Michael Lush died on November 13, 1986, while doing a stunt for the BBC show The Late Late Breakfast Show. People have said that this was the worst day in the history of British TV.
About £120,000 was given to Lush’s family by the BBC as a gift. Even though the coroner said safety officers should be there for any similar stunts in the future, BBC managing director Bill Cotton said there would be no more shows that put the public in danger.
Here’s everything you need to know about the young man at the time and about what happened.
Who was Michael Lush from The Late Late Breakfast Show?
Michael Lush was a young man from South Hampton who was 24 years old. He was said to be a self-employed hod carrier, which is someone who works on a building and moves bricks in a box with no sides.
Everything was going well until one day, when he was asked to be a stuntman on The Late Late Breakfast Show, which is known for having stunts that can be dangerous or even kill people. His girlfriend put him forward for the whirly wheel, and on November 8, 1986, he was called live on the show and asked to do a task called “Hang ’em High.”
Lush said that everyone thought he was crazy for agreeing to such a crazy stunt, but he was really excited to try it out. He just needed a bottle, and he was willing to do anything that came up along the way.
The saddest part was when he made a joke about the fact that his girlfriend Allison had talked about getting married before the day of the stunt. Also, his choice was making his mother’s mind hurt. She couldn’t figure out why he was so interested in the show. He told her that he wanted to be well-known. Unfortunately, he was well-known because of his connection to the BBC show and the bad thing that killed him.
The live show was supposed to start on November 15, but the training had to take place two days before the accident.
What was Michael Lush’s fate? On the Late Late Breakfast Show, there was an accident and a death
On November 13, Lush was really looking forward to practicing the stunt he was going to do live on national TV. He joined the team, and once he knew how to do it, he did it.
For the “Hang ’em High” stunt, which involved bungee jumping from an exploding box, a 120-foot-tall crane was used. During the jump, the carabiner clip that was holding his bungee cord to the crane’s eyebolt broke off.
After Edmonds quit the show, saying he didn’t “have the heart to keep going,” it was canceled on November 15, 1986, and he died instantly after hitting something and getting seriously hurt. One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing was shown instead of the show that was supposed to be on that night.
Even though the inquiry found that the BBC had made mistakes, the jury was told about some of those mistakes.
Graham Games of the Health and Safety Executive said that the clip could have been opened by the weight of a bag of sugar. He also showed that the clip came loose 14 out of every 20 times.
David Kirke, a bungee expert from the Dangerous Sports Club, said that when he did a similar act, they used three ropes instead of just one and shackles instead of carabiner clips. Andrew Smith, who was in charge of safety, wasn’t there, and there was no stuntman supervision or show.
In the end, it was found that Lush had been jumping with wet boots on, which did not cause the accident but was still a safety issue.
It was the first time Edmonds did a variety show on Saturday night. He had quit his children’s show, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, earlier that year. Gary Kemp wrote the theme song, which was sung by Spandau Ballet. Michael Hurll was in charge of making it and running it. At first, the show had trouble getting viewers, and it didn’t look like it would last past its first season. After the third show, the original co-host Leni Harper was fired, and the show went through a number of changes to boost its ratings. In the end, having some of the biggest names in the music business as special guests helped the show become better known and get more viewers.
The Swedish band ABBA made two appearances in the first season. It was their last time ever to be on TV.
The show was called a “mag prog” for people who wake up late on Saturdays. It included comedy, pop music, and a few surprises. “The Hit Squad,” which was a hidden camera segment, pop music performances, and “The Golden Egg Awards,” which showed different outtakes, were regular parts of the show. During the “Give It a Whirl” segment, a member of the public would call in and spin the “Whirly Wheel” to choose a stunt. This was similar to how the game show “Wheel of Fortune” worked. After practicing the stunt for a week, they would do it live on the next show.
Helen Fielding, who later wrote the Bridget Jones books, worked on the program for a while as a researcher.
The video for “Say Say Say,” a song by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, was shown for the second time on UK TV. The first time was on Channel 4’s The Tube the day before. When the song first appeared on the UK singles chart, the video for “$500,000” wasn’t ready yet. By the time the song was finished, it had dropped in the charts. McCartney flew to London to show the video on the BBC’s most popular music show, Top of the Pops. However, the show had a strict rule that no single that had dropped in the charts could be shown, so they wouldn’t let him. A heated argument broke out, and BBC staff said that McCartney had threatened to take all of his music off the air.
