealed yesterday.

The man, who has not been named, was re-enacting a joust scene last month for a forthcoming special episode of the popular programme at Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire.

During filming, a splinter from the tip of a jousting pole flew into the eye-slit of the man's helmet after clashing with his shield.

The tip of the pole, made from balsa wood, is designed to split on impact. However, a splinter flew into man's eye-socket and hit the soft tissue behind the eye. He was taken to University College Hospital in Coventry, where he remained in a stable condition for several days but died a week later in hospital.

The programme was being made by Production Company VideoText Communications. The producer of the show, Philip Clarke, described the tragedy as "an unfortunate accident".

Known to be in his late forties, the victim was part of a professional acting group that regularly re-enacted fight scenes. His family have asked that his name be kept private.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said yesterday: "We have been shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic accident. The professional company of historical enactors has an excellent safety record and took all the appropriate and necessary precautions and it does sadly appear that this was a tragic, freak accident".

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the accident and will report in due course. The spokeswoman defended Channel 4's commitment to on-set safety. "We take issues of health and safety extremely seriously for all our programmes" she said, adding "We will continue to ensure organisations we work with meet all appropriate safety requirements".

The accident took place on 13 September , during filming for a Time Team special episode chronicling the life of Edward III and his Round Table at Windsor. The episode will be broadcast next year with a dedication to the victim, though it will not feature the re-enactment.

Safety of participants in television shows became a hotly debated issue in 1986, when a similar tragedy took place during the filming of Noel Edmonds' The Late, Late Breakfast Show. Michael Lush, a 25-year-old volunteer who had been selected to take part in a live stunt for the "Whirly Wheel" section, was killed during a bungee jump rehearsal. Amid the subsequent controversy Mr Edmonds almost retired from television but was persuaded to continue by the then head of BBC, Bill Cotton. The show was later axed.

Despite this latest incident, re-enactments will continue to feature as a part of Time Team, the show which follows a team of archaeologists as they dig up an area of historical interest.