Photos by Chris Harris, no reproduction without permission.
The parachutists over Pebble Mill, must have been a John Smith special for ‘Pebble Mill at One’. Today, I don’t suppose you’d be able to do such a potentially dangerous item, Health and Safety, wouldn’t allow it.
Floor manager Eurwyn Jones remembers the ill-fated parachutist jump well, “I was with Marian Foster when the paras came down, some landed in the trees, in gardens, one just missed a bus and one came crashing down on the concrete by the security hut, we heard his bones crunch as he hit the ground.”
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:
Julian Hitchcock: ‘Dear John Smith. He was brilliant at getting military stuff on the programme. It was all rather brash, but it didn’t matter at all because it was such fun. Except for the bone crunching parachutist, of course. Mention of health and safety puts me in mind of an escapologist we had on Saturday Night at the Mill programme, called Malik. He was suspended, in a straightjacket, from a flaming rope supported by a crane located in the quadrangle. A week or so later, he killed himself doing the same trick (somewhere else).’
David Ackrill: ‘I guess that it was incidents like this that ushered in the Health & Safety requirements…’
Julian Hitchcock: ‘Indeed. Floor managers had the most basic health and safety training; essentially concerning the use of weapons. There was a common sense approach, but floor managers, most of whom were looking to move up the career ladder, were easily cowed into submission. H&S legislation didn’t need the BBC to come into existence, but incidents such as that on Noel Edmonds programme lead to changes. That incident failed to surprise me: the degree of sycophancy surrounding Noel and his ilk was both nauseating and intimidating.’