As a compromise, the BBC offered to show the video two days later on The Late Late Breakfast Show, which had weekly live music performances but rarely showed videos. The BBC said they would play it on the show, but only if McCartney showed up live and did an interview. He reluctantly agreed, and he and his wife Linda appeared live on the show on October 29, 1983. This was his first live appearance on UK TV since 1973.
The interview was awkward, and Paul and Linda McCartney didn’t try very hard to answer Edmonds’ questions. After what was said to be a fight behind the scenes, the whole show was built around the “medicine men” theme of the video. Olivia Newton-John, who was supposed to be a guest that week, had to do a skit to promote the video against her will, and she was upset that her “starring” role on the show had been changed to a less important guest role to make room for the video and McCartney.
After the video was shown on the show, the song went back up the charts the next week. It was played on Top of the Pops on November 4, 1983.
People worried that the show’s stunts were too dangerous. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive threatened to sue the BBC twice to stop planned stunts like rescuing a member of the public from an exploding chimney by helicopter. The stunts were called “some of the most daring things ever seen on British TV” by the BBC.  On September 10, 1983, stunt driver Richard Smith broke his pelvis and hurt his head, neck, and back when he crashed at 140 mph (225 km/h) while trying to jump more than 230 feet in a car during one of these live stunts.  Also in 1983, Barbara Sleeman broke her shoulder when a cannonball hit her. She later said “The BBC couldn’t care less. They only want people to watch.”
Michael Lush’s death and the end of the band
Michael Lush, a volunteer, died on November 13, 1986, during his first rehearsal for another live stunt. “Hang ’em High” was the name of the stunt, which involved bungee jumping from a box that was set to explode and was hanging from a 120-foot-high crane. During the jump, the carabiner clip that was holding his bungee rope to the crane’s eyebolt came off. He died instantly from his multiple injuries, and the show ended on November 15, 1986, after Edmonds quit and said he “didn’t have the heart to go on.” Instead of the episode that was supposed to air that night, the movie One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing was shown.
Even though the verdict was “misadventure,” the jury was told that the BBC had made a number of mistakes. Graham Games of the Health and Safety Executive said that a bag of sugar could have opened the clip, and he showed that the clip came loose 14 times out of 20. David Kirke, a bungee expert from the Dangerous Sports Club, said that he had done a similar stunt with three ropes instead of the BBC’s single rope and shackles instead of carabiner clips. Andrew Smith, the safety officer, was not there, and a trained stuntman had not been there to watch or show anything. Once Lush was in the air, he couldn’t get in touch with the ground, and there was no one else up there with him in case he changed his mind. The jury heard that he hesitated for almost two minutes before he was finally told to jump. Also, the BBC production team insisted on using a bungee rope, even though they had been told not to. Also, there was neither an airbag nor a safety net to soften a dangerous fall, and Lush had had two pints of beer for lunch before the rehearsal. Lastly, it was found that Lush had wet boots on before he jumped. This did not cause the accident, but it was still a safety risk.
About £120,000 was given for free to Lush’s family by the BBC. Even though the coroner said that safety officers should be present at any future stunts like this, BBC managing director Bill Cotton said that there would be no more shows that put people in danger.  Noel Edmonds said after the inquest, “If I were to keep working at the BBC, I would want to be sure I could trust any production team I was given.” Two years later, he was back on BBC on Saturday nights with The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow.
The Health and Safety Executive then went after the BBC for breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974. Maurice Pallister, who was representing the HSE in court, said that no professional would have practiced the stunt without an airbag in case they fell. He also said that “stunt experts” had told him that even professional rehearsals should have taken weeks, not days. He cleared the visual effects designer of the show, saying that she had “taken a high standard of safety and doubled it to make sure it was twice as safe.” But he said that the show’s producer and the safety officer had only talked about the stunt over the phone, and he said again that the safety officer had not been at the rehearsal. Paul Matthews, the escapologist who was hired to train Lush, had only done magic tricks and had never done the stunt that was needed for the show. The BBC was fined £2,000, which was the most that could be done, plus costs. The magistrates decided not to send the case to the Crown Court, which would have had a penalty that could have been as high as they wanted.